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Layers & Adjustment Layers, Part 2

  • start to finish use of adjustment layers to correct and image
  • Layer masks differ from Alpha Channels ONLY in that Layer Masks move in unison with a layer. They will still apply to the layer after you move it.
    • Alpha Channels are simply saved selections. They are NOT moveable. If you need to move it with a layer, load the selection, highlight the appropriate layer, go to LAYER - LAYER MASK - REVEAL SELECTION. Now you have made the selection from the Alpha Channel into a layer mask and if you move that layer the mask (selection) will move with it.
    • If you want to replace the Alpha Channel with the new moved selection, go to SELECT - SAVE SELECTION, and save it over the original one.

Layers & Adjustment Layers, Part 2

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:06
  • Unlocking The Background Layer & Linking Layers 0:30
    • Unlocking The Background Layer
    • Linking Layers
  • Adjustment Layers & Layer Masks 7:15
    • Adjustment Layers & Layer Masks
  • Masks vs. Alpha Channels 17:18
    • Mask vs. Alpha Channels

Transcription: Layers & Adjustment Layers, Part 2

Hi everybody, Mike Brown again, welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

In the last lesson we started talking about layers and adjustment layers, and the functionality of layers and how they work, and also what adjustment layers were briefly.0007

In this lesson we're going to expand on adjustment layers and layer masks, and more about layers--I neglected to mention two important items about the functionality of layers, so let's start right off with that.0018

Two more things about layers.0033

Here's our layers sample again--I'm going to change my screen mode; letter F as in Frank, move it over, open up my Layers panel.0035

Remember you can turn your layers on and off, you can shift their order in the stack up and down or remember they're visible from the top down.0044

You can also move more than one layer at one time, highlight one, Command or Control click to highlight a second one and it doesn't matter which one you grab, let's move them to the top, up they come--you see the little line highlights, now they're up.0054

You can combine layers, let's go back up with that one, star on top, circle right below it, and let's lock the star and the square.0069

Highlight the star; Command or Control click, we have the two layers highlighted that we want to merge together.0080

Go up to the dropdown menu, it will merge the active layers into the topmost in the stack with the name in position of the topmost layer.0089

Merge layers, notice it's now layer one with the two items locked--we'll undo that...get it through there, OK.0102

I neglected to talk about the background layer.0112

Right now, it's locked, you can't move it up, you can alter it by painting on it, you could also retouch things on it, but you cannot delete from it--in other words you could undo what you added but you can't delete to transparency as with the other layers.0115

If I select an area, and I click the delete, it will only allow me to do color, content, history and so on and will not allow me to delete that, but we can change a background layer to a regular layer very easily.0135

Double click get this box, rename it, we'll call it Unlocked Background Layer.0152

You could also color code it, make a blend mode if you wish, change the opacity but we're just changing it into a layer.0164

Notice the lock disappeared, now we can move it up anywhere we want to, adjust our opacity down on it as we choose, we can also take that Marquee tool this time and delete to transparent.0170

Look at the thumbnail, and you can see it appearing around here so if we move it all the way up to the top, we've now created a Mac out where you can see through it to the bottom.0186

That's how you modify your background layer, so that takes care of the unlocking a background layer.0197

Let's talk--got the wrong brush...check that one off...let's talk about linking layers for a moment.0210

Now, to link layers let's do it with this title box right here.0220

Highly layered panel, let's say--let me identify, on this layer right here, notice the text layer has three of my options on it, below that is a fourth one because I'd added a new one, and we also have this layer here for the checking.0227

Let's say I wanted to add one more on that first layer; I'll take my type tool, highlight the layer, click, come down, type in four, and we'll just put some garbage--type in there so you can see it, and now I have to rearrange things.0245

I need to take the layer up here and move it down--Move tool, (I used my arrow keys) and drop it down.0262

OK, we've done it, but now the composition's up my border doesn't look right, I need more at the bottom.0271

Image, Canvas Size, we'll lock it so I can only add at the bottom, let's make it like 3.8 and click OK.0277

Well, now I'm wrong the other way--I could crop it up, but let's just move this group...there's three layers involved; this one, this one and this one, so I can highlight one (Command or Control 2, Command or Control 3) Move tool, and move them around.0286

Now, let's just say this was some sort of a composition where I might increase the amount in that stack again, so that I would have to do this one more time.0309

Now obviously we did that, but once we move away they're no longer connected so that we can move them again.0320

Well, we can permanently connect them, permanently until you decide not to by highlighting all three of them again, and going to this icon at the lower part of the Layers panel.0328

Remember this was layer effects, this one is a new mask, this is your adjustment layers, this is a group folder, a new layer and the trash.0342

