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Adobe Photoshop is more than just an image editing application—it is a foundational staple in all the visual arts, from print design, to photography, to web design, to motion graphics and 3D graphics. In this course, Adobe Certified Instructor Chad Perkins covers the basics of Photoshop. Learn about the components of visual images, making selections, color correcting, fixing images, outputting images, and much more. This course uses Photoshop CS6, but the information presented is applicable to all versions of the application.
In this tutorial, we're going to look at one of my favorite features in Photoshop and that Adjustment Layers. Before I explain what Adjustment Layers are, let me show you why they are so important. Let's say, I wanted to color correct this image, maybe brighten it up and increase the vibrance and saturation. I could do that in a lot of ways, and generally speaking, in Photoshop there are many ways to do the same thing, especially basic tasks like color correction. I could choose a tool like the Sponge tool and manually saturate areas.
I could also go to the Image menu, and go to the sub-menu Adjustments, and choose one of the many adjustments here. But the problem with both of those solutions is they both apply the correction directly to the layer, making changes to them. Well, what if I want to go back later and lighten up those changes or change my changes? Well, I'm kind of stuck if I use a tool or if I use something from the Image menu here. So, the solution is to create an Adjustment Layer.
So, here in the Layers panel, at the bottom of the Layers panel you will find the all important half black, half white circle here. This is the icon for Adjustment Layers. If I click this, we can see all of the Adjustment Layers that are available to us in Photoshop. We could create a Solid Color or a Gradient or a Pattern Layer or any of these other adjustments. In this case, I'm going to choose Vibrance. Click on Vibrance, and let's say, for example, we'll go to the Vibrance property. We can click on the little slider, we can type in a number here, or my favorite is just to click on the word, and we get this little icon here.
And actually, you don't even need to click on it to get this icon. Just put your mouse over it, and this icon means that we can scrub it. So, we can click and then drag to the left or right to increase the Vibrance if we go to the right, or decrease it if we go to the left. I'll just increase this. Let's just go all the way. Let's just go crazy, let's say. And then, I'll close this, by clicking the little collapse arrows here. And you'll see that we've gone a little bit overboard. It does look better in some regards, but in some regards again, we've gone a little bit to far.
But what I've done here is I've created an Adjustment Layer. This is a separate layer. All these changes are on this layer. We refer to this as non-destructive editing cause I have not changed my source material at all. At any time, I can just click this eye icon and turn off that change. Or I could go up here with the layer selected to the Opacity of the Layers panel and click and drag this to the left and reduce the Opacity of that change. And so, now we are blending it. So now, it's only 59% opaque and it's blended into the background a little bit more.
Also, if I wanted to change my settings in the Vibrance effect, I can just double click this little icon here. My settings open up exactly where they were. I could take them down to something a little bit more tasteful. Close this, and nothing has permanently damaged my image and everything is fine. I could bring the Opacity back up, and there we have it. And here's before and after. And again, I might go back again, and bump this up even further. But the point is here is that I have maximum control over what I do with my image.
None of these changes are permanent and in Photoshop that is ideal. You don't want to do something that's going to make permanent changes, if you can avoid it at all costs. And Adjustment Layers are the best way to do that.
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