The Power of Adjustment Layers in Photoshop, Part II



04/02/20 Updated here:




Adjustment Layers

Here is a continuation of Part I concerning Adjustment Layers in Photoshop – – If you did not read the first post, I’d encourage you to do so.

Two Ways to Create a New Layer:

  1. You can create a new Adjustment Layer by clicking on the “Create a New Adjustment Layer” button. An Adjustment Layer comes “pre–loaded” with a tool or function, as well as a Layer Mask (see this post and this post for more on Layer Masks). You will create your new layers with this button most of the time. By the way, even though this button is not a true “Yin-Yang” symbol, it is common slang in the Photoshop community.
  2. You can create a new layer by clicking on the “Create a New Layer” button. A New Layer is “empty”. You’ll create a tool or function that will be active in this layer manually.

To Edit an Existing Layer:

To edit, double-click on the Layer Thumbnail — It is the box on the left in an Adjustment Layer, not the Layer Mask Thumbnail on the right. Once you double-click on the Layer Thumbnail, the Dialog Box for that particular tool will pop up.
Layer Order:

The topmost layer in your layers palette will affect all of those below it. By moving the layer order around, you can see the effect of layer order. To change the layer order, simply drag your layer to the desired location.

Three Ways to Change the Numerical Values in an Adjustment Layer:

3 ways to change values

The three ways to change the numerical values in most (not all) adjustment layers are:

1. Move the desired slighter to increase or decrease the value. This works well for coarse adjustments.

2. Insert numerical values with your keypad manually in the appropriate box. This works well, if you have a particular numerical value in mind.

3. With your cursor placed in the numerical value box, use the arrow keys to make small incremental changes. This works well for fine adjustments.

To Reset your Values to the Default Settings in an Adjustment Layer:

Did you make a mistake in your input? Are you not happy with the results you’re getting? Want to start over, without closing the Adjustment Layer and reopening it?

With the dialog box still open, simply hold down the “Option” key on your Mac (“Alt” in Windows), and the “Cancel” button turns into a “Reset” button. Press “Reset”, and Voilà! You’re back to the default values.


Now that you know more about the power Adjustment Layers, a whole new world will open up to you in Photoshop – Enjoy!


John 🙂


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