Layer Masks

 

Adobe® Photoshop® CC: The Complete Guide

 

Lesson Info

Layer Masks

Welcome back to another episode of Photoshop CC. The ultimate guide and let's take a look. We're still on week one. Here are the sessions for week one. We're on the last day of the first week and we're therefore at the end of our first of three, we have three weeks left after this session is over. Today our topic is layer masks. Layer masks is a feature in Photoshop. I believe I hinted at them when I talked about the layer essentials because we saw a mask in one of my images, but today we're going to explore them in depth. So I'm gonna jump right over into Photoshop so I can spend as much time as is practical there and we can get the most done then. Here I have an image that I worked on in one of our previous sessions. It's also the same image that you saw in a layered image where I had the word coffee. And there was just the mug being used as the letter O. But when I showed that image in my layer session, it had a layer mask attached to it so I thought I'd start with this image to sho...

w you how to get started with layer masks. If you look at my layers panel at the moment, I have a single layer called background. The background is the only layer that usually can't contain a layer mask. If you have an older version of Photoshop and you try to add a layer mask to the background layer, it wouldn't allow you to. You'd have to double click on the name of the layer, change it's name before you'd be able to do it. In the more modern versions of Photoshop, I believe it will now allow us to add a layer mask to what's called the background layer. And it will simply automatically convert it to a normal layer. The same thing that you would get if you double clicked on its named and changed it or you clicked on the lock symbol to unlock it. So to add a layer mask to this layer, I'm gonna go to the bottom of my screen and at the bottom of the layers panel I find an icon that looks like a circle inside of a rectangle. That's the layer mask icon. If you hover over it and get the tool tip that usually shows up, is called add a mask. But it's the bottom of my layers panel. It looks like a circle inside of a rectangle. If I click that, watch what happens to the layer I'm currently working on. You notice that now we have an extra little thumbnail image attached to that layer. That is a layer mask. A layer mask is a black and white document attached to a layer that will control what in that layer is visible and what is hidden. And if you look at this, you'll notice that the corners of the layer mask are currently highlighted. They have little brackets around them. And that's to indicate that the mask is what's currently active. That means any painting you do, any running of filters that you do, any adjustments or anything would affect the mask and not the actual picture that's in that layer. If I click on the thumbnail to the left in my layers panel, you'll find those little bracketed corners move over there and that tells me that the image itself is active now. So I just click back and forth to determine what's active. And that's important because if you grab a paint brush tool and you're about to paint, you need to know, is that paint gonna go into the mask or is it actually gonna appear in the image itself. Now with that mask active, let's see what we can do. I'll use the paintbrush tool and I'm gonna choose black to paint with. I'll come over here to my image and I'll just click and start painting. When I paint with black, you will find that the image becomes hidden and whenever I release the mouse button, the mask thumbnail over here in my layers panel will update to show me where that black paint just ended up. In a mask, any area of the mask that is black hides the layer. Any area that is white allows the layer to show up. So I can fill this mask with black or white using any technique I want to. Meaning I don't have to paint. I can make selections if I'd like and then go to the edit menu and choose fill where I can find a choice of filling with white or filling with black. I can apply filters to this. I can do, anything you could do to a black and white picture, any tool that would be available to it to modify what's in that mask. Now a lot of the times when I create a mask, I end up starting with a selection and I convert it into a mask. I'll show you how to do that in just a moment. Before I do though, let me just show you that it hasn't actually thrown anything away. If you look in the layers panel, you can still see the full image all the way out to the edges here. This is simply hiding it. And if I were to ever come over here and switch to painting with white and paint, it would bring the rest of the image back in wherever it is I paint. So that's all a mask is. Is a little gray scale image attached to a layer where black hides things, white shows things. So I'm gonna actually throw away that mask by dragging it down to the trash can. When I do it'll ask what to do with it and if I were to click apply, it would truly delete the areas that are hidden, where it would be as if I used the eraser tool or as if I hit the delete key when I have those areas selected, but I just dragged the mask to the trash in order to get this to show up. But I'm gonna choose the choice called delete. What delete will do is act as if I've never used that mask in my lifetime. It'll bring the image back into full view, because I wanted to show you how to do this from a selection. So I'm gonna select that mug. Before when I selected the mug, I believe I used the elliptical marquee tool in our selection essentials class and I came over here, made a selection and relatively easily I was able to get this to line up with a few tricks that we learned in that session. And I think to add the handle, I came in and used the quick selection tool to paint out on that handle. All right, now I have this object selected just like I'd like. I want to hide the background without actually throwing it away. So if I have the selection active, at the moment I go to the bottom of my layers panel and I click on the layer mask icon, watch what happens. It converts the selection into the mask. Meaning that the mask gets filled in automatically. Where any area that was not selected turns black in the mask therefore becomes hidden in the image. And the area that was selected remains white in the mask and white allows the layer to show up. And so that selection goes away because it got converted into the mask. Then I can modify it. I can just grab my paintbrush tool if I need to make any changes, but overall it looks like a relatively clean end result. And maybe in this particular case, I might wanna get rid of the hand because after thinking about that I wanna simplify this so therefore I can grab my paintbrush tool, I would choose to paint with black because black hides things. And I can come in here and paint to get rid of the handle. Like that. I just simply need to make sure when I paint that I glance over here briefly to make sure the mask is active. Because if this is active instead, when I grab my paintbrush tool and paint with black, you'll get black paint right on your picture because that's what's currently active. I'll choose undo. Now I need to click on the mask to make sure its corners are highlighted. Then anything that I do will affect the mask. And I'm not limited to the paintbrush tool. I can for instance, come up here to the filter menu. I could blur the mask. If I choose Gaussian Blur, that's going to blur the contents of the mask and it will cause the edge to fade out, be soft. You see the image fading out now? Or I could instead use other filters. I can come over to here and try ripple. Ripple is going to distort the edge to make so it's not smooth. See if you can find the edge, there it is. And here I can choose by how much. Maybe I just want an interesting looking edge. Might click okay and it might be difficult to see here because I have to zoom up. It's a high resolution image. But if you see it, can you see a rippled edge now? So it's any tool that will work on a gray scale document can be used when that mask