It’s difficult (verging on impossible) to exaggerate the importance of color adjustments in Photoshop. In the 19+ years I’ve been using the program, I don’t think I’ve come across a single image that I haven’t adjusted to some degree or other. And while there’s no single best command for adjusting colors (Feature #28: Hue/Saturation for one image, Feature #24: Curves for another), there is a best method: adjustment layers.
An adjustment layer is an independent layer of color adjustment that you can edit any time you like. Plus it affects all layers below it, consumes very little space in memory, and affords you the opportunity to make selective edits. In other words, it’s small and nondestructive. (Compare this to Feature #18: Smart Objects, which is huge and nondestructive.) The modest adjustment layer is also relatively easy to use—by Photoshop standards, anyway.
This video tells the story. In it, I take a great-looking flat photograph and turn it into something bordering on extraordinary using just two varieties of color adjustment, Vibrance and Brightness/Contrast (neither of which made the Top 4 list, demonstrating that adjustment layers are so awesome that they super-exist their commands). The secret-sauce to the adjustment layers’ success is layer masks, which is rather a sub-feature in this video.
For those interested (by which I mean you!), the great-looking flat photograph comes from image vendor Fotolia. This happens to be file #2439545 from Arrow Studio. For an exclusive dekeOnline deal, click this link.
(For a list of all Photoshop Top 40 videos thus far, click here.)
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