Adobe Photoshop - Introduction to Adjustment Layers

This guide will show you how to create and use Adjustments layers to make non-destructive edits to your images.


Adjustment Layers are the easiest, non-destructive way to make photo corrections to your images. Because the adjustments are stored in individual layers and are not made to your image directly, they provide an easy way for you to experiment with your images.

Making an Adjustment using the Adjustments Panel

  1. Refer to the Adjustments panel.

  2. Select the Black and White Adjustment from the Adjustments panel.
  3. Click on it in order to add it.
  4. Use the sliders to make changes by dragging them left or right.
  5. Refer back to the Layers panel, note that this has not made a permanent change to the layer. It has just added a secondary layer on top.
  6. Decrease the opacity of this layer by clicking on the Opacity slider and decreasing the opacity.

Fine Tuning with Masks

  1. A mask was automatically created when the Adjustment Layer was added.

  2. Press the G key to grab the gradient tool, or select the gradient tool from the tools panel on the left.
  3. With the black and white adjustment layer selected, click on the left side of the image and drag over to the right side.
  4. To make this more obvious increase the opacity back up to 100%.

Adjustment Layers are a way to make nondestructive Adjustments in Photoshop. Understand the difference between adding an Adjustment Layer and making an Adjustment under the Image menu.

Making an Adjustment under the Image Menu

  1. Choose Image and then Adjustments.
  2. Select the Black and White Adjustment and then click OK.
  3. Refer to the Layers panel, this has made a permanent change.

Adjustment Layers, because they're non destructive and because you can go back in and re-edit them at any time, are much more powerful than using the destructive edits under the image menu.

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