is active. So if I only show you a couple tools that I happen to use, just know that all the other tools are available that would work on a black and white picture. That's all it is, is a black and white image attached to a layer. All right let's work on more complex images and do some fun stuff. Here I have two images that I've already put together. To put these together I have, if you look at my layers panel, I have two of them. What I did is I went into bridge and in bridge I found the images I wanted to work on, which are right here. I selected both of them and I can choose tools, Photoshop, load files into Photoshop layers. And you have the same or a similarly worded command in Lightroom as well. If you choose to organize your images in Lightroom. And what you would do there is you'd go to the photo menu in Lightroom, there's a choice called edit in and on a side menu, it will talk about loading the files as Photoshop layers which would do the exact same thing as this would. When you run that command you end up with a brand new file with one layer for each image. So if you had 10 images, you'd have 10 layers. But in this case I only have two images. So in this case what I have is a long exposure to get this silky water look. But the problem with doing a long exposure such as this one is that if you look at it closely there some of the leaves in this photograph that are blurred because it was a little bit windy. And so when you get the long exposure to get a nice smooth looking waterfall, you get the blurry leaves. So I took two shots here. This one with an extended exposure and also this one with a much more brief exposure. And that allowed me to capture this with the leaves look crisp. I would like to combine these two images together so that if there's any areas where I don't like the fact that the leaves are blurred here, I can look at the alternative version that's sitting right below it. To accomplish that, I'm gonna simply click on the top layer and add a layer mask. I'll use my paintbrush tool and I'm just make sure I have a soft edge brush when I do this, because if I use a hard edge brush, you'll be able to see exactly where it stops. With a soft edge brush, it will slowly fade out on the edge and I can easily come in here and change this. So I'll paint with black and I'm just gonna paint where those leaves were in motion. You could see how I can bring them in. And I can do that for all sorts of areas within this. There are some areas that would be very difficult to do because if these leaves ever overlap the waterfall itself or the rapids or whatever you wanna call these, like right over in here. Then we're gonna end up getting the shorter exposure on the water as well, so we will be limited on where we can do this. But if you wanna see the difference, I'll just turn off the top layer. There's what the bottom layer looks like, which is the short exposure where I don't like the look of the water as much. Then I put the top layer on and you can see the result of the two put together. And then there's a way to temporarily turn off this mask, to say what would it look like if I let the entire layer show up. And the way you do that is you hold down the shift key. If you hold shift and you click anywhere within the mask thumbnail in your layers panel, watch what happens to it. Do you see, a red X goes through it? That means it's temporarily disabled. And all I was doing is holding down shift and I clicked anywhere within that mask in my layers panel. So there, I'll turn it back on and you can see getting those crisp areas to appear. Let's try this with a different image, different kind of concept. It'll still be the same process we're gonna use. We're gonna be combining multiple images, but this time here's what I ended up capturing. I was standing on a bridge looking down and I liked the text on this road. And these taxis going by, doing a little longer exposures and I just captured multiple pictures, but I could never get it when there was enough cars in there where I really liked how much traffic there was. Because I wanted it to be a good amount of cars along with the text. So I just sat there and kept capturing these and I didn't have a tripod with me so that, things move a little bit between them. Now I could select all of those and again, use load files into Photoshop layers to get them all into a single file. I've done that for some of these, not all of them though. And I have it, if I close these out, right here. I'm only gonna use four of the layers or four images I should say. And once I load them as layers, heres what my layers panel looks like. Now the first thing I'm gonna need to do is if I turn these off, do you see the road moving within the frame? I need to make sure they somehow align. And I could try to possibly lower the opacity of the top layer so I could see through it to the layer that's underneath and then use Photoshop's move tool to try to move it around and get it to line up with what I can see through there, but I don't know about you. I don't feel like spending the time to do that. Especially if my camera rotated at all, then I'd have to be rotating the picture and it would just not be pleasant. So what I'm gonna do instead is I'm gonna select all these layers in my layers panel. I'll go to the edit menu and that's where I'm gonna find a special choice. It's call auto align layers. Auto align layers it what Photoshop uses when you tell it to stitch a panorama. When you do a panorama it compares what's on the edges of the photos and if it finds common information it lines them up. And so here when I choose auto align layers, I'm just gonna click okay without even looking at the options, default settings. And let's see if it does an okay job of lining these up. So now if I turn off the top layer by turning off its eyeball, do you see the road doesn't seem to move. And then I turn off the next one and the road stays consistent. The next one and so on. And the only thing I'm gonna need to do is crop the image down to where I have no transparency around it. There is a crop tool right here in Photoshop. I can just grab it. Crop in a little bit. Whoops, didn't mean to, here we go. All right so now we have everything lined up. We're ready to go. I want more cars on my road. So what I'm gonna do is first choose which one of these I like as far as a starting point goes. Maybe in order to get enough different colors of cars, I might start with this one. So I got some white cars in it. I'm gonna move that to the bottom. So I move it down in my layers panel so it starts at the bottom. I then take the layer above it, turn on its eyeball and now I want the red car from this layer. So I'm gonna a layer mask. And all I'm gonna do here is grab my paintbrush tool and remember that we can paint with black to hide things, right? So I'm gonna hide this area here which is gonna reveal whatever is on the layer underneath. So got that middle car. I hid a little too much over here because we ran out of space so I'll switch back over and paint with white to allow that area to come back in. Just paint it in there. So now we have two cars. Let's add some more. I'll go to the next layer and turn it on. And we see the car on the right, that's the one I'd like to use. So I will come in here and do another mask. Now the only thing about doing the mask is usually when you add a layer mask, you start with a white mask. And that means everything that layer will be visible to begin with. There is a way to instead get a black mask and black hides things. That means when I add the mask, the entire layer will disappear, I won't be able to see its contents and then I can paint with white to bring something back. So in order to get a black mask, I'm gonna hold down the option key. That's alt in windows. And I did that at the moment I clicked on the layer mask icon to add that layer mask. Holding option gives you a black mask. So now I can use my paintbrush tool, paint with white and paint in the car on the right. Then I'm not sure if I need to use the layer that's on top, but let's see what's there. Ah, it's a little car in the middle. I don't think I need that