An Intro to Correction Layers





I'll be explaining you guys what Correction Layers are and explaining some of their uses. I'll also be showing some example of where I use them. I use them on all of my drawings, these gives the final image a whole new feel to it and makes everything blend together, especially when I have backgrounds.


It's easy to use, and very convenient as well.


The video is here:

It’s already timestamped, already divided in segments!

My voice will make you cringe, but I really don't know how I'm gonna explain things without talking. I hope this is bearable.

INTRO – Correction Layers

Let’s go to LAYER > New Correction Layer -- that’s Correction Layers, you can see that you’re already familiar with the contents inside of it, so what gives? What’s the difference?


DO NOT confuse Correction Layers with Edit > Tonal Correction --- and the contents are basically the same.


Every adjustments made with Tonal Corrections are not editable! You cannot go back to it. It basically stays on your image. They are permanent edits --- unless you go back to your History and start everything from scratch.


Whilst on Correction Layers, the adjustment becomes a layer. You can go back to it, edit it again and it works the same as layers. Blending mode works on them, same with Opacity and Clip to Layer Below, you can even group them up. If you don’t like the adjustment, just delete that Correction Layer.


You will get two icons when using Correction Layers


• First Icon (Left); Adjustment icon --- this is the adjustment that you chose. To access this, just double click the thumbnail and you can go back to your previous adjustment, yes, it saves your previous adjustments.


• Second Icon (Right); Mask thumbnail --- this is plain white icon, already attached to whatever Correction Layer that you choose. It a regular mask, everything that is white gets affected by the correction. Grab an Eraser and erase the Mask, it removes the correction on that area. If you want it back, just grab any brush, make sure your color is on WHITE and paint it back on.


Always remember, please; ADJUSTMENTS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE DRASTIC. Subtle changes are okay!


Ok? Now, let's go to the different correction layers and I'll show you guys how I use them.

Brightness and Contrast

Our first on the list of corrections, Brightness and Contrast! This is the BASIC of the basics on the tone adjustment tool on this list.


Let’s go to Layer > New Correction Layer > Brightness and Contrast

OR go to the layer itself, on the Layer Tab, RIGHT CLICK > New Correction Layer > Brightness and Contrast.


Pretty self-explanatory.

• Brightness changes the overall brightness of the image.


• Contrasts changes the difference of Light and Dark. Increase the contrast and Light becomes Lighter, Dark area becomes darker. Decrease the contrasts and all the colors dies down turning everything grey.



♦ Left Side is always the DARK area , Right Side is the LIGHT area




I just use these for Basic Tone Adjustments, especially when I made something too strong in color.


You can use Blending Modes, but I never do that here because like I said, I use this for Basic Tone Adjustments. This is just my opinion, if I use Blending Modes on Brightness and Contrast Adjustment, it ruined the purpose of that Adjustment - which is adjusting the brightness and contrast.


Hue / Saturation / Luminosity

Okay! Next is, go to the Layer > New Correction Layer > Hue / Saturation / Luminosity or HSL. This is the Basic tool for Color Adjustment


• Hue – changes the overall color of the image

• Saturation – changes the vibrancy/intensity of colors within the image. Left side removes all color, Right Side makes everything pop and hurts the eye.

• Luminosity – changes the overall brightness and darkness of the color. Like I said before, Left side makes everything DARK, Right side makes everything LIGHT

I use this adjustment for two corrections; one is tone adjustment and second is color changing.




HSL Correction Layer , let’s admit it, the Saturation Slider is quite harsh. It makes everything bright and vibrant.  And so whenever I use this, I mix it with a Blending Mode > Color


Mixing this Correction Layer (if your purpose is increasing the Saturation) with this Blend Mode soften the intensity of color, you can mix it with other Blend Modes as well, sometimes Soft Light and Overlay are my Go-to.





Everyone’s familiar with the Hue Slider, but using it alone is actually pretty flat. Change the colors = you also change the color of the shadows. When doing this kind of adjustment, I also mix it with Blending Mode > Color; this eats up those shadows /dark areas while trying to keep that color that I choose. And then I just CLICK THE MASK ICON > Grab an Eraser > Erase the parts that I don’t need.


And TA-DAH~! It's done! Even if you change the color; Double Click the Adjustment Icon > Move the slider to whatever HUE you prefer, the shadows blends!


This adjustment reduces the colors of your drawings, that’s it!

So, where do I use these?


