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I am looking to apply an adjustment layer to just three layers like so:

-  IMAGE_1
-  IMAGE_2
-  IMAGE_3
-  BG

All I can manage is to apply ADJ_LAYER_1 to either only LAYER_1 or ALL layers below.

I have tried ALT clicking on the layer-dividers but that creates clipping masks between for example IMAGE_1 AND IMAGE_2 and screws things up.

So, is it possible to clip an adjustment layer to SOME layers?

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migrated from Mar 13 '12 at 21:23

This question came from our site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers.

Good question. I quickly found layers powerful but not as flexible as they could be. – Paolo Mar 13 '12 at 16:45
Per this meta discussion(…) this should probably be migrated to the graphic design SE site. – dpollitt Mar 13 '12 at 16:54
This seems to relate to Ps as used for photography though, which would make it valid. – ElendilTheTall Mar 13 '12 at 17:45
possible duplicate of Is there a way to make Adjustment Layers ignore certain layers? – Jack Mar 14 '12 at 4:55
  • Put the top three layers in a layer group
  • Add your adjustment layer above the group
  • Alt-click to set the adustment layer as a clipping mask
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You can definitely do what you're after using Clipping Groups. You'll need to ensure the bottom layer is large enough to cover the area required for all the layers above it, because that's what will be used to mask all the layers.

enter image description here

Another option is to create Groups, with a bitmap or vector masks that clips all the layers within the group. This will also keep any adjustment layers to the layers in the group.

enter image description here

Or, as others have suggested, you could just create a mask for the adjustment layer itself. It really depends where you need the flexibility. I don't believe you can limit the adjustment layer's effect to a group without a mask of some kind.

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This is an old question, but since I don't see the right answer in the comments, I thought I'd post it here. It's coming from this related question:

Is there a way to make Adjustment Layers ignore certain layers?

Using Photoshop CS5 (not sure about older versions), you put the folders you want to apply the adjustment to in one group, set the group mode to "Normal", and put the adjustment layer on top of all the layers in the group.

In the screenshot below, the color balance layer is only applied to layers 2 and 3, inside Group 1.

Screenshot of layer arrangement in Photoshop

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If the IMAGE layers have transparency, i.e. you have erased or masked part of them, you can affect only those layers by Ctrl+Shift clicking their layer icons to select their transparency, then making your adjustment layer. This will automatically mask the adjustment layer to only affect those selected.

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