unless I, it'd look like there's an accident going on, because there'd be a red and a white care there at the same time. So I think I will discard that. But now if you look at this, we have three cars and those three cars are from three different photographs. Now I might want that one little white car. I saw one a minute ago when I turned all these off. Do you see the car on the right side there? So what I'd have to do is turn on this layer that's above and that's what's covering it up. And I would need to paint with black to hide the layer that's on top there. And then I'll put this back on and it's also needs to be hidden because it's covering some of it up. And finally I need to crop just a little bit tighter because the edge of the photo was there. So I'll go to the crop tool, pull this in. And you'll find when you only need to crop out a tiny amount of your image, often times the crop tool will snap to the edge of your picture and it seems to be almost impossible to get it to crop a small amount. If that seems to be what's happening for you when you try this, you can hold down the control key after you click the mouse button. So you click the mouse, you start to drag the cropping rectangle, then hold control and that prevents snapping and therefore you can get just one pixel easily cropped out. Looks like I needed to do a little bit down here as well. But you get the idea of how the layer mask could be useful here. And the main this is, none of what I just did is permanent because these masks, I can always come up with the shift key, click on it to hide or disable the mask and do the same to this one to see what it would look like with or without them. But there, I like how I can put that together. Now hit can be used in the opposite way. Here I was adding cars. What if I could never get a clean shot of the road and all I wanted was the road's text with no cars there? Well I'd be doing the exact same process. It's just that I would, instead of bring cars in, I'd be removing them, just hoping that I took enough pictures where each section of road in at least one particular image was clean. I mean if you wanna see that, we can come in here and I'll fill these masks with white. And we'll try to get it so we just have a clean. So here I'd need to get rid of that car that's in the back and the car that's in the middle so I turn on the next layer up and I look at just those two spots where the two cars are to say, is there road there. There is where the one white car is. So I'm going to make this mask black so that everything disappears from this layer. One way of doing that if you already have the mask is to choose invert. Command I. Invert means give me a negative of what I currently have. So if you currently have white, you end up with black. If you watch the mask, you'll see it happen. And then I come in here and paint. Just with white right there. Then I can go to the next layer and see if that area where the white car is happens to be covered up when I turn this layer on and yes it is. So I can come over here, and I'm also gonna make that mask black. I can type command I as a keyboard shortcut for invert. I get used to using it so much that command I is what I usually use. That makes the mask black and I'm only gonna use this portion right here. So there we got a nice clean road. Now I would most commonly do this, not on a road, but on some sort of touristy location where I can't get a clean shot of whatever the landmark is without tourists in the shot. So what do I do? I either put my camera on a tripod or I brace it up against a tree or something else so that I'm not gonna move it much and I'm gonna take multiple pictures. I'll just take on picture. I'll wait for people to move through the scene. Take another picture. Wait a little while longer for them to move through the scene. Take another picture. And I'd have to be intelligent about it where I see if somebody's eating a sandwich somewhere the whole time, I can't get rid of them with this process, but I might go and throw something at them or something, get them to move over, take another shot. If you can get enough shots where you can get a clean area, it might be that every single one of your pictures has 100 people in it, but if you take enough photographs and combine them together like this, you might be able to get a clean looking shot where you actually have removed all the tourists. Does that make sense? So then, let's see. I want to in this image, I think I want a new sky because that sky's kind of boring. This was taken in New Mexico and New Mexico is known for having amazing looking skies. So somehow I want to hide this sky, put another one in. So I'll start by going to the quick selection tool and seeing if I can get it to select the sky. And I hope it messes up because I need to be able to show you some features of layer mask. So I will get this selected and I'm going to then add a mask. Now when you add a mask, usually if you have a selection, it assumes you wanna keep the selection. That area of the image. And right now I want the opposite, meaning I wanna discard the area that's selected. The exact opposite of the normal behavior. And to do that I'm gonna hold down the option key when I add my mask. Whenever you hold down option when you're adding your mask, you get the opposite of the normal behavior. So if when you have a selection, it usually keeps the area that's selected. If I hold option when I do it, it will hide the area that was selected. Now unfortunately in this case, I notice that we're missing part of the building. If you look at the top of the building, I hold down the shift key and I click on my mask to disable it, do you see the tops? So now the problem is, it's gonna be somewhat difficult to see those when I'm working on the masks. So what I might do in this case is hold shift, click on the mask, now I'm gonna use the quick selection tool again to try to get those crosses at the top. If I try to use the quick selection tool right now, I might have an issue. Let me see what happens. If I get up here and I try to get into the cross, small enough tool. Well it is doing okay, selecting it, but if you find that it has problems, look at what's active over here. If this is what's active and not this, some tools will only pay attention to the contents of the mask and will not be looking at the image. Even though you can see the image, it doesn't mean it's actually active. So for some tools, you'd have to click over here to allow it to see those areas. So I'm gonna come up here, add some more. And so if it's having difficulty, I'll click over on that part so it's on the layer itself. See if it does any better and it should because it will be able to see the full contents of that layer. And then, since I already have a mask and I need to somehow add to that mask now, I'm gonna need to figure out how. So the way I'm gonna do it is, once I have a selection of this area, I'm going to fill that area with white. I just need to make sure the mask is what's active. So my layers panel, I click on the mask. I know my selection's not perfect, but just for demonstration purposes it's close enough. And I'm gonna go to edit, fill, and I'm gonna fill with white because white is what brings the image back. So then the areas that were selected suddenly got filled in and those crosses come back. I can continue refining this as much as I want to doing that. I'm not gonna spend the time right now to do those crosses because right now we're not talking about making selections. We're talking about instead, layer masks. And so that'll be just not quite perfect up there. We can do perfect ones when we talk about selections and we have a session called advanced masking which would show us how to do that quite easily. So then there's a couple other things that I could do that could be useful. Let's say I did wanna touch up what was there. And notice that it doesn't look very smooth so I wanna touch this up. I could disable the mask by shift clicking. And then check this out. I'm gonna press the backslash key. It's right above the return or enter key on a Macintosh and it's the slash key that leans toward the