I rarely use this actually, because this Adjustment gives you a stylize effect of a POSTER, like those vintage posters that only have 3-4 colors on them or an 8-bit image (I’m talking about Bit Per Pixels and NOT Bit Per Channels), which only has 256 colors whilst regular image nowadays are 24-bit images or 16 million colors.


But you can use this if you want to give your drawings a different feel to it, for me, I think this effect would look unique on a webtoon/manhua panels.


I love this adjustment. This works so well for me because I love dull colors.


Let’s pick our image, then go to LAYER > New Correction Layer > Reverse Gradient

and ta-dah! You inverse the colors of your drawing!


I use this as a TONE CORRECTION, believe it or not!


Change the Blending Mode to either Soft Light, Glow Dodge, or Overlay > Lower down the Opacity > and BOOM!


This adjustment helps me balance out the colors, especially whenever I use dark colors and it gives me anime vibes.


Always remember, no matter how colorful your favorite anime is, zoom that in > use an eyedropper on those colors > the colors are dull and not overly saturated. Anime do not use overly saturated colors.



I combined this two together because, THEY ARE QUITE THE SAME.


♦ Let’s go to LEVEL CORRECTION first.

As I said before, everything on the left is the dark side, everything on the right is the light side.


• Input Area | Histogram Area – Left Slider controls the Shadows | Middle Slider controls the Half Tones/Middle Tones | Right Slider controls the Highlights


• Output – Drag the Left Slider to the Right > Everything turns white | Drag the Right Slider to the Left > Everything turns Dark


• The same goes on the RGB Tab > the only difference is that Red Tab controls the Red/Cyan tones, Green Tab controls Green/Magenta tones, and Blue Tab controls the Blue/Yellow tones – but still, your main adjustments are on the Shadows, Highlights and Half tones.


♦ Now let’s go to TONE CURVES


DID YOU KNOW THAT that everything on the left is the dark side, everything on the right is the light side?!


Now let’s look at this histogram right here! We get a curve going across our graph, if we look under that.


INPUT is labeled at the bottom, OUTPUT is labeled at the side.


• That means THAT CURVE represents our Shadows, Half tones and Highlights.

If we make a point and drag it to the Left > That’s our Shadows.

Drag that to the farthest Right > That’s our Highlights.

Drag that to the Center, up or down > That’s our Half Tones / Middle Tones.


• THE END POINTS of the Curve represents the OUTPUT or the overall brightness of the image.

The point at the Upper Right represents BRIGHT > Drag that down > Everything goes dark

The point at the Bottom Left represent DARK > Drag that up > Everything goes white.


• The RGB Menu, also works the same. Red Tab is Red above/Cyan below. Green Tab is Green above/Magenta Below. And Blue Tab Blue above/Yellow below.




The simplest explanation is that, everything that you can do in Level Correction, you can do it on Tone Curves, but there are things in Tone Curves that you cannot do in Level Correction.


♦ Level Correction is Basic Tone Editing. It lets you edit Shadows, Half Tone, Highlights, the OUTPUT sliders, and the RGB menu – and that’s about it. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. This Correction is easy mode and I still use it daily on my drawings, whenever I want simple adjustments, this is the key, no hassle and easy to use.


♦ While on Tone Curves. It lets you edit the Shadows, Half tone and Highlights WHILE adding more points in between those three major tones. Imagine having a Highlight point, then making another point above that but lower, you can’t do that in Level Correction. Same with the RGB tab. This Adjustment is quite complex but it gives fantastic results when you master it.


The only advice I can give when you use Tone Curves, do not hesitate to make lots of points, if you do not like the point that you made, Click the point and DRAG it outside the histogram, then just continue.



This Adjustment is like the more detailed version of Hue/Saturation/Luminosity (HSL)


Let’s go to Layer > New Correction Layer > Color Balance

Let’s ignore “Keep Brightness” option for now, I will explain this later


Upon opening, you will see the 3 primary colors on the left: Red, Green and Blue; and on the opposite of that is Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow.

Always remember, the opposite of RGB is CMYK.


Under the Gradient Balance is the Shadow tab; works with the dark areas, Half Tone Tab; works with the middle tones, and Highlights tab; works with the lightest area – but still focuses on the adjustment of those colors above.


Remember the previous topic?



Under Tone Curves RGB Menu; For example on RED,

• Make a point at the middle > Drag it up > That’s your Half Tones

• Drag the point to the upper right > That’s your Shadows

• Drag that point to the upper left > That’s your Highlights


If you Drag those points down, that’s the opposite of those colors.


