Making Adjustments with Clipping Groups

You might remember from Chapter 1 that you can edit adjustment layers in the layer stack (as compared with adjustments). Adjustment layers are preferable because they allow you to try things out without having to commit to them. You can change your mind later and alter the parameters of an adjustment layer or throw it away without permanently affecting the pixels of your image.

Normally, adjustment layers affect all the layers below them in the Layers palette. That's fine if you want to increase the brightness of many layers at once, for example. Just add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, and it will affect everything below it in the layer stack.

On the other hand, what if you want the increased flexibility of an adjustment layer, but want to affect only a single layer? Simple—create a clipping group with the adjustment layer and a masked layer. Here's how this works:

1. If you have CompositingProject3.psd open from the previous exercise, you can continue here; if not, open that file from your hard drive before continuing.

2. Select the Masonry layer. Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer by clicking Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer at the bottom of the Layers palette. In the Brightness/Contrast dialog box, drag the Brightness slider to +15, drag the Contrast slider to +30, and click OK.

3. Notice that the Masonry layer looks better, but the Ground and Background layers were affected and look too bright. Hold down the Alt key and position your mouse on the interface between the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and the Masonry layer. Click when you see the clipping group cursor appear. Now the adjustment layer only affects the Masonry layer.

4. Select the Ground layer. Apply a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Drag the Saturation slider to -50 and Lightness to +10. Click OK to close the Hue/Saturation dialog box.

5. Create a clipping group between the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and the Ground layer.

6. Leave the file open for work in the next section.

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