left, it'd be this way for you guys. And what that does is it takes the layer mask that I have and it overlays it on top of the picture in red which looks a lot like something else we used earlier called quick mask mode. And it's the same general technology. It's just this is not quick mask mode because quick mask mode starts with a selection and ends with a selection when you turn it off. This is starting with a layer mask and is ending with a layer mask. It's just looks the same and it in general works the same. So I could come in here now with my paintbrush and I could modify my mask. I can come in here and grab a tiny little brush if I want to. Painting with black and if I needed to fill in this little area, there's a trick I haven't mentioned yet, I don't think about using your painting tools. If you hold down the shift key when you click, you get straight lines. Meaning it connects the dots from the first place you clicked to the second place you clicked. It snaps a straight line between them. And therefore I can click in this little nook here, hold down the shift key and click over here. It'll connect those dots. I could even click way out here and fine tune these to get them to look much more precise. And then I can come over and paint with white and fix the little cross. But it's really nice being able to both disable the mask so you can see the entire contents of the layer. And to also be able to paint on it like this with the red overlay. So the way that I did those two actions is that, first off to disable the mask, I held down the shift key and I clicked within the mask in my layers panel. Then to view the mask as a red overlay so I could still see it and work on it, I ended up pressing the backslash key. And finally, when I'm touching it up like I am right now, I'm holding down shift so when I click it connects the dots from wherever I last clicked making a straight line which can be rather useful. Then I'll let go shift when I fix up areas like right here. And I might use shift again right there. Anyway, we don't need to spend enough time to get that to be perfect. You get the idea, right? When I'm all done with it, I can press the backslash key to turn that off and then I can hold down the shift key and reenable the mask. Now I do notice another area that has an issue. And that is, do you see a bush on the left side of the photograph and I can see a chunk of whitish blue sky right there. Well let's see if there's some way we might be able to be tricky in that area and get some work done without trying too hard. I'm going to disable the mask so we can see what was originally there. I'm then going to select the general area that has the issue, which would be right there. I'm going to copy the picture that's right there within there. Now I gotta be careful because what's active right now? The mask is, isn't it? So if I choose copy, I'd be copying the contents of the mask. I wanna copy from the picture. So hit copy. Then I'm gonna go to the mask. And I wanna paste this into the mask. The thing I had just copied, I wanna paste right in there. Well the problem is if I go to the edit menu and choose paste, watch what happens. Do you see what it just did? It created a brand new layer. It didn't put it in the mask. I'll choose undo. I want it to go in the mask. The mask is active and if I use the paintbrush tool, it would paint there. If I used a filter it would apply to that. Why won't it allow me to paste into it? Well the mask must be visible on your image, where you can see it right there. We've had the mask visible before. You remember it as a red overlay? So I'm gonna do that. Just hit the backslash key so it's a red overlay. As long as the mask is visible on the image itself, then we can paste into it. So I just pasted into it and I have in there the opposite of what I want because the bush is dark, the sky is bright. The problem is dark stuff, meaning black, hides things. So you see the bush starting to disappear. I need the exact opposite of that. So I'm going to invert. Invert means give me an opposite of what I have. Give me a negative. There we go. Now what this is is it now has the actually picture itself in there and we're gonna use the picture itself to determine where this edge is. The only thing we're gonna have to do is adjust it. I'll come over here, choose adjustments, and choose levels. We need to make sure that the bush itself that we just pasted in, turns all black or all white actually. And the sky turns all black because black hides things. So I'll bring in this and do you see the bush coming in? And then I'll bring in the opposite side. See the sky is starting to get covered with, cool, click okay. And now let's get rid of my selection and I'll turn off the red overlay. Do you see how now I have that pretty nicely mask. There is one little line in here where the edge of my selection was. I'll have to come in with my paintbrush and just fix that tiny area, painting with white too. That's because my selection had the tiniest bit of a soft edge to it. It's what's known as anti-alias. And so it still had a little bit there that it was gripping on to. But now that little part here where we used to have sky still showing up is gone. Now we're gonna do that same technique again in a little while on a different type of image and it'll probably make more sense to you then, but I just needed to fix that so I had to figure out a method for doing so. All right, so now we have our sky relatively well isolated. Let's grab a replacement sky. I'm gonna go over to bridge and let's see which sky should we, that's a New Mexico sky. I think this one looks pretty cool. I'm gonna just drag it on over. Hopefully it's big enough. Yeah, it looks like it. Now since we have some foreground here, I'm gonna have to make this even bigger so that that stuff gets pushed beyond the edge of my screen. And I'll just scale this so that that stuff is gonna be covered up by the foreground of my other photo. Press return or enter. And in my layers panel, all I need to do is move this underneath. There. Now we have our replacement sky and it's not permanent. So if I notice any problems in the image and I do notice one area, I doubt you can see it but I happen to notice there's a little bitty line right there. I'll click on the mask and I just need it up. Let's see, I gotta paint with black. I don't know if you could see there was a tiny hint of a line there. So now we've ended up being able to replace that sky. And so all we're gonna do now is just work on a bunch of images with layer masks knowing that a layer mask is simply a black and white picture attached to a layer. Where any part of the mask that is black will hide the contents of the layer, any part that is white will show the contents of the layer. We can paint on it, we can use filters, adjustments and all sorts of things so we can start exploring what are we really capable of doing with this feature called layer mask. So let's take a look. Well let's say we have that image again and I wanna add something else to make it more exciting. I wanna add a bird flying over. Well let's open our bird image. I'll just double click on it. And this is a raw file so camera raw comes up but I'll just click open image. And often times to select something, I find it is, it can be easier to select what you don't want instead of what you do. Meaning for me to select the bird itself, there's a lot of variation in color and in brightness, but the sky is so simple that probably the quick selection tool will allow me to just paint around it. Although in this case, it decided to include the bird. I'll hold down the option key. See if I can take away. So in case I could've been wrong in that, since it. Well let's try a different method. There was a tool that I mentioned when we talked about selections that I said wasn't very useful. It was called the tragic wand tool. That's what people call it, the magic wand tool. Well sometimes it's really useful. This might be one of those instances. I hope so though because I haven't tested it. It could mess up on you. We'll see. Let's make a general selection like this and then let's grab the