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Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel

From: Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

Video: Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel

When you're correcting colors or tones in your photographs, the best way to work is to apply adjustment layers rather than to apply direct adjustments. Adjustments layers are preferable because they won't permanently change the pixels in your photographs. Another benefit of adjustment layers is that they remain editable. So you can come back at any time even after you've saved and closed a file and tweak the adjustments that you've made. In Photoshop CS4, adjustments have gotten even better, because now there's a separate panel, the Adjustments panel, from which you can apply and manage your adjustment layers.

Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel

When you're correcting colors or tones in your photographs, the best way to work is to apply adjustment layers rather than to apply direct adjustments. Adjustments layers are preferable because they won't permanently change the pixels in your photographs. Another benefit of adjustment layers is that they remain editable. So you can come back at any time even after you've saved and closed a file and tweak the adjustments that you've made. In Photoshop CS4, adjustments have gotten even better, because now there's a separate panel, the Adjustments panel, from which you can apply and manage your adjustment layers.

My Adjustments panel is open over here. If yours isn't open, you can open it from the Window menu at the top of the screen. There are two main sections to this panel. In the top portion are icons that represent all of the available adjustment layers. If I click here, I'll apply a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. Here is Levels adjustment layer, a Curves adjustment layer. Down here is a Black/White adjustment layer, a Hue/saturation adjustment layer, a Vibrance adjustment layer and more.

We will be looking at some of these in detail in other movies. For now, I'd like you to see how the Adjustments panel works and get a sense of the benefits of using adjustment layers. The bottom part of the Adjustments panel consists of presets for each of the kinds of adjustment layers. We will take a closer look there in a minute. But first let's go ahead and apply an adjustment layer. This photo is a little dark. So I am going to start with a Brightness /Contrast adjustment layer right here. I will click that icon and two things happen.

First, the Adjustments panel changes to show me just the controls for the Brightness/Contrast adjustment. And second, down in the Layers panel, you will see a new Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. An adjustment layer looks a little different than other kinds of layers. It has this adjustment icon on the left and it comes with its own layer mask. In another movie, I'll show you how to use that layer mask to control the areas where an adjustment appears and where it's hidden. For now, let's go up to the Adjustments panel and I'll work with these two sliders.

The Brightness slider darkens the photo if I pull it to the left and brightens the photo if I go to the right. I am going to brighten this photo a bit. And you'll notice that that histogram in the panel above changed when I made that adjustment. I use the Histogram panel as a guide. For example if I go too far with the brightness adjustment, I will see a spike over here on the right side of the histogram. That will tell me that I went too far and I will back off a little on the adjustment. In the Brightness/Contrast Adjustment panel I also can adjust contrast, lowering contrast by pulling to the left or increasing contrast by pulling to the right.

You can have more than one adjustment layer on an image. So let's go back to the Adjustments panel in its initial state and add another adjustment layer. To do that, I will click this green arrow at the bottom of the Adjustments panel. That takes me back to the initial view and from here, I am going to click on another adjustment layer icon, the Black & White Adjustment icon right here. You can see that the Adjustments panel is now replaced with all the controls for the Black & White adjustment. And in the Layers panel, there is a second adjustment layer, a Black & White adjustment layer.

I will leave the controls in the Black & White adjustment layer at their default for now. As you can see the image has changed to black and white. I am going to leave all these controls at their defaults for now, and I am going to go back in assume that I am working else where in my image, making other adjustments and tweaks. And then say that I decide that I don't like the way the Black & White adjustment is. I would like to change it a little. At any time, I can come back and just click on that Black & White adjustment layer and my controls come up to the same settings as I left them.

At this point, I can change the adjustment however I like. I could move any of these sliders, or I could just come up and click Tint, and that will change the black and white look of the image to a tinted or a colorized look. I did that because I want to show you the Preview icons at the bottom of the Adjustments panel. If I click this Eye icon, I am taken all the way back to before I applied any black and white adjustments. I will turn that back on to show you the next icon here. If I click on this icon and hold, I get a preview of the last state of the Black & White adjustment.

If I want to return to the last state of this adjustment, I click the next icon, and I go back to before I added the tint. If I want to delete the Black & White adjustment completely, I can click this trashcan and I can click Yes in this dialog box, and the Black & White adjustment layer disappears from the Layers panel. I would like to show you one more thing about the Adjustments panel. So I am going to go back to its initial view by clicking this large green arrow. And I wanted to show you how easy it is to apply an adjustment layer preset.

Let's say that I think I need a little more contrast in his image. I can just click on the arrow to the left of Levels presets, scroll down this list of available presets, and choose the one that I want. I am going to try Increase Contrast 2. That did increase the contrast in the image. It also opened the Levels controls here in the Adjustments panel and it added a Levels adjustment layer in my Layers panel. At this point I could come up to this menu at the top of the Levels Adjustments panel, and I could choose a different preset.

They appear here as well as in the initial Adjustments panel. Or I could leave things as they are or I could tweak these adjustments as necessary. I am going to leave them as they are for now, and recommend again that when you need to adjust your photographs, you turn to adjustment layers rather than direct adjustments. When you use adjustment layers, you can feel confident that you are preserving your original image and that you can come back at any time and tweak or even delete your adjustment.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

103 video lessons · 67515 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye
      30s

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