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As it is, I can't get my adjustment layer to apply to the layers I want because when I get them to clip for one layer, they stop working (they no longer change anything for any layer). If I hide the background layer, they stop working. This has been incredibly frustrating. I recently set my backgrounds layers as gray in my document presets for figuring out colours and I have a hunch that might have something to do with it.

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    I have no idea what you are asking. Adjustment layers work with or without a background layer, provided there are actual pixels to adjust somewhere. If you are expecting adjustment layers to work on transparent areas, they won't. There's nothing in transparency to "adjust". – Scott Apr 25 '18 at 3:14
  • I can't replicate the problem either. Perhaps provide some screenshots to show what is wrong, and what you are trying to achieve. – Billy Kerr Apr 25 '18 at 9:08
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    imgur.com/a/AOnnbOU Here's three screen shots to show you what I mean. – Quesselkrass Apr 25 '18 at 13:38
  • Your Adjustment Layer is not clipped in the first and third image. It is only clipped in the one image which is reported to be working "as expected". Which is, well, as expected :) – Scott Apr 25 '18 at 17:22
  • In the second image, it is clipped to layer 2 and the curves do nothing to the layer, the strokes do not tint red, they stay grey, while in the third image it should still turn everything visible red, should it not (as I remember it used to) – Quesselkrass Apr 25 '18 at 19:22
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It appears to have something to do with layer opacity. If opacity is too low the adjustment doesn't seem to alter anything. In other words, it seems if there isn't enough of a histogram to read, there's not enough histogram to apply an adjustment to. At least that's how it appears to me.

Low opacity layer....

enter image description here

Same adjustment, higher opacity layer (all I did was toggle layer visibility):

enter image description here

Side by side under the same adjustment layer:

enter image description here

The only difference is I boosted how opaque one layer was (via copies and merging).

enter image description here

And clipping works as expected with the higher opacity layer:

enter image description here

Note this low opacity seems to limit several adjustment layer types, not merely the curves.

I, personally, would use a Color Overlay Layer Style rather than an adjustment layer here, but that's merely my preference - and I realize your posted images may not be the actual files you are working with. The Layer Style doesn't appear to suffer from this limitation at all.

  • So I was just working on another project where I instead opened an image, making it the background. That, actually seemed to do it and adjustments worked as normal. I've yet to try it on a non neutral toned background (white), since I'd been doing a little research of my own and it seems like adjustment layers factor the background colour into their calculations and things get weird if the background is set to gray by default. Anyway, I'll try to change around my document presets and take your advice on using an overlay layer instead in the meantime. Thanks for all your help Scott. – Quesselkrass Apr 26 '18 at 0:04
  • I was using the same brush, low opacity strokes, a different background, and it worked. I'm now using a color overlay fx for the prior document, it definitely saves a lot of the fuss, again, thanks for the advice Scott. – Quesselkrass Apr 26 '18 at 0:32

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