magic wand tool. With the magic wand tool active, I'm gonna hold down the option key. I don't know if you remember from our selection class, shift would add to a selection, option which is alt to Windows, takes away. And I'm just gonna click on the sky here to say take away sky and boom. It just took away away the color I clicked on which was blue sky. I had to be holding down the option key. Option means take away. And I said click to take away this color. And there, it's got me an okay selection. So that's just a little trick. Let's then use a layer mask. So I'll click the layer mask icon and now we have that background removed. We can then use the move tool and I can drag this to the other tab that's on my screen. Hopefully that's that document. And then drag it into that document. Oh, it's huge. Geez. And I'll close the original, the other tab. Then to scale him down, I type command T. Remember command T, when we talked before transforms things. It's a keyboard short cut that's the same as choosing free transform right there. Now when you transform somethings, this particular image is so huge that those transformation handles that we usually see in the corners are beyond the bounds of my screen. It's as if they're way out beyond my laptop edge out here. And so I can't see them. Here's a trick. If you're ever trying to transform a layer and you can't see the transformation handles because they're beyond the bounds of what you're viewing, type command zero. That's control zero in Windows. Command zero is a shortcut for this command right here. It usually means fit the picture I'm working on within my screen. And most of the time it will think about the document you have here. But when you are transforming something, it's thinking about the transformation handles. Therefore if you type command zero, it means zoom in or out enough so it fits within my screen. So now I can actually see where they are. Now I can type command zero again, pop it up to where you could see both the document and the transformation handles. So I could come in here and decide exactly how big would I like that. And I can rotate to whatever direction I would like. I could move it up here so it looks kind of funky with the crosses and everything. And press return or enter when I'm done. And we could just continue adding elements to this image if we'd like. The process would remain the same each time we do it. Now let's see how we can work with pasting things in that mask. You remember when we pasted that little bush that I copied? I pasted it and did stuff. Well we can scan things and use them. For instance here, I have something I've scanned. What I did is a took a piece of watercolor paper and I took a huge brush, the kind of brush you'd paint your house with. I dipped it in some ink and I started painting on the watercolor paper, right in the middle of the sheet. And then only when the brush started running out of ink, did I start painting near the edges. And that made it so I could see the bristle strokes that are there. So I'm going to take this, I'm going to select all. And I'm going to copy. So remember that it's thinking about that image right now. Then I'm going to go and choose a different picture. One that I don't want to have being a rectangle. This image, I don't want it to be rectangle. I want it to have an interesting looking edge. So what I'll do is add a layer mask and remember to paste into the layer mask, we had to have it visible somehow. And there's actually two ways to make it visible. So far the only method we've used is you hit the backslash key, which puts it on as a red overlay. But we have an alternative and that is if I hold down the option key, alt and Windows, I can click right on the mask, and if I do we're directly viewing it. That's the mask. I have to have that mask visible in order to be able to paste into it. So I'll choose paste. My image I pasted in is much larger than this document, so I need to transform it. Do you remember the keyboard shortcut for transform is command T. Control T in Windows. And then there was a trick we used a minute ago which was the keyboard shortcut for fit in window, which is command zero, so I can see the little handles. We'll just bring it down like that. Now in a mask black hides things, doesn't it? So if we use this, the middle of the picture will be missing. I might want the opposite of this if I wanna hide the outer areas. And to get that I'm gonna end up inverting it. Command I. Invert means give me a negative of what I currently have. So all the white areas will turn black, all the black areas will turn white and so on. So when I choose invert, that's what we have. So now if black hides things, shouldn't the edge of the photograph be hidden? And if white shows things, the middle should generally be visible, but notice that in the middle it's not truly white. There's something in there, right? So if I no longer view the mask, instead I view the image itself. I'll hold down the option key once again and click on the mask. That's how I got into this view, is I held down option, alt in Windows, and I clicked within the mask. If I do the same thing a second time, it gets me out of this view. So now if you look at the middle, instead of seeing just the image, I can see like it's broken up. I can see a hint of a checkerboard showing through and those are all those areas that are not solid white. If there's any shade of gray whatsoever in there, it will make it partially show up in there. So all we're gonna do is adjust our layer mask. What we're gonna do is this slider here on the right forces areas to white. And I'm gonna pull that in and usually with an image like this, there'll be one big hump on the right, I'll pull it in to the end of that. And all that's doing is taking the texture that was in the center portion of that image that you pasted into the mask, and instead of having little shades of gray in there, it's now wiped it out to solid white. And so now I can do that. Finally, I want this checkerboard to not look like a checkerboard. I want it to be a solid color. So I'll go to the bottom of my layers panel and there's a feature we haven't used yet. And that is, if I click on this icon down here that's a circle that's half black and half white, one of the choices in here is called solid color. And that means just create a layer that's full of a solid color. Called a solid color layer. And the color picker comes up and I can tell it whichever color I would like. I'll choose white. I'll then move this newly created layer down so it's underneath and therefore I can see it without the checkerboard because we just have something to fill in that empty area. What's nice about a solid color layer, remember I went to the bottom of my layers panel, the half black and half white circle is where I found solid color, that's how I got it. But what's really nice about it is, you can double click on this portion right here and it'll bring you back into the color picker and you could change the color in the future to anything you want. So if I wanted black back there, whatever you would like but it's not a permanent change. You just double click on this little swatch of color. It comes with a mask on it so if you don't want it to fill your entire screen, you could paint in that mask. In my case, I do want it to fill my entire screen, so I can just leave the mask white. Or if I want to simplify the document, I could drag the mask to the trash. Delete layer mask, sure. If there's no layer mask, it just lets the layer show up filling the entire document. I can click back on the layer above and I could add some special features to it. I can go down to the letters FX at the bottom of my screen and I can try something like maybe a drop shadow. So then we get a little bit more dimension to the image. Can you see my little drop shadow that's sitting here? Or I could try something called bevel and emboss which will add a little 3D edge to it, kind of. Whatever you'd like. And if that's too much because it starts looking busy, you can just drag the word effects to the trash. Say nope, I liked it better simple. So I end up scanning all sorts of