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Adjustment Layers are our go-to tools for adjusting colours in a photo in a way which allows us to easily edit our changes. They’re a special type of layer which affects everything below them in the stacking order, unless it’s masked.

photohsop-adjustment-layers-panels

You can add an Adjustment Layer on an image from the button at the bottom of the Layers panel, as shown above. The Adjustment Layer appears above the targeted layer in the stacking order. It affects all layers below it.

Masking

photoshop-adjustment-layers-mask

All Adjustment Layers come with a mask. In the image above, the adjustments affects the layer below only where the mask is white.

Adjustment Layers allow you to edit colours in photos without touching the photo’s original pixels. They’re overlays that sit above (or between) your layers to affect the layers below. It’s like looking through rose-coloured glasses. Adjustment Layers come with a Layer Mask built in. We’ll experiment colouring part of a photo.

Properties

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When you add an Adjustment Layer, the Properties panel appears to allow you to edit its settings. The Properties panel changes depending on the type of Adjustment Layer you’re using.

Opacity & Blend Modes

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You can also edit the opacity and the blend mode of an Adjustment Layer to affect how it interacts with the layers below.

You can explore Adjustment Layers freely because they’re non-destructive. You can simply edit settings or delete the Adjustment Layer if things don’t work out.

Examples

Berries

We’ll colourize some of the berries in this photo as seamlessly as possible.

photoshop-adjustment-layers-berries

These are the steps:

  • Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.
  • Name your adjustment layer.
  • Click Colourize in the Properties Panel
  • Fill the adjustment layer’s mask with black with Edit > Fill > Black.
  • Paint berries with a very soft brush to change their colour.
  • Set the blend mode of your adjustment layer to Hue.

Colourize a Classic Car

We can use an Adjustment Layer and Blend Modes to seamlessly change the colour of a car in seconds. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Make it a solid blue with the help of the Colourize button. Set the Adjustment Layer’s Blend Mode to Hue. Voilà!

Note how beautifully the blues are reflected on the chrome bumper and the headlights. Nice.

photoshop-adjustment-layers

The Adjustment Layer is acting like a coloured acetate over our photo. The Hue Blend Mode helps the colour blend with the paint below.

[The Hue blend mode] creates a result colour with the luminance and saturation of the base colour and the hue of the blend colour. Adobe

Adjustment Layers are great tools for non-destructive editing in Photoshop. Keep in mind, that the stacking order in your Layers Panel counts.

Formative Activity

Your job is to use Adjustment Layers to edit the photos as shown below.

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Create Adjustment Layers to edit the colours of her eyes and of her lips. Make sure your edits are as seamless as possible.

photoshop-adjustment-layers-hat-exercise

Change the colour of the hat with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Your edits mustn’t be detectable.