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Problems With Clipping an Adjustment Layer


Rich54

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I have a mystery where my adjustment layers work fine if they are unclipped, but as soon as I try to clip them to my base layer they stop working. I’m not sure why this would be.

I downloaded some hair brushes that work great if the hair color is very dark, but they do a poor job for blond or light hair. To get around this, I’ve been practicing converting dark hair to blonde.

On the left is my starting image of black hair (on its own layer). On the right is my conversion to blonde. I’m happy enough with the blonde color, but as soon as I try to clip the adjustment layers to the hair, the blonde color disappears. Photoshop file attached.

Any thoughts?
Rich

1637631482449.png
 

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IamSam

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Very interesting!

It has something to do with the transparent pixels. Not clipped, with White BG layer deactivated.
Screen Shot 2021-11-22 at 10.57.10 PM.png

In my experiment, I had semi-transparent leaf layer (top) and a solid leaf layer (below) created with the Brush Tool. All in black.
Screen Shot 2021-11-22 at 11.01.16 PM.png

When I added two non clipped adjustment layers, H&S and Levels.
Screen Shot 2021-11-22 at 11.01.35 PM.png

Then clipped. The black leaves layer lost their coloration.
Screen Shot 2021-11-22 at 11.01.56 PM.png

With the White BG layer turned off.
Screen Shot 2021-11-22 at 11.17.41 PM.png

With the solid leaf layer, the outcome was exact whether or not the adjustment layers were clipped.
Screen Shot 2021-11-22 at 11.13.29 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-11-22 at 11.15.53 PM.png

It has something to do with the transparency of the layer.
 

Rich54

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It has something to do with the transparency of the layer.
Yes, that seems to be it. That's too bad, because I was hoping to be able to make perfect hair, in any color, and then import it into any image.

I just tried making a selection of the hair layer, and then using that selection to do Copy Merged/Paste onto a new layer. But when I do that, the selection has a lot of fringes and noise, not pristine like the hair brushes themselves. Oh, well...
 

puraidodes

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@Rich54 Interesting problem. I have never encountered this.
I had the same effect as yours from your file.
But one thing is that when I use a solid fill or solid color adjustment layer instead of any of the color/Tonal adjustment layers they tend to work fine. The clipping works is as intended with the hair.
I also tried to clip with just black, white, and gray solid colors and with less transparency to see if clipping works. It does work as intended.

So, as @IamSam mentioned it has got something to do with transparency.
Here is a small thread that talks about it with a similar problem.


And explained here-
 

Rich54

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@Rich54
But one thing is that when I use a solid fill or solid color adjustment layer instead of any of the color/Tonal adjustment layers they tend to work fine. The clipping works is as intended with the hair.
Yes, the clipping works for me if I use a solid color adjustment layer. I'll have to play with it more tomorrow. I'm not sure that a solid color adjustment layer does anything different than if I just choose a given color and then paint directly with the hair brush.

There seems to be so much transparency in the hair brush that the background becomes very important. All the highlights in the hair are actually coming from the background.
 

thebestcpu

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Hi Rich54
I can explain why the Layers when Clipped do not work.
When considering just the transparency and/or Layer Masks, when Layers are clipped above the base Layer, what it is basically telling Photoshop to do is to ignore the transparency and Layer Mask, apply the adjustment Layers to the base Layer, and then after the fact, apply the transparency and Layer Mask. So with clipping masks, all layers below the Base Layer are ignored when the Adjustment Layers are Applied. It treats the base Layer of the clipping mask as solid pixels (no transparency and no Layer Mask)

This becomes more obvious what is going on when you pull the Transparency out to a Layer Mask as shown in the image below (no clipping masks). Note that the underlying pixels can be surprising yet has to do with how you created the Layer originally (e.g. in the thumbnails of the Layers Panel)

Screen Shot 2021-11-23 at 9.43.50 AM.jpg

The above Layer Stack shows the pixels that will be used with the adjustment Layers above. To simulate what happens with a Clipping Mask, I just turn off (disable) the Layer Mask so the base Layer is operated on as solid pixels:

Screen Shot 2021-11-23 at 9.59.57 AM.jpg

With the image pixels being just pure black or white, with the settings of your Adjustment Layers, it has no impact whatsoever (nature of those adjustment Layers and settings with Black or White pixels).

After the adjustment Layers are applied to the Black and White pixels, then the transparency is applied. I simulate this by turning off visibility of the adjustment Layers and re-enabling the Layer Mask:

Screen Shot 2021-11-23 at 10.03.36 AM.jpg

Just to point out that this is identical to what happens with Clipped Adjustment Layers, I will Clip the Adjustment Layers to the Base Layer and you get the same result:

Screen Shot 2021-11-23 at 10.06.06 AM.jpg

So the bottom line, Photoshop is doing exactly what it was told to do with Clipped Adjustment Layers: Apply the adjustments to the Base Layer while ignoring its transpareancy and/or Layer Mask (leaving just black and whtie pixels), and then apply the transparency and/or Layer Mask afterwards.

I think others have shown how to get around this problem yet thought this might help understand the root cause of the problem
Hope this was useful
John Wheeler
 

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