things. I end up, let's see. I could some handmade paper. Put it on a black sheet of paper so there's separation between it and it's background and take a picture of it. Can't we paste that into a mask? If black hides things, wouldn't it hide the outer part? And the only thing we need to do is adjust it so that this outer part is solid black. Not this kind of modeled black. And the inner part should be white and therefore we can use this and if we do, now we're gonna get this really nice edge that we see here. It's gonna crop out photo using that same shape. But it's the same process that I just did. And I've included some edges with this class. My wife, I had her go through and make edges for us. And actually, those two, I'm not sure if they're in the downloads. Let me show you which ones are. Here's the ones that she just created for this class. So you get this, this. This one could be fun because you can adjust it to make the whole center black so it disappears. Or you can actually apply this in other ways where let's say I had text. If I apply this to text, it'll look somewhat like a rubber stamp. Do you know how with a rubber stamp, it doesn't apply perfectly to the entire surface? Well put this in a mask, adjust it with levels until it looks good, but this will make it look like your text is not perfectly showing up. Instead, it's partially disappearing in places. Here's one that looks like a Polaroid, but that's pretty simple. And there's another edge. Another one. So anyway, I just had her work on creating a bunch of these edges so you don't have to. She also created a bunch of layouts for us with layers. Here are the templates. I think I mentioned these in a layers class. So you have all of these with hand lettered text to use. We have little cards as well. All these kinds of things. Yes? How do you say, if we made one-- If you make one like this, it all depends one you would like to create. If it's something like this and you happen to plan to put it into a layer mask, then just save it as a JPEG or a TIF or whatever you want. And you'll just be copying and pasting it into the layer mask. If on the other hand it is a layout like one of these, each one of these rectangles would be on a separate layer and you would save the end result in Photoshop file format or TIF, then you would be able to open that again in the future and still have those layers and work with them. But we have a whole session on file formats and things. It's actually one of the bonus videos. But you would save it with the photo in it? Can you save it without a photo in it? Certainly, you can just have a colored box that represents where the photo would end up. All right, let's get back into layer masks. Let's see if we can use the same concept we just used when it came to this image here. But we're gonna use it with clouds and see if we might, and I'm not sure how successful we'll be. We'll be able to see if we can somewhat remove the background on the clouds. There's a different feature I'd rather use for this, but let's just see if it works with layer mask. I'm gonna select all and copy. I'm gonna add a layer mask and I'm gonna view the mask by option clicking on it. Remember option click is what got us to view it. And I'll paste the picture right in there. Command V is what I just typed. It's the same as choose paste. Now black hides things doesn't it? Isn't the sky close to black? All we need to do is adjust this and try to get the entire sky black if that's possible and I don't know if it will be or not because I haven't tried this before. Then we can get the background to disappear. We need to get the skies to be white to completely show up though so let's just see how close we can get. I'll type command L, that means levels. Or you can choose image adjustments to get to levels. I'm gonna pull this in and see if we can get the background, not sure how close we'll get. Just fine tuning this and seeing if I can get something interesting. It's not gonna be perfect. But you're getting the idea that we're actually removing the background on the sky somewhat, or on the clouds. And let's take a look at what's in the mask. I'll option click on it. There it is. That's just a copy of the picture that's been adjusted. So I end up capturing all sorts of shapes and subject matter that you wouldn't necessarily appreciate all by itself. It's a line in a parking lot because its got an interesting edge that's waring away. Because I can throw it in a layer mask. Clouds, I can throw them in a layer mask. This could limit where text shows up or a texture or something else. All it is is a gray scale picture attached to a layer that will hide certain parts of it. So experiment with it. Let me open up a complex image that I think you might appreciate. This image I created in Photoshop. And each one of these different colored bars, they're on a separate layer. And I wanted it to look as if they were kind of woven where this red one here might go on top of the yellow, then slip under it. And then go on top of the orange one and then slip under the purplish one. And then go on top of the blue and then under. You know what I mean? And let's see if we can get that look using layer masks and I'll show you some tricks. Here's what the end result is that I want. So if you follow one of those things and follow it around, you'll see that it looks like it's weaving in and out of the other objects. It's not physically doing that because there's only one layer for each one of these and the red one is on top, the top most layer, but we can make it look as if it's that way by simply hiding the layer wherever I want it to look as if it's going below something. Okay, let's try it. I'm not gonna do the whole image because it would take quite a bit of time. And to make things simple in my layers panel I'm going to do something so you can actually see the colors in there. What I'm gonna do isn't gonna make sense to you unless you knew how I constructed this. But if will make it easier for you to recognize which color is which. Layer style. There we go. Okay so because the 3D quality that you see on each one of these shapes was created using the effects icon at the bottom of the layers panel, there's a choice called bevel and emboss. It usually gives a slight 3D edge to things and that's what made this have a big, shiny edge on it. And I just made it so they're not accessories attached to the layer, instead you can kind of see the end result. But anyway, look at the top layer. If I turn it off, do you see it's the red shape? If I only show you that, that's what's in that layer. I would like to hide this layer in certain areas to make it look as if it's going underneath other layers. There's one trick your gonna need to know about in order to get this to happen. And that is a special way of making a selection. If you look in the layers panel, you see how this particular layer is surrounded by emptiness, isn't it? There's a way to get Photoshop to select everything that doesn't look like a checkerboard in a layer. Meaning select everything but the empty areas. And the way you do it is you move your mouse on to this little thumbnail image that's here in your layers panel. You hold down the command key, that's control in Windows, and you click on it. You see how it just selected that shape? Now I can just go down to the next one and command click on it and you see you get a different shape. Click on the next. All that's doing is it's saying select everything that's not a checkerboard in this layer. So that's gonna help us out tremendously. Let's see how. I'm gonna add a layer mask to the top layer and now I'm gonna have it so that right here it's gonna look like it's on top of the yellow one. And right there I want it to dip underneath. So it would be very convenient to have the yellow squiggle, whatever these are, selected. And so I'll go into my layers panel, do you see the yellow one right here? And what I'll do to it is I'll command click on it so I get a selection. Then I'm gonna paint with black, the selection will limit where I'm painting so I won't get over spray beyond the yellow stuff. And I'm just gonna paint right