Q&A: Adjustment layers
Janina Koenig, Germany
Answer Tony replies
One of the main advantages of Photoshop is the Layers system. Being able keep things separate enables you to make significant changes in minutes. With Adjustment layers, you can create colour, value and edge modifications that click on and off easily. A lot of the major functions of Adjustment layers can be applied to images (or layers) under the Edit panel, but doing it with an Adjustment layer makes it possible still see and edit the original art, hours after you’ve run out of History states.
If you look at the bottom of the Layers window, you’ll see a circle that split into dark and light halves. Click it to bring up the list of Adjustment layer types. There are quite a few; and for this article I’m going to cover the three I use most.
There’s a saying people use when working with masks: “Black conceals, white reveals.” I find this a bit confusing, mostly because of how often at first I’d wonder if it was the mask or the original that I was revealing or concealing. Just try to remember that it’s referring to the mask and you’re in business.
Here’s the main image, without any adjustments. Comparing this to the steps should give you an idea of how each works.