brighten a layer Adjustment in Photoshop tutorial

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By Andrew Buckle, Updated : 2021

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How to brighten / lighten a layer in Photoshop tutorial using adjustments as well as use masks and selections to modify the brighten layer

1. Where

There is no command to do this, you need to add an adjustment to your image or layer and that is done via the new adjustment layer command found in the layer menu or to the entire image via the image menu and adjustments

2. Layers

Firstly, go to the Photoshop layers menu to select layer to be brightened, you can find the layers panel via the window command and layers. Go to the Layer menu and new adjustment layer category and then select Levels. Add name for the 'levels' layer and click OK and then go to the properties panel (levels settings) and select the "lighter" preset to brighten the layer in Photoshop. Go to the first slider bar / histogram on the right side and select the slider and move to the left to brighten the layer

3. Remove the adjustment to brighten layer

To remove the brighten layer 'levels' adjustment, go to the layers panel and select the levels adjustment layer and click delete layer button.

4. To brighten only part of the layer in Photoshop using masks

The adjustment layer comes with a mask, if you go to the layers panel and the levels entry, you will see the first box but there is a second box which can be modified. Select the mask (second box) and then select the gradient tool or the shape tool or rectangle etc (use in pixel mode) and then set the color for the tool such as black and then apply across the layer and you will see the result in the thumbnail as well as the layer will either brighten or darken depending on the extent of the mask.

5. Use selections to brighten only part of the layer

You can also add a levels adjustment layer to an image and only apply it to part of the image by using a selection. Go to the Photoshop toolbar and then select the rectangular marquee tool and create a selection across your layer and then go to the layer menu and add a new adjustment layer 'levels'. and the brighten effect will only be applied to the selected area. You can remove the selection via the select menu and deselect. The levels 'brighten' layer will be smaller than the original layer and you can select it and move it and re-size it using the bounding box of the adjustment layer and you will see more or less of the layer brightened.

6. Create a Photoshop action to brighten a layer

All the above can be captured in an action, go to the window menu and select the actions and then click the recording button on the panel to capture the creation of the adjustment layer (select the image layer before recording) as well as the setting and then you can set the actions to button mode to playback.