The Adjustments Panel:
This is the simplest panel in Photoshop and the easiest way to add an Adjustment Layer. Just press the icon for the desired adjustment and 2 things happen:
1. The Adjustment Layer shows up in the Layers Panel.
2. The properties and controls for that adjustment show up in the Properties Panel.
Two of the icons for the adjustments you should be using the most, Levels and Hue-Saturation, are shown in the diagram. If you want to know what the others are, hover your mouse over the icon, and the “tool tip” balloon will tell you what it is.
Tip: For more on setting up your Photoshop Workspace with Panels, visit Setting Up a Photoshop CS6 Workspace with Panels.
For more on why you should be working in Adjustment Layers, visitPhotoshop CS6 / CC: The Levels Adjustment Layer – Part 1.
The Properties Panel:
The Properties Panel has two “Views”, both tied to the active Adjustment Layer on your Layers Panel:
1. The Adjustment Properties View
2. The Mask Properties View
Two ways to switch…
There are two ways to switch between the Views:
1. Click on the appropriate Icon in the Properties Panel
2. Click on Adjustment Icon or Layer Mask Thumbnail in your Adjustment Layer (in your Layers Panel)
An explanation of some of the functions in the Adjustment Properties View:
Toggle Layer Visibility – This shows and hides the visibility of the layer – when this is toggled, the Layer Visibility button in your Adjustment Layer (in your Layers Panel) will show the same results.
Reset to Default – This returns the adjustment to its default settings.
Delete Layer- This discards the current layer in your Adjustment Layer.
Clip to Layer – Most of the time, it’s best to leave this one alone. Otherwise, click it to affect only the layers below it in the Adjustment Panel.
Previous State – Click to view the previous state (one step back) of your adjustment.
An explanation of some of the functions in the Mask Properties View.
By the way, these will make more sense once you start creating and “shaping” Layer Masks. To learn more about Layer Masks visit this series: The Power of Layer Masks in Photoshop: Part 1:
Mask Density – This is just an Opacity slider: If you’d like to adjust the opacity of your Mask, here’s an easy way to accomplish it, although I personally don’t use it very often.
Mask Edge – This is a shortcut to the “Refine Mask” tool – – to be discussed in the future.
Color Range – This is a shortcut to the “Color Range” tool. See “Photoshop Help” for more on this interesting Selection Tool.
Feather Edge – This is a non-destructive way to feather and soften the edge of your Mask.
Invert Selection – This simply inverts your selection.
Delete Mask – This deletes your current Layer Mask.
Disable/Enable Mask – This disables your Mask, which is good for ‘before and after” scenarios.
Load Selection from Mask – This reloads your selection, allowing you to use another adjustment or tool with the same selection.