Destructive & Non-destructive Photoshop Operations

Photo editing comes in two ways: destructive and non-destructive. That’s pretty much it. The term ‘destructive’ doesn’t mean that the photo is torn up and ruined though (as alarming as it sounds). It’s the way the pixels of the original photo are permanently altered forever. After editing a photo on Photoshop, you can’t open it back up on Photoshop and revert it back to the original. It’s altered forever. Many editors don’t like this idea, so here’s the different types of destructive and non-destructive operations on Photoshop.

Destructive

Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

As stated before, destructive editing manipulates the pixels on the original photo. Photoshop itself and many other Adobe programs are dubbed “destructive editing applications” because of its many adjustments that destroy the original photo pixels. This makes it hard to give exact examples of destructive editing since the entire software is a destructive editor (how dangerous!). Once you tint, crop, add filters, erase, or use the healing brush, the pixels are no longer the same. Of course, this is a disadvantage as you can’t take back what you changed-and undo and redo doesn’t count in my point. To combat it because Photoshop has a lot of potential, editors find non-destructive ways to edit their photos. These tricks are harder to find if you’re a beginner at using Photoshop, but even Adobe gives info about non-destructive edit methods!

Non-destructive

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

The standard non-destructive method in Photoshop would be to duplicate the original photo and edit it on a separate layer. This is very effective in editing and saving the altered copy while keeping the original untouched. But there’s much more to this safe way of editing on Photoshop. To share a few methods on non-destructive editing, you can crop photos and revert it to its original whenever you please by turning off the “Delete Cropped Pixels” check box. You can also use vector masks and filter masks which hide the pixels you edited instead of deleting them. And then there’s adjustment layers that can edit a photo’s tone and color and change it back to the original whenever you need to.

Overall, Photoshop is a great yet destructive program. Many editors turn to other programs like Aperture and Adobe Lightroom that aren’t destructive. And while that’s well and fair, you don’t have to lose hope on the capability of Photoshop’s operations. There are many ways to edit photos on Photoshop without destroying the original if you look hard enough. If you would like more information on the differences of destructive and non-destructive editing, along with tips on non-destructive editing on Photoshop, click on the links given respectively. I hope you’ve been enlightened!