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?


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

| 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.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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