This is the link icon--it will link highlighted layers.0352

Click, there's my link, so now even if only one layer is highlighted, and I use my Move tool, all three of them are permanently linked until I would change that, and the way I would change that is highlight one of them, go to the dropdown menu to unlink layers.0357

And it will only unlink that one you notice because that's the only one that's highlighted.0380

Command+Z, that's if you want to remove a single one at a time.0385

Let's say we don't care about the check marking, we just want to remove that, leave the type alone.0390

We just go unlink layer, now we have two left--Command+Z.0396

If we want to unlink all of them, first of all you highlight one, dropdown, select linked layers--now they're all selected, go back again, unlink layers and all three of them are now unlinked, that's what the linked icon is all about.0402

So let's go ahead and cross that particular one off...come on, highlight one, check it off.0421

Alright, that gets us up to speed on layers, let's talk more about adjustment layers, and at the same time, layer mask--we're going to intermix this together.0429

Let's pick this photo right here, change the screen mode, notice it's just a background layer, just in a freshly opened image.0442

What's the first thing we do when we open an image?0455

Very good, duplicate the background layer--how do we do that?0460

Command or Control on a PC, the letter J, shortcut or dropdown menu--duplicate menu, or the Layer dropdown menu, duplicate layer, now we have our duplicate layer.0464

I look at this image, and I'd like to work on the sky, I'd like to work on the overall exposure, I'd also like to bring the color up overall, and I'd like to maybe work on this bluff right here, how can we do that simply?0477

Well we know how to make a sky selection, we know how overall's very simple, we'll start out with an adjustment layer for exposure; curves.0492

And as the layer created itself, there's the exposure adjustment, remember this is a mathematical formula, we can always change it, come back and change it again, but it also automatically adds a mask.0505

A mask, if you remember, is the same as a saved selection--an alpha channel and a mask are the same thing, this is the same.0521

Option or Alt to view it, it's white which means that it's completely revealing, there is no mask at the moment.0530

We'll deal with that in a little bit.0538

Now you notice when I highlight the mask and I get the little frame around it the Properties panel gives me a masks adjustment panel, if we hit the mask edge, look what we have.0541

Refine mask, which is exactly the same as the refine edge dialog box to refine a selection, because what is a mask?0556

It is a selection--we didn't have to load it, but we can do the same exact things we did to a selection.0566

OK, and you can output right back to a layer mask, or a selection.0573

We'll cancel that, if we highlight the adjustment itself in an adjustment layer (there's the little frame around it) notice we now have our curves adjustment.0580

By the way you can increase the size of these boxes so that the adjustment is easily viewed.0592

We're going to work overall, so I want to increase it just a little bit in exposure, leave the whites alone so I don't burn them and snap the contrast...a little bit...that's pretty good, and now remember as a layer, you can turn a layer on and off and an adjustment layer is just like a layer--it can go down below.0600

Now you see nothing because of course our duplicate layer is above--we'll move it backwards and a visible point top down, turn it off, turn it on, that was a bit of an improvement.0623

Let's take a hue saturation layer...and again, you'll get a mask, and what we'll do this time is just jack the, just a little bit of hue saturation, turn it off, turn it on just a little bit so you can see it in the foreground here, how the color came up.0634

So we have those two.0655

Now, I would like to do the sky by itself, and how I'm going to do that--I'll make a selection; Quick Selection tool, increase the brush size a little bit (right bracket key up, left bracket key down) and just wrote it to the sky, and it looks pretty decent, I think I probably missed a little bit.0658

We're not going to worry too much about it--I see an option, pull back here just a hair, option right there, OK, close enough.0680

You can look at it with Quick Mask...we're going to actually go to refine edge, feather at one just so we have a little edge on it, done, OK?0690

Sky selection, now I'd like to make an adjustment for the sky.0700

We're not going to do pixels, we need to be on our main layer--you can't make an adjustment of an adjustment layer.0705

Image adjust--we could go here in the pixel stuff--remember we don't use that hardly anymore.0712

We're going to use adjustment layers--an adjustment layer for the sky for curves.0717

Low and behold, notice the layer mask now is a true mask--it took that sky selection, and made a mask for that layer so that the adjustment will only act upon the sky.0723

To view the layer, the adjustment, to view the adjustment mask, layer mask, Option or Alt on a PC, click, there it is!0739

Sky only--Option or Alt, click again, and now we'll just highlight the particular adjustment and we'll take the sky and bring it down and let's snap the contrast to it...that's kind of cool, I don't know if we can do anything else...that's good enough right there, give you the idea.0750

Turn off, turn it on, we have now separately adjusted the sky, now I want you to see that when I turn this off and on which is the overall curves, it too affected the sky even more because this effect affects this layer, affects this layer--they're all coming down through so the curves and the hue saturation--all three of them are working on this layer but this one is the additional sky only.0774