So is the difference under the “Keep Brightness” option? That’s a yes and no.


YES, because – once activating KEEP BRIGHTNESS option on Color Balance, this retain the previous luminosity/brightness of your image, while still adjusting whatever the tone you choose.


And NO, because – you can actually do this at Tone Curves too. Just Change the Blending Mode > Color, and you get the same effect.


So what’s the point of having Color balance if you can do the same with Tone curves?


♦ This is just my opinion, but I really like the idea of having my own COLOR ADJUSTMENT (Color Balance). If you use Tone Curves as your Color Balance – then you have to change the Blend Mode to Colors just so you can get the “Keep Brightness” effect – that would be confusing if you also have a separate Tone Curves for tones. I think it’s more organize to have a separate Color adjustment tool rather than doing it on Tone Curves – having a separate one gives you more freedom to tweak it, change the blend modes, opacity, etc. without the fear of maybe ruining the other areas.


♦ But, I will not deny that TONE CURVES is a far more superior and complex adjustment tool

The example above is a small filter-like adjustment.


Dragging the sliders to the Reds and Yellows --- Warm Tones

Dragging the sliders to Cyan and Blue --- Cold Tones


Works respectively with Half Tone; if my image is light; Highlight if my image is dark


Okay! Let’s go to Layer > New Correction Layer > Binarization


From the word itself, BINARY or 2; this adjustment turns any multi-tone image into a two-color image.

Regardless of the colors, this turns the dark areas BLACK, and the light areas WHITE.


When using it, you will get a threshold slider. Sliding it down to the farthest left > The amount of Black dies down. Sliding it up to the farthest right > The amount of Black increases to the point that everything turns dark.


So, where do I use this?


I use this when I want to sharpen the details of my drawings.


I just pick an image > go to Layer > New Correction Layer > Binarization > change the Threshold to the amount I see fit > Change the Blending Mode to Multiply > Lower down the Opacity to match the other shadows > Maybe grab an Eraser and erase the parts I don’t need (Make sure you’re on the MASK icon)




It’s a simple effect, I call it my Shadow Support! This doesn’t change any colors, rather this helps me with my shadows, which is deeply needed when I do detailed drawings.


This is the Last one! Go to Layer > New Correction Layer > Gradient Map.

Upon opening, you will see the Gradation Map above center, the Gradient Sets at the left side and the Gradient Options at the right side.


Let’s go one by one:


• Gradation Map (above): This is the gradient that you choose.

Again, the left side is the DARK side; right side is the LIGHT side.

The last color at the farthest Left is your SHADOW. The color at the farthest Right is your HIGHLIGHTS, the colors at the middle are your HALF TONES/ MIDDLE TONES.

--- Reverse the gradient and you reverse the colors.



♦ Let’s go as a TONE FILTER!



*NOTE: You have to make sure first that your Background and Character are separated.

** I will include the .clip file of this adjustment at the end of the article


1. I make a new Layer > New Correction Layer > Gradient Map – before anything else, Click OK.

2. Make sure that the Correction Layer (Gradient Map) is Clipped/Clip to Layer Below on the Character


3. Go back to the Correction Layer. Double Click that Adjustment Icon to access back the Gradient Map.

4. Change the colors that’s the same as your BG.

--------- One the Gradation Map, using an eyedropper tool, change the farthest LEFT slider to the darkest color of the BG.

--------- For the Middle Tones, depending on how many sliders you will have/make, change that to the second darkest color > going bright (but not too bright)

--------- Because for our Highlight, the farthest RIGHT slider, change that to the same color as the lightest color on the background BUT make it even more lighter.

5. When you’re done, click OK > Change the Blending Mode > Multipy > Lower down the Opacity (usually 33-55% works well for me)

6. Then just make a new layer for your Highlights. CTRL + Shift + N > Grab any brush > Pick the lightest color on your Background BUT make it lighter > then just brush on the edges of your character > Change the Blend Mode > Add (Glow)


7. And then you’re done! If you’re unsatisfied, just go back to the Correction Layer. Double Click the Adjustment Icon > and usually changing the shadow tones to a much darker hue, fixes things for me!

Overview + .clip file

----------------------------.clip file is here:

• Gradient Map - Background Blending

----------------------------My deviantART is here:

I 'try' to make commissions every month and draw some fan arts!

You can see most of my works with Reverse Gradient and Gradient Maps! u)/


Thanks for reading!



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