Part two of our Tips From Photoshop World series. For part one, click here.
Today I'm going to talk a little bit about one of my favorite features in Photoshop, the adjustment layer. Many of the presenters at Photoshop World emphasized using this tool, so here are a few tips on putting it to stylish use.
When it's time to make an adjustment to our Photoshop project, most of us choose some of the adjustment tools under the Images>Adjustments drop-down menu. After all, it's full of useful adjustments like Curves, Color Balance and Brightness/Contrast, among many others.
They're all helpful (and often necessary), but here's the problem with making adjustments this way: It applies the result to the whole image. Also, any tweaks you want to make to the resulting effect require you to undo the original and redo it until you are happy with the outcome.
So, here's a more efficient way. Try applying an adjustment with an adjustment layer. It's the small black and white circle button at the bottom of your layers palette.
This button will give you a pop-up menu that looks like what you're used to seeing under Image>Adjustments, but it's much more user-friendly. When your adjustment is selected and applied, it does not simply affect your whole image and leave it at that. It actually creates a layer in your layers palette that can be turned off and on and even adjusted further. Nifty!
With an adjustment layer, only the layers below your adjustment layer will be affected by the adjustment. This is helpful when you're working on a Photoshop project that consists of multiple images that may not have been taken with the same camera or under the same conditions. For example, if one component of your project is noticeably lighter than the rest, simply apply a Curves Adjustment Layer directly above the lighter layer, adjust the curves just as you normally would, click OK, then right-click the adjustment layer and choose Create Clipping Mask. This will cause the adjustment layer to only affect the layer directly below it, leaving the rest of your document untouched. If you decide later that the adjustment needs to be tweaked, simply double-click the adjustment layer in your layers palette and make whatever changes you like.
If you have never worked with adjustment layers before, give 'em a try. Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions when trying this for the first time and enjoy this great new tool!