here to say hide the red layer, that's the layer I'm working on right there. Then we're gonna go to where this goes next. It goes under the yellow, it should go on top of the orange, and then right here it should go underneath the purple. So I'm gonna find the purple one in here and command click on it so I get a selection. Therefore when I paint, I'm only gonna be painting where that purple thing is. I won't get any over spray beyond its edges and I'll just paint right there to say hide the red stuff there. If I didn't have the selection and I painted there the whole red thing would be disappearing. I needed to do it so it was only in that spot. So then I continue. It's going under, it should over there and now it should go under the little part of this one here. Let's see if I can find it by command clicking, no, there. And I'll paint right there. Okay so now it's going under, it should go over and then it needs to go under there. So I need to find that particular shape again. I think it was this one. And the selection is making it so I can just very precisely isolate that. I'll keep going under, here it needs to go over. So here it should go under. So let's go for the cyan-ish one. And you get the idea. If I were to just keep doing this. I could do it all the way until I got to the end. This is the kind of project that I only do when I'm watching television or movies that are not as entertaining as they should be. You know what I mean? Sometimes there's a family activity going on and you're like, should we all watch Christmas Vacation for the 96,000th time? We watch it every Christmas kind of thing. It's like, okay. And then I'll open something like this and I'll be going, doing my painting and looking up at the movie whenever I get my brain overload. And that allowed me to go from this to that where it looks as if these are interwoven when they're not interwoven. The red one's on top and then the other is standing right below it. And just on each one I had to hide it in various areas and I did that using layer masks. All right, then one other object. Let's take a picture of an iPad and I'm actually gonna simplify this. I'll actually flatten it because I didn't realize we had layers in here. And I wanna put a different picture in there and then I gotta show you how you can move the picture and not mess up your end result. So let's go pick a picture to put in here. I don't know if this one will be big enough, but we'll find out. Yeah it's big enough. And I wanna put that inside my iPad because that's something you might wanna show. It's like a picture of your own photo on an iPad or a phone or a TV or whatever it happens to be. To do that I'll turn off the top layer so I can see what's underneath and I'll make a precise selection of the area where the screen is. Then I'll turn that layer back on and I'll just add a layer mask so we only keep the area that's selected. Cool. So now we have it on our iPad. But here the comes the problem. What if I want to reposition or scale the picture now? To reposition it, you just drag. That's not gonna work. And the reason why that's happening is if you look in the layers panel, you see that the mask and the image are linked together. You see the link symbol, the chain? That means that if I move or transform them both of them will change. If I click on the symbol to turn it off, now when you move or you transform, it's only gonna move or transform what's active, which means the image or the mask. So I will do it on the image. And now when I use the move tool, do you see how I can move them around within that? It's only when I run out of space do you see what's underneath. And if I were to type command T to transform, the mask will not get transformed with the image, whereas if it was not unlinked, then the mask would've been transforming along with it. So if the mask ever lines up with something on a different layer, like what's underneath, that's when you probably wanna unlink the mask. Because the mask should stay lined up with whatever that is underneath and so therefore you could move this layer around without messing it up. You can always link it again by coming in here and clicking right where the symbol used to be. Now when I type command T, you will find that when I transform this, not only does the image change, but so does the mask. Mask gets smaller along with it so. So then the final thing is when you're done with a mask, usually I just leave it there. But you can drag it to the trash can and if you do, it'll ask you this. If I click apply, watch my layers panel. Look at the picture of the elephant and when I click apply, do you see that it actually deleted the areas that were hidden? Choose undo. Or if I drag it to the trash and I click delete, delete means act like I never had one. Bring everything back into view. So when I choose delete you see the whole picture come back. So you don't have to throw them away though. The other thing you can do is you can drag them between layers. So if you wanna use the same mask in more than one layer, you can just drag it to the other layer. It will move it between the two layers. If you need to move a copy, hold the option key. All right. So this has been layer masks. Now we only got into the basics of layer mask during this particular class and that's because we're gonna be using layer masks for all sorts of things. We have an entire session on adjustment layers for instance. Every adjustment layer you ever create has a layer mask attached to it. So we're gonna be using layer masks in that session. We have other sessions like advanced layers and that's where we'll also be using layer masks. So we'll add on to what we talked about here. I just needed to make sure you had some of the basics of layer mask down. And it'll take some practice. You don't have to know everything I showed you here, by any means, whatsoever. The only thing you need to remember is how to add a layer mask and then what happens when you paint when black, what happens when you paint with white. If you can remember those things. Also you should remember that you should look at your layers panel and look for the brackets around the corners because it tells you, what are you about to paint on. The mask or the layer that it's attached to. And those are the most important parts. All of the other things, especially the little tricks we did like pasting things into masks and all that, you don't have to get into all that until you've really had a lot of experience with masks. Then you can start getting fancy like that and review this video to remind you of how to do that kind of thing. So Monday, next week we're gonna start talking about tools and panels. That means that so far we've been using big features like selections and layers and layer masks, but we haven't really gone on a tour of some of the tools that are in our tools panel. But now we know enough of features in Photoshop so that when we do tour those tools and the panels that have the options for them, we can do stuff with them. Had I started with that, we wouldn't have known how to use a layer mask yet. So when I end up using a tool, I'd have to stay away from the fancy features in Photoshop and only stay with the most basic. But since now we've gotten through enough features, I think it's a good time where on Monday we can tour a good number of the tools that are in Photoshop and look at all those panels that fill up your screen. But between now and then, why don't you go to Facebook. And on Facebook we have a Facebook group, that's the web address for it. And that's where you can go and ask all the questions you can think of. Also if you used layer mask to create anything and you wanna share it with your friends, well go share it there. You'll start getting comments from all the other people that taking the course. If you're having any issues with any images you try to use masks with, they can all pop in and help you. I come in there as well on a regular basis to help out. Finally, if you wanna find me in the web, here are various outlets where you can look me up. Otherwise I hope to see you guys on, what'll it be, Monday, for another session.

