Layer Masking Basics

Lesson 2 of 7

Refining Masks


Layer Masking Basics

Lesson 2 of 7

Refining Masks


Lesson Info

Refining Masks

I'm gonna jump over to another file here, going to go back to my orange, and I decide that at this point, I don't want one of my leaves on here, okay? And I could go back and I could start over I could just simply right click and delete my layer mask and start all over. I want if I wanted to, but I think I'm gonna continue on I already have my mask and I'd like to then just mask out one of the other leaves just wanted to go so one in dealing with the mask is nothing more than a black and white image. A mask is just simply black and white. Black conceals white reveals so I can paint on this. I can edit this just like I would a normal black and white image, so I'm gonna click on my mask and this is the important difference between clicking on my image thumbnail or my layer, because I think, ok, I'm going to go in, I'm gonna paint on my mask if I painted black, I'm going to be able to hide those things if I painted white him to be able to show those things, but I inadvertently forget to c...

lick on my mask and I go over to my paintbrush here to get a really big brush and I begin to paint and I am painting directly on my object because I had for gotten and selected by image thumbnail, not what I want to dio if I click on my mask, one of the telltale signs is you can never paint on a mask with a color masks are only black and white, so if you click on something and you see a color here in your color picker and you're painting, you know you're not in your basket dead giveaway ok, so if I click on my mask, you'll see it automatically reverts to black and white. And of course, if I paint with white it's going to reveal if I point with black it's going to conceal quick little shortcut, you're going to use this all the time with masking if you just hit x, itjust swaps back and forth between the black and the white phil so that you don't have to stop and use a little arrow here to swap back and forth. We just do that very simply, something to choose my black I have my brush, I can get just the size of my brush using the writer left brackets here, I've got my mask selected, and I can then go and paint over the portion of which I don't want now, most people would say, oh, you're just erasing no we're not erasing it's still there on the image, and I can prove it to you it's still there when he turned the mask off by shift clicking, but it is still there, and I could go in assuming here and go back and use that down, and I can get rid of all that or give the appearance of that. And of course, you know, a spotlight. There we go, and I've just mask out that leaf simple is that by painting directly on that mask, so super handy to have there it is now, if I want to get that leaf back it's a little bit more tricky, because if I go back and of course, painted white that I'm going to get the entire background as well, because if I painted white, I get everything back because I started off with this election. Now sometimes people get a little happy with their masks. At first, I'm just gonna go back, and I'm gonna delete this layer mask completely, and they forget, and they have nothing selected to begin with. So they go in and they click on their layer mask thinking something's going to happen, and they d'oh and they get this layer mask that's all white. And they're like what's going on? Well, nothing was selected because what's inside this elections what we're going to see it is going to be white what's outside this election is left behind so then they inadvertently go in and they said I would apply another mask to it. Well, this gets kind of weird, so here is the advanced level masking here this is our raster based mask, which we were just talking about black and white pixels we can paint in her out. This is our vector based mask, which then introduces a whole different world of things. So when I say we can't apply more than one mass to an object, we really can't apply more than one pixel based mask so people click and click and they're just like, oh, I'm just gonna get mask upon mask no, not really ok, so when you get this, you can just right click and you can see I can delete this a vector mask and then this is a layer mask two totally different things. We're not going to get into the best vector mask portion today. We're going to do that a few days from now when I teach the pen tool in shape players that's when it comes in, so if you do find yourself clicking multiple times and getting multiple masks that's just something to be careful of but if you forget to go ahead and have a selection active at first you can always undo that mask go in and grab your selection and then apply your mask and everything's fine and dandy right now because we have a layer here with a mask on there there's certain files that will and won't support a layer mask jay pegs won't support a layer mask before you go into the final menu choose save as I can go and I can see that anything that supports layers here is going to support a layer mask when I go in and I choose ajay peg one of the problems is j pegs don't support transparency, so I can't have a transparent background, which is the whole point of doing the layer bask that I have the ability to put things in front of her behind that won't work and you'll see is I go and save a j peg the layers are not selectable and it saves it has a copy, so generally when we do anything with layer mask we're going to save it is a photoshopped file which is going to save all those masks and everything with it so that's what we have for the basics of layer masks going in simply masking out a portion of an area so that we can then take that and compose with other images and have that work with the other images that's just the very basics, so there it is now, other places what we're going to go in and we're going to use a layer mask it's not just for going in and getting rid of portions of the image there, but it's also for protecting other portions of the image so I could go in very easily and I could mask out the sky so I could put a different sky in here and that's great, because then if I wanted by orange floating through this guy, I could do that and if you'd like, I will, but we've already seen at the statue of liberty, so what I'm going to do here with masks here is I'm not going to use this to go ahead and hide something. I'm going to use it to isolate something, and when I go in, I'd like to go and I would like to bring back some of these shadows here, which is another class I'm going to teach about exposure. I would like to