Spring 2012

Spring 2012
by ani

Submit your Photo
Hall of Fame

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm trying to apply two adjustment layers to a parts of a photo in Adobe Photoshop.

The adjustment layers are masked to the same section of the photo; so I have to copy the contents of one layer mask to the other layer mask every time I edit it.

Is there a way I can link the two masks together so that when I edit one of them, the other changes with it?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, that's pretty easy. Let's assume your image in in the background layer. You need only one layer mask actually, and that layer mask will be in layer A, on top of the background layer. Put your other layer B on top of A. Now press the Alt key and move your cursor right in between the two layers in the layers panel. The cursor should change to some kind of intersection symbol. Click. The top layer will be indented to the right, with a down arrow pointing at the bottom layer, indicating that the effect of layer B is now going through the mask of layer A.


1) You can see my photo in the background layer, and I added a layer A as an Exposure layer effect, with a simple circle as the layer mask. The exposure effect only applies inside the layer mask as expected.

alt text

2) My layer B is a Black & White layer effect, on top of A. Right now, by sitting on top A it actually applies to the whole image. Not what you want.

alt text

3) I Alt + Clicked right in between layer A and B, thus forcing B to use the layer mask of A. Now both the Exposure and Black & White effect only applies to the layer mask of A.

alt text

share|improve this answer
Control+Click doesn't do anything; do you mean Alt+Click? That seems to work; but only if the Layer A isn't also going through the layer below it, which in my case it is. – snostorm Dec 2 '10 at 2:12
Yes, sorry, that was Alt :) See my example, both A and B are applying an effect. That's not what you wanted? – sebastien.b Dec 2 '10 at 2:17
BTW, would you happen to be Sebastien Bacher, the Ubuntu developer? – snostorm Dec 2 '10 at 2:18
Well, yes it is. Except I also have the alt+click trick applied between the first adjustment layer and the real layer. So now the second adjustment layer applies to the entire real layer. I can work around that, though; I'll just work the way you answered until I'm done, then copy the layer mask over. :) – snostorm Dec 2 '10 at 2:20
No I'm not Bacher :) I'm not sure I understand the structure of your photoshop file. You mentioned one photo and 2 adjustments layers, and that's what I tried to reproduce in the screenshots. Anyway, if you can make Alt+Click work for you, that's great. – sebastien.b Dec 2 '10 at 2:43

You might also try grouping the layers together and applying your mask to the group. This way you can drop as many adjustments as you like and only the masked area will be affected. Select all layers you wish to group and use Cmd-G or click the folder icon in the layers palette. Good luck.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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