Layer Mask Basics
All right, so let's, take a look at some of those basics. We already talked a little bit about the basics of layer masking but let's get just a little bit more detailed a little bit more involved in some of the various options that are available to us when it comes to layering these images and manipulating things a little bit. So I have in this case obviously a photo of the flat iron building that layer has called been called, appropriately enough flat iron building I like to name my layers to avoid any confusion down the road especially you know, these thumbnails air kind of small and it could be helpful just to see the name and oh yes that's the layer I want versus some other layer with time with certain images you can get to the point we have lots and lots of layers going on so I can get to be a little bit confusing so I find renaming the lakers could be very, very helpful if you want to rename a lair let's say that I've got this clouds this is without the sunburst justice cloudy sk...
y maybe want to call that cloudy sky just cause I think that's a little more clear to rename any layer you could just simply double click on the name for the layer I should probably spill cloudy correctly so cloudy sky just type that new name press enter or return on the keyboard and that name change will be applied now what if I decide I want to change the order of those layers so much? I like to have the foreground in the foreground the background in the background in other words, the foreground on top, the background underneath it. What if I had these in the wrong order or what? If you like to do it a different way and you want to switch it no problem at all. We can reorder these layers at any time. I can simply drag the thumbnail for either of those layers up or down as needed, so I'm gonna click on my cloudy sky, layer the thumbnail for that layer, click and drag and then you'll notice when I get up to just the right positions you know there's a little bar across the top of that flatiron building layer near the top of the layers panel you can see it kind of gets that highlight bar that indicates that if I release the mouse right now, that is where this layer will go and sure enough, release the mouse and the letter goes into that opposition obviously I could drag it down word there's that highlight bar down below the flat iron building later so I could reorder those layers obviously when it's just two layers super super simple it could be a little bit tricky sometimes you've got lots of layers or if you've got so many layers that you're having to scroll along that list and you've got to get to just the right position but the point is that we're able to adjust the order of those layers to our liking so I then want to hide or reveal specific pixels for the image lair and that requires the use of a layer mask or involves the use of a leather mask generally speaking at least and so how much I go about that well conceptually I want to block parts of the cloudy sky to reveal parts of the flat iron building so I could add a layer mask to this layer right? No, I mean I can but it would be not the right way to approach it in this case it's going to go through that exercise just to get a better a better understanding of how these things are working I'm going to click on this circle inside of a square icon the adler mask button down to the bottom of the layers panel because my cloudy sky layer is the active layer you can see that it's highlighted we get these little crop corners around the thumbnail that is the active layer therefore when I add a layer mask to that image layer the layer mascot he added directly to that selected layer if I'm not sure which layer is currently selected I could just click the thumbnail to make it the active layer we'll go and then add that layer mask and now I want to block pixels so I choose my brush tool with the letter b on the keyboard and I paint with black the block will talk more about this in just a moment and there we go I am blocking the sky from the flat iron buildings that you cannot see the sky over the flat iron building it magically disappeared except it didn't why not did I actually hide pixels from the sky? Yes I did so why is it not revealing the building? Because remember that analogy of those four by six prints my flatiron building is sitting on top of my sky layer my sky photo I took a pair of scissors to the sky image and cut out that triangular shape except that print is still sitting underneath the different print so I might have cut it up but I can't see it I would need to have that sky layer on top so when it comes to composite image is the order of the layers is actually critically important because we're hiding or revealing individual pixels on individual layers and now in the sky layer I'm revealing nothing it's absolutely nothing in the shape of the flat iron building but it's still absolutely nothing how can I fix that a variety of different ways let's take a look actually a couple of those ways just to get a better understanding of how these layer masks operate the easiest and perhaps most obvious approach would be to simply take my sky layer and drag it upward in that layer stack so that the sky layer is now on top so now I've got the sky on top with a triangle cut out of it for the flatiron building fabulous that's one way that I could have approached it obviously in this case revealing what a bad job I did on painting that layer mask too soft brush etcetera but we're not going to worry about that for the moment let's take a look at the other approach we could have taken basically