Layers and adjustment layers

Discussion in 'Photoshop Tutorials' started by junglejim, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. junglejim

    junglejim Guest

    After reading quite a few PS books, I still have a mental block about
    the difference between working in layers and in adjustment layers. Would
    appreciate some explanations such as:

    - What are all the operations that can only be done in layers but not in
    adjustment layers? And vice versa?

    - What are all the operations that should only be done in layers, but
    not in adjustment layers? And vice versa? And why?

    - Should layers and/or adjustment layers be merged before applying the
    clone tool, history brush, healing brush, etc. to remove dust and

    - Is it possible to applying sharpening to the L channel without merging
    the layers first?

    junglejim, Jun 6, 2004
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  2. You haven't understood anything about Adjustment layers. Layers are like
    transparent sheets, that contain image elements. That way, you can add a
    picture of say a bird to a landscape picture. The bird is on a separate
    layer, so you can still move it around and work on it without touching
    the background picture of the landscape.

    Adjustment layers are layers that do not contain image elements, but
    adjustment commands like 'Levels' or 'Curves'.
    See above.
    That depends on what to want to achieve. Filters and tools only work on
    one layer at a time (the selected layer). If you want your filter or
    tool to act on everything together, you'll have to flatten first.
    Yes, but you will only sharpen the L-channel of that one layer.
    Johan W. Elzenga, Jun 6, 2004
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  3. junglejim

    Jerry Guest

    Adjustment layers are just for: color change, like hue contrast
    Layers are use for all kind of thing. It is hard to explain at least u
    see it in action

    I use layer and mask all the time. Threat layers as from bottom up like
    transparency stock of photograph to make one solid image.

    You don’t have to merge anything. The only time you can do this is when
    you are sure 100% that the image you did doesn’t have to be change anymore.

    If you need specific help I’m doing web site. Please post question to my
    forum and I will graphically show how to do it. Visit:
    Jerry, Jun 6, 2004
  4. junglejim

    Tacit Guest

    - What are all the operations that can only be done in layers but not in
    A layer contains a picture--for example, you may build an image of people at
    the beach by taking a picture of the beach, putting it on one layer, taking a
    picture of your dad, putting it on another layer, and so on.

    And adjustment layer does not contain a picture. An adjustment layer is a
    COMMAND: "Make everything below this adjustment layer darker," "make everything
    below this adjustment layer blue," and so on.
    Tacit, Jun 6, 2004
  5. junglejim

    patrick Guest

    Layers stymied me for a long time when I started with PhotoShop. I finally
    had a white light experience in the middle of the night and came up with
    some physical analogies.

    Tlhe simplest explanation, I think, is the idea that an Adjustment Layer
    acts just like putting a filter in front of your camera lens. You have color
    filters, contrast filters, neutral density filters, graduated filters, etc.
    They generally have an overall effect on the entire film frame.

    Layers have images painted on clear, glass sheets that you place between
    yourself and the image you are viewing. The images on the layers can vary in
    density so they may entirely block what is on the image immediately below
    them, or they may be more faint so you partially see through them to the
    image below. When you finally flatten the layers, the upper layers are
    dropped on the bottom (original) layer and are merged into and become part
    of the bottom image.

    The big boys may object to this analogy but it helped get me over the

    Good luck! . . . . patrick
    patrick, Jun 6, 2004
  6. junglejim

    Bill Hilton Guest

    If you don't want to merge (and usually you don't) then just go to the top of
    the layer stack and make a new blank layer, then hold down the Alt key (PC) and
    keep it down while doing Layer -> Merge Visible and you'll get a new composite
    layer on top with all the underlying layer structure unchanged below. Now you
    can sharpen the L channel on this composite layer (or run USM and do Edit >
    Fade and change the mode to Luminosity to do something similar without the mode

    Bill Hilton, Jun 8, 2004
  7. junglejim

    junglejim Guest

    This is a great explanation, especially for someone with a knowledge of
    traditional photography. Sometimes the big boys are unable to use
    analogy to simplify an explanation.

