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Creating adjustment layers

Unlike the commands applied via the Image > Adjustments submenu, which cause permanent changes to the current layer, adjustment layers are temporary and flexible. You can change their settings; restack, hide, show, or delete them at any time; and even drag-copy them between files—and they don’t increase the file size. The adjustment becomes permanent only when you merge the layer downward into the underlying one or flatten the document. Note: The last six commands on the Image > Adjustments submenu can be applied only via their respective dialogs, not via an adjustment layer.

The Adjustments panel makes it super easy to create and edit adjustment layers. In addition to providing quick access to most adjustment controls, the panel also provides added features, such as adjustment presets and preview and resetting options. When creating an adjustment layer, you can choose a settings preset (if available) or custom settings. By using the presets, you can quickly apply basic adjustments, such as increasing the image contrast using three progressively stronger settings via Levels, or increasing the saturation using progressively stronger settings via Hue/Saturation. You can also customize the settings from any preset.

To create an adjustment layer:star.jpg

  1. Click the image layer above which you want the adjustment layer to appear.
  2. Optional: To restrict the effect of the adjustment to a specific area, create a selection.
  3. Display the Adjustments panel. adjustment-panel.jpg The Add an Adjustment buttons and scroll list display.A
    • To redisplay the Add an Adjustment list when controls for an adjustment layer are displaying, click the Return to Adjustment List button adjt-list-btn.jpg at the bottom of the panel.
  4. Do either of the following:
    • Click the button for the desired adjustment type. They are arranged as follows: tonal adjustments in the top row, color adjustments in the middle row, and miscellaneous adjustments in the bottom row.
    • Click an arrowhead on the scroll list to expand a category of presets, then click a preset (not all of the adjustment types have Adobe presets).
  5. Controls for the adjustment layer will display on the panel. A new adjustment layer will appear on the Layers panel, containing a thumbnail icon for that particular adjustment type and an editable mask (A, next page). If you clicked a preset, the controls are set for you already.
  6. Choose the desired settings (if you chose a preset, you can customize the settings or leave them as is).
    • To enlarge the Adjustments panel, click the Switch Panel to Expand View button expnd-view-btn.jpg at the bottom of the panel; click the button again to restore it to Standard view.
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