In the last tip, you learned how to correct color with non-destructive adjustment layers. We talked about warming up portraits and adjusting color tints. There are times, however, when you want to keep the original color in just a portion of the photo while adjusting the rest. For example, when warming a portrait, you’ll get great skin tone, but may yellow the teeth and eyes. Or when adjusting a landscape, you may muddy the sky. Here’s how to work around these issues by removing a portion of the adjustment layer.
Begin by recreating the steps in the Correcting Color Tints with a Photo Filter Adjustment in Photoshop and PSE tip.
In the Layers panel, you’ll have an adjustment layer over a photo.
Click on the white layer mask thumbnail in the Layers Panel.
Next, get the Brush tool. Choose a soft, round brush from the brush picker in the Options bar. (The Options bar will be at either the top or the bottom of the editing window, depending on your software.)
Change the foreground color to black by pressing the letter D and then X on your keyboard.
Click and drag the brush over the section of the photo you do not want altered by the adjustment layer. Everywhere you brush with black essentially hides the adjustment, allowing the original photo to show through.
For more precision, you can make a selection using one of the selection tools before brushing the mask with black. When you brush, the black will stay within the selection you’ve made. Press Ctrl D (Mac: Cmd D) to remove the selection when your brushwork is complete.
If you make a mistake and hide a portion that you didn’t mean to hide, just change the foreground color to white by pressing X on your keyboard. Select the layer mask thumbnail and brush with the white color.
This is a concept I had trouble wrapping my head around when I first started working in Photoshop. Just remember that when it comes to the adjustment layer mask, black hides the mask and white allows the mask to make the adjustment.
This is nondestructive adjustment at its best – just using white or black brushwork on the mask hides or shows the photo beneath.