    One minor point though. Instead of describing layers as "clear, glass
    sheets", I would describe them as "sheets with a variable opacity". A
    layer with 100% opacity will completely block the layers below it. A
    layer with <100% opacity will let all the layers below it to show
    through partially. The adjustment layers also have a variable opacity.

    One mistake I kept making was not associating adjustment layers with
    separate layers.
    junglejim, Jun 8, 2004
  8. junglejim

    junglejim Guest

    This will probably work if the image is already in LAB mode. But I work
    in RGB mode and then convert to LAB mode before sharpening the L
    channel. When I convert to LAB mode, there is a message asking if I want
    to merge the layers first (or something like that). Perhaps my question
    should be: is it possible to convert modes without flattening the
    junglejim, Jun 8, 2004
  9. You get a question if you want to flatten the layers first. Guess what
    happens if you say "Don't flatten"...
    Johan W. Elzenga, Jun 8, 2004
  10. junglejim

    Bill Hilton Guest

    If you don't want to merge (and usually you don't) then just go to the
    Don't convert the entire file, just copy the top composite layer into a new
    file and convert *it* to LAB.
    One of the edge sharpening actions I use assumes you're in LAB mode, so what I
    do is complete the composite merge step described above in RGB mode, then
    Select > All and Edit > Copy on the composite layer, open a new file in LAB
    mode and paste the data in, then run my action in LAB mode. When done working
    in LAB mode you can move the layer back to the original RGB file if you wish as
    a new top layer (the conversion to RGB is done automatically and all the
    underlying layers are still intact below) or just print with in it LAB mode, or
    whatever. I usually rename the new top layer to indicate it was edge sharpened
    and include the parameters in the name, something like "SOE r 1.0" to indicate
    the radius (since I always use the same threshold and amount when edge

    Bill Hilton, Jun 8, 2004
  11. junglejim

    junglejim Guest

    Thank you so much for this trick!
    junglejim, Jun 9, 2004
  12. junglejim

    junglejim Guest

    If you convert without flattening, the result will *keep* the layers,
    but will *lose* the adjustment layers. Not what I want, not sure if
    that's what you want. If you really want to help in this ng, try to
    understand the questions and provide relevant answers, like Bill did. Or
    stay on the sideline.
    junglejim, Jun 9, 2004
  13. Perhaps you should read the original question again before making
    comments on my answer. The question mentions specifically "a message
    asking if I want to merge the layers first (or something like that)".
    That will ONLY happen if you are talking about NORMAL layers. The
    question reads: "Changing modes will affect layer compositioning.
    Flatten image before mode change?" with buttons "Don't flatten",
    "Cancel" and "Flatten". It's clear you do indeed have a choice here.

    If your document contains adjustment layers, you do NOT get a question
    if you WANT to flatten or not. In that case you get a different message,
    that reads: "Changing modes will discard an adjustment layer; change
    mode anyway?". Clearly, this is not a question if you WANT to flatten
    first. You have no choice: change mode and you'll loose your adjustment

    So, in my opinion, the original question was clearly about normal layers
    only, and so there is nothing wrong with my answer.
    Johan W. Elzenga, Jun 9, 2004
  14. First, read my other answer. I do believe my answer was correct, even if
    you didn't like it.

    Next, here's a neat trick. You only want to convert to LAB mode because
    you want to sharpen the L-channel only, right? Try this: Use Unsharp
    Mask in RGB mode, and use a setting that is slightly too much. Next,
    choose "Fade Unsharp Mask". Set the mode to "Luminosity". That is the
    same as converting to LAB and sharpening the L-channel! Finally, if the
    effect is still too much, you can lower the slider to decrease the

    Like it, or should I stay on the sideline from now on if you ask a
    Johan W. Elzenga, Jun 9, 2004
  15. junglejim

    L. McKenzie Guest

    You are exactly right Johan.
    L. McKenzie, Jun 9, 2004
  16. junglejim

    junglejim Guest

    My apology for my comment and thanks for your help. There are enough
    Yanks offending the Europeans and there is no need for yet another one.

    - Not a Texan
    junglejim, Jun 11, 2004
  17. No hard feelings.
    Johan W. Elzenga, Jun 11, 2004
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