I want to do one more and we'll talk a little more about that as we go.0806

I want to adjust this bluff, so I'm going to do this the easy way--here's a trick, watch.0809

We're going to make an adjustment layer kind of like we did here for the sky but just for this bluff.0815

We need to accurately do it and there's a real quick way, efficiency.0820

Quick Mask, take our brush and we're painting a mask, so we'll have to invert the selection, remember double click, we're going to paint a mask, that's OK.0824

Quick Mask on, brush size up, now I'm not going to worry too much about this hard edge, we'll fix that in a minute.0838

Just go down the bluff, come on over with a nice soft edge at the bottom, we'll just partly fill it in, we'll call it right there.0848

Hit the Quick Mask, now it's--remember, we made a mask, so we need to invert that, invert selection, Quick Mask--notice, now it's just a selection--you see a mistake, no problem, watch this.0856

Now, let's make a curves adjustment layer for just the bluff...and let's take a look at the mask--Option or Alt, click.0874

We see that the mask is not proper so let's paint it--you can paint a mask, no problem.0888

With the brush, we're going to paint white, and look...we've fixed the missed areas of painting, that's good.0893

Option or Alt on a PC, click and we're out.0903

Command click, Command or Control--notice we have an edge out, we'd like to match that edge up with the sky, how do we do that?0907

Very's the sky, we'll load the selection of the sky, there it is, perfectly along that ridged line.0916

We'll make visible and highlight the curves adjustment layer for the bluff--Option or Alt, click, look--that's a selected area there and there's white in there that we don't need, so we'll flip this to black foreground, take the paintbrush, and just paint along.0927

And now we've matched up that edge very, very easily, and we'll go Option or Alt, click, and now we'll go Command or Control click that and there is your...see?0949

Perfect on the ridge and soft below.0964

Using different masks to help modify a new mask.0968

OK, now we just go to that, and we can Command or Control+H to hide it, let's just open up that ridge line just a little bit...there we go.0973

Turn it off, turn it on, Command or Control+D, and that's how you deal with adjustment layers and layer masks.0985

One lesson we're going to continue this as we go on, there we go.0996

OK, let's go back to the beginning...there we have...more adjustment layers--you see now that the masks are attached with them and how they're infinitely changeable--you saw that already, and now we can play with the mask feature on the adjustment layer.1000

And adjust the mask, change it, anything we want to do with that and continue to change your adjustment layers.1022

A real powerful feature.1029

Layer masks--you understand what they are now, how and why...and the final thing I want to talk about is masks versus alpha channels.1033

Let's go back to the Grand Canyon, and I want to just load up this selection here of this sky; Command or Control click the mask.1044

Then I'm going to go to Select, oh actually we'll do this on another image, here we go, flower composite.1055

OK, I already have two adjustment layers with the associated masks for this rose in this composite.1061

The rose itself as you see is a pink rose--that's the physical layer, there's a curves layer and a hue saturation layer, and you notice that the mask is of the rose.1071

I'm going to load the Option or Alt click to get it back, Command or Control click the mask, there's the selection, select, save selection.1084

I will call it...Rose...and now de-select that, open up my Channels panel...and look what you have--there's the rose.1095

That's the alpha channel--we talked about them before--it's the black and white representation of the rose selection.1110

Well, watch carefully when I Option or Alt click, it's exactly the same thing--Option or Alt click, and that one's the same as that--all three of those are identical.1116

So it shows you that an alpha channel and a layer mask are saved selections, saved as black and white, they're identical with one powerful exception.1132

The alpha channel cannot be moved--you can modify it, you can paint on it, modify it, but you cannot move that selection.1148

Over here, once it's made into a layer mask, I'm going to select all three of these layers--Command or Control click all three, so the rose and the curves and the hue saturation layer, with appropriate masks for the rose are all selected.1160

Let's move them, watch...look at the thumbnails, I'm down over here, and look at the thumbnail now.1180

The rose mask moved...the actual selection itself moved, and I don't have anything selected, I just have the three layers connected so I could move them.1191

Masks are this--let's go back to the beginning and I'll just take the hue saturation all by itself.1207

No selection, and move it, look what happens, see?1216

That color change is moving all over the place, you can even see it in the alpha channel--there's a hue saturation mask that shows up temporarily, it just moves wherever I want to move it to.1220

What that shows you, they're the same and they're different--you cannot move a selection--you can modify it, you can move the mask of a layer mask any time you want to, and it gives you the power of having adjustments on a physical layer and then moving the adjustments and the layer to somewhere else.1232

So that's the difference between, and the similarities between alpha channels and layer masks, OK?1257

So we'll come back in the next lesson, and I'm going to show you a couple of really cool tricks on becoming very efficient with alpha channels and layer masks in working completely on an object.1267

I'll see you in the next lesson.1282