Adjustment Layers are a powerful way to “build up” your images. They allow you to add filters–or stack several filters together–to apply corrections or enhancements. Changing blending modes, adding a layer mask and adjusting the overall opacity (revealing or hiding the layer below) will give you the freedom to experiment until you achieve exactly the look you’d like for your image.


Creating Your First Adjustment Layer

Luminar creates a base layer when an image is first opened. Think of this as the background layer. To create a new Adjustment  Layer, click on the + button in the Layers Toolbar header.  A small pop-up menu will appear giving two options to create a layer–New Adjustment or New Image Layer. Use an Adjustment Layer to create a layer to which you can apply a preset or any other adjustment in the filters section. The Add Image option will show a standard Open File dialog, allowing you to create a new layer with a texture file or another image that you’ve chosen. In this example, I selected the New Adjustment Layer and applied a skin softening technique using the Structure Filter.
What is a Layer Mask

A mask lets you paint with a brush to control where a filter’s results are shown or hidden. When applied to a Layer, the mask will affect all filters on that layer where a Filter Mask only affects the individual filter. Click on the Filter Brush, select brush and, at 100% opacity, Paint in the skin softening effect on the subject’s face and arms. Use the mask visibility icon as a guide to see where you are applying the effect. 

Applying a New Adjustment Layer

Let’s continue with building the effect. Click on the + button in the Layers Toolbar header and select New Adjustment Layer. From the Creative filter section select the Dramatic filter and apply a few adjustments. This adds a nice dramatic look with muted colors.
 
Adjusting the Background with a Layer Blend Mode

The background looks a little dull. We can quickly make it appear brighter by using a simple layer blend mode. Create a new adjustment layer as we did earlier and change the layer blend mode from Normal to Screen. This will make the entire image appear brighter. Apply a layer mask and selectively paint in the effect on the background. 
So, look how simple and easy that was to use Adjustment Layers to “build up” your images. Remember, this was just one example of how you can selectively adjust images using Adjustment Layers. Use this example as a base and soon you’ll find new ways to add adjustment layers in your image editing workflow