Adobe Photoshop - Controlling Layers Affected by and Adjustment Layer

This guide will show you how to customize which layers the adjustment layer modifies.


When an adjustment layer is added, it affects every layer below the adjustment layer by default. However, it’s almost always useful to be able to control what layers the adjustment layers affect. 

To have the adjustment layer to only affect the one layer below the adjustment layer:

  1. Choose Layer and then create clipping mask or click the shortcut icon on the properties panel of the adjustment layer.

To allow the adjustment layer to affect more than one layer selectively:

  1. Select the layers to effect by holding the Cmd key on Mac or Ctrl key on Windows
  2. Use the keyboard shortcut Cmd + G or Ctrl + G on Windows, or drag the two layers down to the folder icon at the bottom of the layers panel, this places these layers into a group.
  3. Select the adjustment layer and either click clipping mask shortcut in the properties panel or navigate to the Layer and then choose create clipping mask.

Additional photos can be added to that group folder, and they would all have the adjustment applied to them. Or one of the images can be taken outside of the group and it would automatically lose the effect from the adjustment layer. To make a change to the adjustment layer, all you have to do is make your changes once and it will affect all the layers in the group.

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