what I did here is created a layer mask on the wrong layer right? I made a layer masking the right basic shape I did it on the wrong layer theoretically I mean, obviously I could just change the order of the layers as well. Well, so I could delete this layer mask make a new layer mask, start painting again but I'm way too lazy for all that work, so instead I'm simply going to transfer this layer mask to the flat iron building layers so I've made a layer mask for my sky I'm just going to transfer to the flat iron building that will fix everything because now I'm applying a layer mask the top most layer revealing stuff underneath it sounds like a wonderful plan, doesn't it? It's a half wonderful plan as it turns out, if I drag that thumbnail for the layer mask and just drop it onto the flatiron building layer sure enough, my layer mask gets transferred to the other image and what on earth have I done now? Now I have a clear sky blended with cloudy sky in the shape of the flat iron building it sounds like art, but it looks just ridiculous doesn't it? So obviously not the effect that was going for because I was painting on the quote unquote wrong layer that could've been fined if I changed the layer order as we already saw, but I can also move this layer mask to a different layer seems like I've just made a huge mess for myself, but actually it's not so bad it's just that this layer mask now because it's for the opposite image as it were, the layer mask itself has the opposite shape of what I wanted or the inverted shape compared to what I wanted. And so instead of trying to start all over reordering my layers, I'll just invert this layer mask so I'll go up to the image like image menu choose adjustments followed by invert I could also use keyboard shortcut control on windows command I on macintosh and now we've got things looking pretty good though than the fact that my painting wasn't all that great but let's take a step back now and think about all the things that we've done here now if you're familiar with targeted adjustments, then you certainly already know the concepts related to a layer mass but let's just go through the various issues that are at play here. First off, once again we have those two image layers I've got the cloudy sky layer below and the flat iron building above, and so those two are just stacked one on top of each other initially, as we saw, the flatiron building is just covering up the sky below so I can't see that skylar at all, but then I've used a layer mask and more specifically let's take a look at the actual layer mask itself. I have a layer mask that is black for the background and white for the building so black for the sky in this case white for the flatiron building and so that is revealing the flatiron building and blocking the sky so again that layer mask is just a stencil it is just saying show these pixels hide those pixels show the flat iron building hide the sky because in this case we have a very dreary sky for the flatiron building and we want to replace it with a more dramatic sky and so we're just saying, reveal the flat iron building, but hide the sky so block the sky black blocks reveal the flat iron building white reveals black blocs, white reveals show me the building, don't show me the sky and what will we reveal underneath whatever's underneath that could be any number of things in this case, it happens to be a cloudy sky layer. I'm going to also actually just add another layer and let's, long as we're being just completely ridiculous, let's make an interesting looking sunset effect. I'm going to use the grady in't tool to add a wonderful, very obviously natural looking sunset in the background. So now here's, the original image when I block the sky and reveal the flatiron building, what am I reviewing? Whatever happens to be underneath at the moment and absurd grady and background, I can turn that layer off and I can see my sky. I could bring a different image in if oh, this guy's not really working, I need a thunderstorm clouds or I want a rainy sky, whatever it might be, I can mix and match anything I want. So again, that layer mask is just blocking or revealing, based on the layer it's attached to so, in this case, blocking or revealing based on on ly the flat iron building layer so I'm blocking the sky revealing the building itself whatever happens to be underneath is what gets revealed underneath so I'm blocking the sky from this layer and revealing whatever is there sometimes that might be nothingness so here is how photoshopped shows you nothing this it is the grid pattern that checkerboard pattern that indicates transparency or missing pixels altogether it could be some grady in't layer that you made it could be some other image layer could be anything you can imagine and that's one of things I love about composite image ing in photo shop if you can imagine it you can make it the first part is figuring out some crazy cool thing that you can imagine and that's oftentimes the hardest part of course the other part of that is actually making it happen in photoshopped that could be a little tricky you can take a lot of work, but once you have these fundamentals which we're obviously just getting started with here then you can start assembling all these wild and crazy ideas all you do is think of it and understand these basic concepts related to layer masking and you'll be able to create those composite images like something amazing like this if you'd like to buy a copy of this image will be selling twenty by thirty inch limited edition prints in the hallway anybody no I didn't think so