Adjustment Layers


Adjustment layers apply color and tonal adjustments to your image without permanently changing any pixels on the original photograph.

The color and tone adjustments are stored in the adjustment layer and apply to all the layers below it.

Rather than making a Levels or Curves adjustment directly on your original image, you can easily achieve the same results on  a layer.

Adjustment Layer Advantages

Here are some compelling reasons for using Adjustment Layers:

  1. Non destructive editing.  You can try out different settings and even go back after they are applied and change them without affecting the original document.  The opacity of the layer can also be changed to lower the effect of an adjustment.

  2. Reduced loss of image integrity through multiple adjustments.  Each time an adjustment is applied to an image there is a slight bit of data loss.  Adjustment layers make the adjustment without affecting the original image.

  3. Masking Ability.  After making an overall adjustment it can be removed from part of the image using masks.

  4. Copy and Paste Adjustments.  Adjustment layers can be copied and pasted between different documents to apply the same adjustment to multiple images.

  5. Really unique Blending.  The way one layer blends with a layer below it can be modified and changed in unique, effective and surprising ways.


The three digital editing programs used on this site

  • Photoshop
  • Photoshop Elements
  • Paint Shop Pro

each have the ability to add adjustment layers.  Each one has a number of different adjustment layers that can be added.

Photoshop - 15 adjustment layers
Photoshop Elements - 11 adjustment layers
Paint Shop Pro - 9 adjustment layers

Layer Name Photoshop Photoshop
Paint Shop
Pro Photo
Solid Color Yes Yes Yes
Gradient Yes Yes No
Pattern Yes Yes No
Levels Yes Yes No
Curves Yes No Yes
Color Balance Yes No Yes
Brightness/Contrast Yes Yes Yes
Hue/Saturation Yes Yes Yes
Selective Color Yes No No
Channel Mixer Yes No Yes
Gradient Map Yes Yes No
Photo Filter Yes Yes No
Invert Yes Yes Yes
Threshold Yes Yes Yes
Posterize Yes Yes Yes

From my experience (granted it is not the Photoshop Guru level) the most useful and most often used adjujstment layers and their inclusion in the three software packages are as follows:

Layer Photoshop Photoshop
Paint Shop
Pro Photo
Levels Yes Yes Yes
Curves Yes No Yes
Channel Mixer Yes No Yes
Hue Saturation Yes Yes Yes
Photo Filter Yes Yes No
Invert Yes Yes Yes
Brightness/Contrast Yes Yes Yes

It is easy to see, then, that Photoshop (full version) has the largest number of useful adjustment layers followed by Paint Shop Pro and then Photoshop Elements.

In practise Photoshop is the most versatile of the three programs followed closely by Paint Shop Pro with Photoshop Elements being the least versatile.

Blending Modes

Not only are adjustment layers really, really useful and powerful on their own but there is also the consideration of how they Blend with the layers below them.

Both basic and advanced blending is included with both Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro and only the basic blending is included with Photoshop Elements.

To learn more about adjustment layers included with your digital editor of choice click on the name ...


Paint Shop Pro

Photoshop Elements

Video Tutorials

Video tutorials are a fabulous way to lean a variety of different Photoshop Techniques.

When video tutorials are combined with text tutorials it makes learning a technique both easier and more effective.

For the best results work through the text tutorial and then watch the videos.

 digital darkroom enlarger
Enjoy This Site?
Then why not use the button below, to add us to your favorite bookmarking service?

Return to top

Site build It!

Use the Contact Form to ask questions, provide feedback or comments.

Questions are good - so are comments - or requests!

Return Home from Adjustment Layers
Copyright© 2008-2011.