Jumping Back and Forth Between Photoshop and Camera Raw


Staff member
I wrote a post yesterday that was about the process of using Adobe Camera Raw as a filter inside of Photoshop. I'd like to summarize what I wrote here, because here on the forum, things are a bit more flexible than they are on the blog. I can be much less short winded.

Using Camera Raw as a filter inside of Photoshop can be very helpful when you'd like to make edits to an image with Camera Raw, but already have that image opened up inside Photoshop. Say, you've already make some changes to it and you don't want to start all over again. Working on a file in Photoshop and then jumping over to Camera Raw to take advantage of some of its power and then jumping back to Photoshop is a common scenario and photo editors and graphic designers take advantage of this type of workflow all the time. Down below, I'll cover the necessary steps for something like this.

Okay, let's say you have a photo opened in Photoshop and you've already spent a half hour removing dust and random particles that are in the image with the Spot Healing Brush Tool. I do this task quite often, so I like using this as an example. The idea of closing out the image and making edits to it fresh in Camera Raw just isn't enticing. To work around starting from the beginning again because you forgot to make your Camera Raw edits is to first convert the layer you're working on in Photoshop to a Smart Object. After that, and making sure the image layer is selected and active in the Layers panel, head up to the Filter > Camera Raw Filter menu item and click. When you do that, Camera Raw will open up and you'll have the ability to make edits to the layer in question. When you're finished, simply click the OK button to exit out of Camera Raw and to return to Photoshop.

Now, here's the cool thing. When you return to Photoshop, you'll notice a new mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. This mask controls what's visible via the edits you just made. If the thumbnail is white, all the Camera Raw edits will be visible in your Photoshop file and if the thumbnail is black, no edits will be visible. This is where this type of filter becomes very powerful. You can basically section out your edits to hide parts of them while keeping other parts of them revealed. All you need to do is click on the mask thumbnail and then paint over the image with the Brush Tool using either black or white. Black conceals and white reveals. That's good to remember.

To conclude, I'd like to say that this is how you can begin editing an image inside of Photoshop and then continue your editing in Camera Raw and then finish it up in Photoshop again, all in a seamless manner.

If you have anything to add to this post, please do so below. If you have any questions, please ask below as well. Thanks!