Photoshop Soft Light Layer Video Tutorial

[singlepic=257,90,90,web20,left]Welcome to another Photoshop™ video tutorial.

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to adjust the contrast and saturation of an image using the Soft Light Layer mode. This is a quick and easy alternative from using our traditional Levels or Curves adjustments. I’ll show you how it can be applied to a nature landscape photo or a portrait studio photo.

I encourage you to share your alternative methods for adjusting image contrast or saturation by posting in the comments.

[vimeo 1411985]
[youtube Fv_mfLhlbzU]

18 responses on "Photoshop Soft Light Layer Video Tutorial"

  1. Great tip, Geoff! Maintaining a reasonable file size is highly desirable!!

    Anyone know a way to create a similar effect in Lightroom?

  2. Thanks Yanik for all your tutorials, they are really great. As I am starting to upload to micro stock sites. My big big request would be for some tutorial on how to get micro stock quality photos. I think that many adjustments create artifacts and quality loss on some levels. So I would be very happy to learn specific technics how to get the best possible quality for micro stock images. Thanks very much in advance.

  3. I am learning a lot from your tutorials! I’ve had CS3 for months, but I am feeling a bit intimidated by it and keep finding myself going back to psp. Your tutorials are so much easier to understand that others I’ve found. Thank you!

  4. great tutorial, this is easier than using levels or curves.


  5. Nice technique, although the duplicate layer doubles the file size. The way I would do this, is rather than duplicating the layer, simply add an adjustment layer (curves, levels, hue/saturation, etc.). It doesn’t matter which adjustment layer; just click okay to add it at its default settings (the image should not change). Now, change that adjustment layer to Soft Light. Same effect as if you had duplicated the layer, but the file size is virtually the same as the original.

  6. Ah a duplicate layer! I really should listen.. thought it was a new layer for some reason 😛

  7. Jamie

    No curves adjustment layer here. This is just a duplicate layer with the mode changed to Soft Light.

  8. Hi Yanik me AGAIN. So just to clarify.. is the layer actually a curves adjustment layer with a soft light blending mode and no actual curve adjustment? 🙂

  9. To blagov & Kathy

    I’m glad you’re finding my tuts simple to follow. It’s always a challenge to keep things simple with Photoshop. 😉

  10. Thanks for the tutorial. I am just learning Photoshop by the trial and undo method, but sometimes forget where or how I did things! I look forward to checking more of your clear and informative tutorials. Have to agree with blagov58. I love learning new things and you do make it simple. Now off to check a couple of photos I have that I hope will be perfect after this tut.

    Thanks again.

  11. Thanks – it’s always great learn something new, but twice nice when actual technique can make things more simple!

  12. Hey Yanik,

    Well I totally get the difference in the result 😉

    My question was how the technique differs.. is it just the 50% gray fill turns it from a curves into a D&B adjustment? Seems crazy to me that you don’t have to change any other settings.

  13. Jamie

    Good question. This is not like D&B. This is more like Levels or Curves. D&B darkens or lightens parts of an image. This technique increases contrast and saturation on the whole image. You could sport edit after by using the eraser on the soft light layer.

  14. Another great video tip!

    But what’s the difference between this and the soft light dodge/burn method? Just the 50% gray fill?


  15. Thank you so much, Yanik. I never knew what the point of Soft Light Blending mode was. And I can see how your extra advice about what to do when using it with skin tones that are red to begin with will make this even more versatile. (And, once again, you explained everything very clearly and at a great pace.)

  16. Thank you Yanik. It’s a blending more I never really used before but I’ll certainely look into it. Your photo from the Parc des Hautes Gorges is awesome. I think I actually saw it in a Charlevoix add at the beginning of the summer. That sure is a great outdoor place. Too long since I’ve been there.

  17. Great tutorial! I can’t wait to play with the soft light layer!!! 🙂

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