Tip of the week: Using PS adjustment layers

While most people who have used photoshop may have used photoshop adjustment, there is another way to do it better. With adjustment layers in photoshop, there is scope to improve your image enhancement methodology. Not only it is easier to use, it allows you far more control on how you touch your photo up. It is also non destructive method where you can keep your original image intact or save the PSD and still leave the underlying image untouched while making enhanced versions of the same image at different times.

Adobe photoshop on computer screen

Here are some benefits of using adjustment layers in photoshop:

1. Non destructive editing.

2. Adjustments can be saved in PSD.

3. Undos and redos stay forever when using adjustment layer, even after document close.

4. Adjustment layers can be coped over to different files.

5. Use blend modes just like any layer to vary intensity and effect matrix.

6. Masks are built in, so you can get creative with what parts to adjust.

Some features may not work in older versions of photoshop.

Creating an adjustment layer is easy, open your image and go to ”Layer” menu and choose “Adjustment Layer” then choose the effect you want to adjust. Here are all the 16 adjustment layers in CC 2019 that you can access:

1. Brightness & Contrast: This layer helps you adjust the range of brightness and contrast with sliders or you can also use the auto button to do it. Legacy option for old type brightness and contrast using the older Algorithm.

2. Levels: This layer helps you modify the adjustment levels in shadows, mid-tones and highlights to improve your image definition.

3. Curves: The classic image tonal curve can be changed to adjust the range of output for your image. Here you can add points and drag them high or low to change highlights, shadows and mid ranges in whichever range you want. For example if you want to change the lower part of mid range you can make a new point just below the mid level and adjust.

4. Exposure: This Layer has the exposure, offset and gamma correction sliders along with presets that you can choose to adjust your image. While Exposure adjust the highlights mainly, offset darkens the shadows and mid tones and gamma would adjust the mid tones.

5. Vibrance: This layer has the vibrance and saturation value sliders. The vibrance will try to make the image vivid by increasing the color saturation of colors that are more subtle and need up-lifting. The saturation sliders will evenly increase or decrease all colors in the image.

6. Hue/Saturation: You can adjust the hue, saturation and lightness of your image using this layer. You can selectively pick single colors too, so this is that layer which gets you a single red rose in a mono image without much fuss.

7. Color Balance: This adjustment layers helps you change color mixing in the image to bring out or settle down certain colors in an image.

8. Black & White: Helps you convert your color image into grayscale with fine control over which colors carry what monochromatic tones.

9. Photo Filter: No need for those retro and technicolor filters. This adjustment layer can help you add color filters over your image to get the desired color effect. You can use “preserve luminosity” checkbox if you don’t want your adjustments to darken or lighten the image luminous output as you apply the filters.

10. Channel Mixer: It modifies colors in your image to create effects of greyscale and color tint.

11. Color Lookup: This adjustment layers contains with presets that you can use to remap colors in your image for a unique look.

12. Invert: Simply inverts the photo for a negative effect.

13. Posterize: Makes your photo look like a poster with a simple levels slider.

14. Threshhold: Converts your photo into black and white using a threshold value. This helps in determining which parts turn to white and which to block for vivid output.

15. Gradient Map: Helps you convert a photo’s grayscale range into a gradient effect. you can choose your own gradient or make a new one.

16. Selective Color: This adjustment layer changes the weight of primary colors in an image to selectively change the tonal output of an image. Like if you want your blues to look more purplish!

I hope you will find the information interesting and get a few new ideas on how you can use the adjustment layers to enhance your photos or create new effects. In this time of indoor isolation in many places, it may be worth while to take a look at those old photos and see if they can be made better using the photoshop adjustment layers.

Photo credits: Artistashmita.

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