bring nose up a bit because it's a little bit dark right there, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to go and I'm going to put a selection around those areas so that I can color adjust those areas, so I'm going to go in and I'm just going to do a very loose selection and thankfully this isn't a class on selection so I don't have to do them perfectly my selections class ideo so I'm going to do just a very loose selection I'm going to go over these areas that I would like to go in and work with and then just kind of select these few things there we g o I ends going to go under modify and I'm going to feather this so I don't have a hard edge selection around my object right there if I were to go in and do any color adjustment on this, I would end up adjusting directly on my image so when I say just directly on my image once I'm done I've destructively edited this image and anything that I do after this I would have to undo to undo any of my color adjusting so I go in I do some levels or curves I make it all look good kind of and I'm done if I save this file there's no recourse whatsoever and I don't want to do that I want to protect that so that I can do nondestructive editing well masks they're going to come in just like we did with knocking out backgrounds were going to use a mask in a slightly different way and what this mask is going to be for is this going to be for image adjustment so I can you just write on my image and destroy it or I congratulate a selection and aiken go under my layer adjustments here, which I can then create a new layer adjustment, and many of you are familiar with going in and adjusting directly on the image of going to the image menu and do adjustments directly on the image, but what I'm going to do is I'm going to create a layer hence the layer mask, and I'm going to create a layer, which is going to be an adjustment layer on top, which is completely editable, and I'm going to go in here and I'm going to adjust and I call up my new layers, my new layer adjustment here, and I'll get this out of the way and you'll see there is my adjustment layer and my selection true to form, whatever I had inside this election is what I can see. What everything is outside this election is what I can't see, but in this case, what I'm doing is I'm creating a window of which I'm going to adjust through. Okay, so it's very much like exposing through a camera it's only going to expose where the camera can see who cover something up on the camera can expose through there same concept, so ever look at my mask, black conceals white reveals, so the adjustment is going toe on ly happen through the white portion. So as I go with my properties panel and I decide to lighten that or dark in that overall, you can see that I can do that without affecting any other portion of the image, and when I'm done, I can continue on working on my image, and I can always go back at a later time today, tomorrow, six weeks from now, and I can go back in and I can and at that image on aiken double click on there and I can begin to adjust, and I can see just how much I've adjusted. I'm going over adjusted at this point because I noticed that I have included too much area around the tree in the form of adjustment guess what? I've got a mask I can go in here, and I can fully edit this mask to include areas that I want to have adjusted or it can exclude those areas again. I can click on my mask right here, and if I really want to see where it is, which helps a little bit more and when he used by forward slash and I can see the red area is everything that I was not being affected, and this really helps. For people to see this and I can actually paint while I'm in this preview boat here so I can physically see once you get used to this, you get used to layer masking and you realize that what you're doing is completely invisible and it just makes everybody like cell impressed when you know what you're doing so what I'm gonna do is just turning the preview on here with my forward slash I'm going to go in with my paintbrush and I'm going to paint with black black is going to conceal and I can go through here with a softer brush obviously and I could go in with that soft brush and I could kind of paint around my tree and that's going to help me cut out those areas so that I don't get is much adjustment around those areas so I turn that off and I'm doing this and I paint in there let's see paint black so it's going to hide those areas you can see that I'm basically covering up those areas so the exposure is not going through that mask or that window any time I want to see how this is working I can always go in and turn on my shifty that's affecting the entire image now overall because there is no mask so with that off it's affecting everything down here and with that mask applied I can see pretty awesome so, that's. Another reason why we use masks, and we use layer masks all the time for adjustment. Super handy to have. What I like about this is that you can always go back in and infinitely edit and it's like, oh, that trees to dark. Well, if I go back in and I start painting and white, I start to them. Allow more of the adjustment through really quite handy. Not bad, huh?

Class Description

Layer masks are one of Photoshop’s most essential features – in Layer Masking Basics Jason Hoppe will show you how to use them to make your images even more jaw-dropping.

Join Jason to explore the ways layer masks let you isolate and protect parts of an image as you apply color changes, filters, or layer effects to the rest of the image. You’ll learn how to turn layer masks on and off and how to edit and hide them. You’ll also learn about the advantages layer masks have over the Eraser tool and duplicate image layers. Jason will also introduce you to more sophisticated concepts like layer clipping masks.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2014.2.2


  1. Intro to Masking

    Find out what layer masks are used for and how you can use masks for non-destructive editing.

  2. Refining Masks
  3. Additional Selections
  4. Controlling Attributions of Masks
  5. Painting a Layer Mask
  6. Using Gradients with Masks
  7. Layer Clipping


nancy marckus

excellent, well thought out presentation. practical and creative how-to processes. Jason has a wonderful presentation style


Excellent coverage of Layer Masks. It's a little harder to follow but totally worth the content. Clearly a more advanced and thorough introduction than some of the more basic Layer Mask courses available on this site.

Aussie David

A great short course on masks and bacon - what's not to like right there!