Learning About Adjustment Layers

Photoshop has so many great tools within its program and playing around with them can be fun and frustrating at the same time.  Most of the time I learn how to use the tools simply by clicking and hitting the undo button until I get the effect I want.  This has worked for me in the past, but now I am at the point with Photoshop that I would like to know why I get the effects I do and learn more about the options within the tools.

Scrapaneers has been offering a series of self-paced classes, Photoshop Power Tools with Amanda Taylor, that were exactly what I was looking for.   I have been working on the latest class, The Power of Adjustment Layers, this month and finally understand how to use the Adjustment Layers to edit photos.  It is like Photoshop has these secret rooms hidden within the tools and you just need someone to show you how to discover them.

What I really wanted to get out of the class was how to use Levels and Curves properly.  This is where I usually just click and slide the buttons randomly until I get an image I like without a clue what I am doing.  Now I get it!  Here is a photo of Robyn that I used to practice with:

Learning About Adjustment Layers - Birdwing Paper Designs

Learning how to edit photos properly not only improves the lighting, but also adds character to the image.  This photo works perfectly with the soft pink and green tones in the digital kit (Little Sprout by One Little Bird Designs) used below.

Sweet Pea - Birdwing Paper Designs

In the colour adjustments section of the class I learned how to use the the Hue/Saturation tool to alter colours in a photo and was able to also apply it to digital elements.

Learning About Adjustment Layers - Birdwing Paper Designs

Now the colour of the tag works better with the rest of the elements in this layout:

Macaroons - Birdwing Paper Designs

And finally, the big “Aha moment” for me happened in the lesson about using the Gradient Map.  I had used the Gradient Map before to change my photos to black and white, but I had no idea there was a secret world hidden in the settings called Photographic Toning.  With this tool, photos don’t need to be just black and white anymore, they can take on any number of tones.

The photo of Casey below was taken on a super sunny day so I first had to edit the levels and curves to get rid of the hazy look.  Then I added a platinum gradient map to turn the image to black and white.  Finally, I added a colour lookup (which I had never even heard of before this class) which gave the photo a film industry quality.  This particular one is filmstock_50.3dl.

Learning About Adjustment Layers - Birdwing Paper Designs

The resulting photo works brilliantly with this digital kit, Pocket Life January 2015, from Traci Reed.

Awesome Hockey - Birdwing Paper Designs

My photo editing skills may not be perfect yet, but at least I now have the knowledge within me to continue practicing and discovering what Photoshop can do.

If you want to learn more about Adjustment Layers, I would definitely recommend this course, and all the others in the Power of Photoshop series at Scrapaneers.

Have fun photo editing!






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