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Using fill and adjustment layers

The command in a fill layer (such as a Gradient Fill layer) or adjustment layer (such as a Levels adjustment layer) affects all the layers below it. We like to use them because they’re flexible, meaning you can change their settings as often as you like, restack or hide/show them at any time, and even drag-copy them between files. When you’re done using an adjustment layer, you can either merge it downward to make the changes permanent or toss it out. Now, how easy is that?

To create a fill or adjustment layer:

  1. Click the layer that you want the fill or adjustment layer to appear above.
  2. From the New Fill/Adjustment Layer menu adjust_layer.jpgat the bottom of the Layers palette, choose a command. A
  3. The dialog for the chosen command opens. Choose the desired settings, then click OK. The fill or adjustment layer will appear on the Layers palette; it will have a unique thumbnail icon for its particular command B and an editable mask.

To change the settings for a fill or adjustment layer:

  1. On the Layers palette, double-click the fill or adjustment layer thumbnail (the thumbnail on the left).
  2. Make the desired changes in the dialog, then click OK.

When you merge down a fill or adjustment layer, the changes are applied permanently to the underlying layer.

To merge a fill or adjustment layer:

  • Do either of the following:

    Click the fill or adjustment layer to be merged downward, then press Ctrl-E/Cmd-E.

    Right-click/Control-click near the fill or adjustment layer name and choose Merge Down.

  • Adjustment layers don’t contain pixels, so you can’t merge them with one another. However, you can merge multiple adjustment layers into an image layer (or layers) by using either the Merge Visible or Flatten Image command on the Layers palette menu.

In the course of correcting an image, you can use multiple adjustment layers to address different specific tonal and color problems. If you nest the adjustment layers in a group, the Layers palette will be better organized, plus you’ll have the option to add a layer mask that applies to all the layers in the group.

To create a layer group:

  • To quickly hide or show all the adjustment layers, click the visibility icon for the group.

One way to limit the effect of an individual fill or adjustment layer is by editing the layer mask for that layer. And with your fill or adjustment layers in a group, you can create (and edit) a layer mask just for the group that will affect all the layers nested within it.

To create a layer mask for a layer group:

  1. Do either of the following:

    Create a new selection on an image layer.

    To load a selection that you’ve already saved, Ctrl-click/Cmd-click the alpha channel on the Channels palette.

  2. On the Layers palette, click the adjustment group, then click the Add Layer Mask button.add_layer_mask.jpg A mask thumbnail will appear on the group layer. C
  3. Optional: Edit the layer mask, such as by applying a gradient or by using the Brush tool.
  • Although each adjustment layer in a group has its own layer mask, the mask effect may be limited by any dark areas that you add to the group mask.
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