Class Description

Join one of our best software instructors, Ben Willmore, to learn how to work effectively in Photoshop. Ben has made a profession out of teaching Photoshop and has been doing it for over twenty years. 

In this series, you'll learn:

  • Retouching
  • Compositing
  • Masking
  • Layers
  • Troubleshooting 
You'll also learn how Photoshop's adjustment capabilities are essential and how they go way beyond what is available in Adobe Lightroom. By the end of class, you should feel proficient in the workings of this complex program. If you've been paying for Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography plan every month and only use Lightroom, then it's time to take full advantage of your investment by learning Photoshop.

Don't have Photoshop yet? Get it now so you can follow along with the course!


Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5

Reviews

Mary
 

Ben Willmore is exceptionally and intimately knowledgeable about Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, including Bridge and Camera Raw, and how they work together. He's also a wonderful photographer. That's great, but what's even better for us is that he's an incredible and generous teacher. He shares his knowledge and experience in an organized, thorough, thoughtful and relatable way. I envy his efficiency with words and ideas! He isolates hard-to-understand concepts - things we'd be unlikely to figure out on our own - and explains them in simple terms and with on point and memorable examples. I completely enjoy Ben's teaching methods and his personality. His admiration and appreciation of his wife, Karen, are telling of what a good guy he must be, and he's got just an overall pleasant personality. I love his amusement when something "ridiculous" happens during an edit! This bootcamp is fantastic and just what I need. It's only one of Ben's many CL classes that I've watched and learned from - they are all excellent. Thank you, Ben Willmore. (And Karen!)

Lynn Buente
 

I purchased this course ---SMART MOVE!--because, at 74, I learn more slowly and need more practice. While I've had some "novice" experience with PS, this course is moving me along in a totally different way. Most tutorials just tell you what to do. Ben tells you not only WHAT to do, but WHY (--or why not) and HOW. Understanding better can lead to using the practices in PS more fluently AND to greater freedom to be creative. I find Ben's approach to be kind of a "come as you are" session. No matter where you are on the learning spectrum, there is something to review, something new, or a brand new challenge. The relaxed manner of presentation is great, but doesn't minimize the content of the class. I appreciate the additional explanations and theory. These help to make total sense of the tools and practices of good editing. I would really recommend that, if possible, you purchase the course. The practice images, the homework, and the evolving workbook are great review and reference points. Personally, I have downloaded the classes by week so I can view, re-view, and stop, start, and repeat segments as often as I need to --which is often! Also, sometimes I like to view and work on one segment of the class at a time. My study of this course will be a LOT LONGER than four weeks, and I know I'll be referring to it as long as I'm a Photoshop user. Thanks, Ben! (And thanks to your wife for her contribution as well.)

Carol Senske
 

I've used PS for about five years in many of it's various versions. Learning on your won is a tough proposition, and I've struggled the whole time. Seeing work I admired and that inspired me to strive for great er things then not being ablr to figure out how to do them was a major frustration. The jargon was sometimes foreign, the complexity of the program overwhelming but I soldiered on and learned bits and pieces. A friend recommended Ben's course and I immediately came to CL to see what she was so thrilled about - I was amazed! Ben is down-to-earth, explains each step, gives shortcuts, defines terms, and shows how to accomplish what he's teaching. After two weeks I bought the class. I not only bought the Photoshop course but I added the Lightroom course as well. I'll do that, on my own, when things slow down a bit, and I have no doubt that course will help me even more than the PS course. I'm totally at sea with LR. I like Ben's teaching style, appreciate all the homework and extras included, and greatly appreciate the magnificent, easy to use, workbook by Ben's wife. I give my wholehearted endorsement for this course!