Take another look at the New Layer dialog box in Figure 8-20. Note the handy little Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask check box. When you mark that check box to select the option, your new adjustment layer is clipped — restricted to the one layer immediately below it in the Layers palette. (That's the layer that is active when you add the adjustment layer.) Press and hold the Option/Alt key before selecting an adjustment from the bottom of the Layers palette to see this dialog box. And, not to worry — after adding an adjustment layer, you can clip it to the layer below by Option-clicking/Alt-clicking the line between the two layers in the Layers palette (which is also how you unclip a pair of layers). Figure 8-21 shows the difference between a clipped adjustment layer (left) and an unclipped adjustment layer (right). When unclipped, the adjustment is applied to all the layers below rather than to the one layer immediately below.
On the left side of Figure 8-21, the Hue/Saturation adjustment is applied only to the upper layer — the layer named Symbol. On the right, the adjustment layer isn't clipped, and so it changes both the Symbol layer and the Background layer. By the way, the thumbnail in the Layers palette shows the Symbol layer's original copper color prior to the addition of the Hue/ Saturation adjustment layer. Among the beauties of using adjustment layers is the joy you might feel when the client says, "Yup, you were right — let's go back to the original design."
In the Layers palette on the left in Figure 8-21, you can see the wedding rings icon between the adjustment layer and the layer Symbol immediately below. That's the icon that you see when Option-clicking/Alt-clicking to clip (or unclip) layers.
But what if you want an adjustment layer to change, say, three of the layers in your image? Create a layer group from the layers (click the New Group button at the bottom of the Layers palette, and drag the layers into the Group icon in the palette), add the adjustment layer within the group, and change the layer group's blending mode from Pass Through to Normal at the top of the Layers palette. The adjustment layer, within the layer group and at the top of the layer group, is applied to all your layers in the group and only the layers in that group.
Because they're layers, you can use a layer mask to apply the adjustment layer to only part of your layer. You'll find it easier to make a selection of the area where you want the adjustment before selecting the adjustment layer — the mask will be automatically created from the selection.
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