Using the Adjustment Layers in Paint Shop Pro X2

Michael Bates tells us all about the Adjustment Layers that can be used to alter an image without actually changing the colour information of the original image.

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Sheffield Town HallPaint Shop Pro X2 includes a set of tools called Adjustment Layers that can be used to alter an image without actually changing the colour information of the original image. This means that when you are altering, for example, the contrast of an image you can do so with more options open to you than usual. Where normally the change often results in the loss of detail and is difficult to undo if you decide you don't like the effect later on, with this method you can just delete the Adjustment Layer and your image will still have all its original detail and the effects will be fully reversedAdjustment Layers option in Paint Shop Pro X2.

Step 1. Open your image in Paint Shop Pro X2 and right-click the background layer. This will open a menu where you need to highlight New Adjustment Layer, and when you do this a set of options will appear. The names of these options are the same as other tools already present in the Adjustment and Effects menus; the only difference is the way that they will be applied to your image.

Step 2. Select one of the available adjustment layers; I'm going to use the Invert option but it Selecting adjustment layers in Paint Shop Pro X2doesn't matter what you choose. You will be presented with a new window the same as you would be when creating a new layer, however the before and after previews will show your effect applied. You can also name the layer, set its opacity (though this can be done later) and the layer's mode. If the effect you selected is one that requires the settings to be changed you can open the ‘Adjustment' tab on this screen to open the controls to do this, and the Overlay setting allows you to add a solid colour overlay to the image if you wish.

Step 3. You can leave the settings at default since it names the layer after the effect you selected automatically, whatever you choose to do you can select OK to apply the effect and you will see the Adjustment Layer appear in the layers pane on the right. Everything below this layer is being affected by the Adjustment Layer, so if you move a layer above it then this will appear unedited, and just like a normal layer you can use the opacity and layer mode controls on it just like a normal layer if you wish to alter the appearance of the layer.Layers box in Paint Shop Pro X2

Step 4. You probably will have noticed that the thumbnail for the Invert layer (or whatever adjustment layer you have selected) will be fully white. This is where one of the more interesting facets of the adjustment layer becomes apparent; you can paint the layer just like a Mask layer to create transparent and opaque areas. Take the Brush tool (press the ‘B' key) and paint an area of the Adjustment layer black to create a transparency, and you can make this area opaque again by painting it white, which can be done easily by right-clicking if your colours are still set to default.

Step 5. You can also layer the effects on top of each other in order to create more elaborate effects; here I have applied a Posterize layer and removed the building from the affected area by painting it black in this layer.

Layer effects for elaborate effectsPicture with the opacity reduced in Paint Shop Pro X2

Step 6. You can also reduce the opacity of a layer that you placed above another to allow the other to show through better and apply numerous effects to a layer. You can also do this selectively by painting areas with shades of grey; the lighter shades will create a more opaque area whilst darker shades will be more transparent. Here I have painted the sky so that the Posterize layer is almost clear here and the original clouds can show through the posterized version.

Brightness/Contrast AdjustmentStep 7. Finally I have added a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer with a high contrast setting in between the Inversion and Posterization layers. This has created a very interesting appearance for the image with a lot of blown out white areas.

Step 8. Now I'm not sure whether I like this effect, so I'm going to tweak it slightly. However you don't have to delete the layer and create a new one; just double-click the layer and open the Adjustment tab of the window that opens to have the options available once again for you to change. I've reduced the brightness so that the contrast is even starker, and once again I have cleared an area over the part of the building I didn't invert.Adjustment Layers in Paint Shop Pro X2

Step 9. If you want to remove an Adjustment Layer you can right-click it and select ‘Delete' just as you would with a normal layer. I deleted the Posterize layer here, and remember that if you do want to return a layer to your image after you deleted it you can just press Control and Z to undo the last few steps that you took in editing your image, including the deletion of any layers and if you go too many steps back you just hold the Alt key whilst you press the ‘Undo' combination to redo. Here you can see the difference this made, which was subtle since the layer was not fully opaque but is still noticeable.Adjusting Layers in Paint Shop Pro X2

Step 10. Finally, I changed the layer mode for the Invert Adjustment Layer to Hard Light, but you may want to choose a different one. Experiment with the varying layer modes and layering orders that can be created with the Adjustment Layers and see what you can come up with.

Adjustment Layers in Paint Shop Pro X2

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