Working with layers

Talk about Pixelmator Pro, share tips & tricks, tutorials, and other resources.
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2018-09-13 23:21:22

I'm sorry, but layer support in PP is baffling me... Let's say I open an image (background layer) and I make several color adjustments, also adding a vignette effect. Now, imagine I'm working on a landscape image and I wish to make a curves adjustment in the sky area only. Is this possible? I tried duplicating the background layer, adding a mask, applying a black->white gradient in the mask, but all the adjustments from the prior layer are still present and I cannot add another curves adjustment. Are layers not mutually exclusive in PP? Is the only point to layer support in PP is to add text, shapes, and additional images? Can I not edit an image similar to the way I do in Photoshop? I'm not expecting the power of PS, but what I'm describing is basic image editing.

Thank you for any insight provided.
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2018-09-14 09:12:50

Hi Alan,

The main issue here is the fact that, in Pixelmator Pro, there currently isn't a way to apply multiple 'instances' of the same adjustment to one layer. However, a fairly simple workflow you can use for edits like this is as follows:

1. Put your image inside a layer group (Command-G).
2. Apply your adjustments to the group rather than the layer inside it.
3. Duplicate the image inside the group.
4. Apply a gradient mask to the upper layer in the group, masking out the bottom of the image and leaving the sky.
5. Apply a Curves adjustment to the upper, masked layer in the group.

One minor drawback of this method is that adjustments are applied to the sky first, then that image is combined with the lower image and the other adjustments are applied to this resulting image. Having said that, the end result should be identical in most situations to the one you're looking for, save for a few edge cases.

Another potential workflow is applying the same adjustments to both layers (outside a group) as you have been doing and using the Selective Color adjustment instead of Curves on the sky layer to adjust the blues in the sky.

I'd also like to add that we are planning improvements in this area — we're seriously considering adding adjustment layers as well as the ability to apply multiple blocks of adjustments to a single layer or layer group. I can't make any promises about the path we'll eventually choose, but we definitely have workflows like yours in mind and we'll consider them once we move on to improving the color adjustments in Pixelmator Pro.
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2018-09-14 16:05:38

Hi Andrius,

That worked! Thank you so much!

If I may add my opinion regarding possible future direction for working with layers in PP, I would like the ability to apply adjustment layers (i.e., similar to what's available in PS) or, at least, the ability to target mutually exclusive adjustments to individual pixel layers. The workflow you provided is certainly workable, but, also, kludgy IMO.

On a totally different subject... I don't see any type of "Clarity" and/or "Structure" control in PP. Am I missing it?

Thanks, again.
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2018-09-14 16:31:22

Suggestions are always welcome! And yeah, that workflow is a workaround at best, although probably an OK one in the interim.

There isn't a clarity/structure-type adjustment at the moment, but it's something we're actively looking into adding and it's actually been one of the more oft-discussed topics around the office these past few days.