layer structure and hue

I am trying to make a multi-layer stencil effect in PS CS6.

How I got here: 1. Made several copies of original image 2. Image> Adjustments> Threshold, for each one at different levels. 3. Select > Colour Range > Highlights + delete. Gets rid of the white, leaving just the blackness of the threshold effect. 4. Make adjustment layer for to change the Hue/Saturation. Giving me different grays.

However, Ideally I would like to be able to change threshold levels, as a live effect, so I can see how the layers stack. Cannot quite figure out whether this is possible or not.

Once I remove the white, there's no turning back.

Any ideas how I could use the threshold effect with on a transparent background?

I appreciate your time!

TL;DR: How could I use the threshold function as black/transparent not black/white.

2 Answers 2


You can use Threshold adjustment layers they same way you've used Hue/Saturation adjustment layers rather than applying threshold directly to layers.

  • Yes, indeed, I am aware of this, but still doesnt allow me to play with the thresholds while staking layers. Thank you for your time.
    – Tudor
    Feb 11, 2018 at 20:03
  • Then I don't understand what you are asking. Adjustment layers allow for non-destructive editing at any time. No clue what "play with threshold while stacking layers" means.
    – Scott
    Feb 11, 2018 at 20:07

So the solution is the following:

Basically for each layer of the stencil, I first convert layer to Smart Object, and then:

  1. I add the Threshold Adjustment Layer - making sure the "Clip to Layer" icon is checked. This can be changed, since it's a live adjustment.

  2. I double-click the layer: Layer style > Blending options >Blend if > Adjusting the grey slider until the white of the Threshold effect disappears, leaving only the black. (holding ALT while clicking the slider, allows a range to be set, this allowing a threshold level range to be chosen)

  3. Then I add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to change the black it into any grey/colour I want.

THANKS "AwwwSnack"!

Visual description of the solution - Each stencil layer has its own group

  • This also works without converting to a Live Layer (at least on CC). Just clip the adjustment layer to your copy of the image layer and set blending options of that image layer as you indicated.
    – Pássaro
    Feb 16, 2018 at 11:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.