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Layer Adjustments

Use layers for all adjustments. The Adjustment layer has no pixels and this overlays what is behind it.

Extracting an Object

Moving Clouds


Change Background


Color to Black and White

Making Borders

Curve Adjustment Layer

  1. Open up a photo.
  2. From the menu on the top click on (window) and then check (layers). This will bring up a layers menu on the lower right of your screen.
  3. Go to the bottom of the layers menu and click on the half black and half white circle. This will bring up the adjustment layer and choose curves.
  4. Select preset (none); channel (RGB); and check (show clipping). Click on the curve display options and check everything except pigment/ink%.
  5. Click the white triangle at the bottom of the histogram and move it left until colored dots appear on your photo. Move it right to the point where there are no more dots. Now move the black triangle to the right until dots appear and then move it back until there are no more dots.
  6. Now uncheck the show clipping box . Move your cursor over the image which will become an eyedropper and control/command click on an area you want darker. A point will appear on the histogram. You can move this point on the histogram by putting the cursor over the square on the diagonal line which will change the cursor to a 4 pointed arrow. To darken the image hold down the left mouse button and move the cursor to the right. To lighten move the cursor upwards .
  7. Click OK and you are done. You can vary the effect by moving the opacity or fill sliders at the top of the layers box. Since you made an adjustment layer by clicking on it sometime in the future you can change the adjustments by double clicking on the half black and half white circle in the adjustment layer or an icon that has a grid with a curvy line in it.

    Curves to modify color

  8. Do steps 1 - 4 above, but at the top select the color you want in the channel dropdown menu.
  9. In the curve the bottom left is dark shadows, upper right is highlight and the middle of the curve are the midtones. Go to the middle of the curve and left click and hold while moving the line up or down. Down will reduce the amount of color by adding in it's opposite.
  10. You can add more points on the diagonal line by left clicking along it to modify dark, midtone and light areas separately.

Extracting an Object

  1. Duplicate the background layer by going to the top toolbar and clicking on (layer)(duplicate layer).
  2. Choose (filter)(extract) and then select the tool options of brush size, highlight and fill. Smart highlighting works with a well defined edge using a small brush size. Use the eraser tool to get rid of some highlighting.
  3. Use the paint bucket to fill the the rest of the area with color.
  4. Do not use preview. Just click okay.
  5. You can use the quick selection and eraser tools on the new layer that was just made to take care of any extras from the background.

Moving Clouds to a landscape photo

  1. Go to the upper menu: (windows)(layers) and check the layers term. This opens a box probably at the lower right of your screen where you can select the layer to work on and change it's opacity if needed. Going to the upper menu you can select (layers) and down the list change their order.

  2. Open the landscape photo and make a copy of the background layer.

  3. Put the original background layer in the trashcan at the bottom of the LAYERS BOX.

  4. Select the sky region (you may hold down the shift key to select more areas when using the magic wand) and then go to edit and cut.

  5. Open the Clouds photo

  6. Get the move tool at the top of the side toolbar.

  7. Using the move tool left click on the clouds and move it over the landscape photo and release the left button. Check to make sure it covers the entire photo.

  8. Go to Layers in the top menu and scroll down to (arrange) and select (send to back)

  9. Use the eraser with the opacity and flow at 100% in the top toolbox to get more of the new background after using the LAYERS BOX and selecting the opacity wanted so you can see both layers.

  10. Push the opacity in the LAYERS BOX back to 100%


Working with layers allowed me the ability to have the buffalo's face normal and the rest of the photo extruded. In that case I kept the background layer and made a copy of it. The copy layer was extruded by (filter) (stylize) (extrude) and then it's opacity was reduced to 25% so I could see the background at the same time. Using the eraser tool the copy layer was erased so the face of the buffalo came through. The opacity was raised to 100% and then the layers were flattened by going to (layer)(flatten image).

Change the Background

To make the background black. Keep the background layer and make a copy of it. Work on the copy layer. If you have a mixed background pick the Quick Selection or Magic Wand tool and highlight the object of interest--here a flower. Then in the top toolbar go to (select) (inverse) to have the marching ants around the outside of the photo and including everything except the flower. From the left tool toolbar at the bottom, click on the big square that is on top called foreground and change the color to black. Now go up the same toolbar and pick the paint bucket and pour the color into the area between the marching ants. At the top toolbar use (select)(deselect) or go back to the Quick Selection or Magic Wand tool and when it is over the black area you will see a rectangle and left click your mouse.


you can work on the background layer and go to (layer)(new adjustment layer)(brightness/contrast). Keep the mode as normal. Move the brightness slider all the way left and the contrast slider all the way right. The area is now darkened. From the left tool toolbar at the bottom, click on the big square that is on top called foreground and change the color to white. Change the background to black . You can reveal areas with the eraser tool and use the white color to remove the extra black from the


  1. duplicate the layer.
  2. mask -- from the left toolbar; near the bottom click on the gray box with a white circle.
  3. brush or paint white reveals or lightens and black darkens, but paints red. For a weaker change reduce the opacity or flow on the top toolbar below 100%.
  4. exit mask by clicking on the gray box with a white circle again.
  5. you now have marching ants showing the selected area.
  6. you can make adjustments in the selected area.
  7. when done go to the top toolbar (select)(deselect)
note: you can use the gradient tool after making the mask

Color to Black and White

To convert to Black and White make a duplicate layer and use (Image)(Adjustments)(Black and White). Move the cursor onto the photograph and click a location. The eyedropper changes to a hand with arrows. Move the hand left or right to darken or lighten that particular color. You can use the sliders in the box on the right if you know the color in the photo.


Interesting borders - numbers are variable

Make canvas size 0.2 inches

Magic wand with a tolerance of 10, contiguous, and click inside the 0.2 inches

Paint bucket to drop the color you want in the 0.2 inches (dark green) -- You can use any color you want.

(select) (modify) (border) from the top menu bar.

Paint bucket to drop the next color you want in the 0.2 inches (example: black)

Deselect using the magic wand again


Use the paint brush with the color you want, hold down the left mouse button in the first corner and then the shift key. Keep the shift key down the whole time.

Next, release the mouse button and go to the next corner and left click. Repeat for the remaining corners.

Release the shift key

************ you can stop here or continue *********************************

Do it again with a different color

Use the magic wand and select one of the colors

Hold down the shift key and select the other color

Get the blur tool, make it larger than the selected areas and run it back and forth over the selected areas. To tone the color down select the paintbrush with a black color and set the opacity to a low number like 20.

Deselect using the magic wand again

modified January 2010 by Donn

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