February 4, 2011 / Photoshop/Illustrator / Winter 2011

Photoshop Fun: Edit photos with Adjustment Layers

Written by Idea File Staff

An Adjustment Layer in Photoshop allows you to make edits to your work without actually changing your original layer. For example, rather than using Levels or Color Balance directly on your original photo, you can create a Levels or Color Balance Adjustment Layer that will not alter the original image information. The color and tonal adjustments are stored with the Adjustment Layer and are applied to all the layers below it.

So,  Adjustment Layers allows you to correct multiple layers at once using a single adjustment, and, discard your changes and restore the original image at any time.

Photoshop CS4 offers 15 Adjustments, or presets: Brightness/Contrast, Levels, Curves, Exposure, Vibrance, Hue/Saturation, Color Balance, Black & White, Photo Filter, Channel Mixer, Invert, Posterize, Threshold, Gradient Map and Selective Color. Earlier versions of Photoshop have Adjustment Layers, just not as many.

To use  Adjustment Layers, open an image you would like to edit and follow these steps:

1. Go to the layer of the image you want to adjust (in this case, the original layer called Ocean).

2. Select the half black and half white circle at the bottom of the Layers palette. A list of the 15 adjustments will appear. Select the preset you would like to try. In this exercise we used the Vibrance Adjustment.


3. Once you have selected the adjustment, the Adjustments palette will give you various options to alter the layer. The Vibrance options lets you modify the vibrance and saturation of the image. We set the Vibrance to +80 and the Saturation to +40. This increases the amount of color of the entire photo.


4. Numerous Adjustment Layers can be used in conjunction with each other to affect your image.


5. Here is the finished image. To return to your original image, simply turn off the layer or even delete the entire Adjustment Layer. You are back to your unaltered photo.


With all of the adjustment presets available to use in combination, the creative possibilities are endless.

Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.