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Add a Mask

Lesson 3 from: Layer Masks for Beginners

Dave Cross

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Lesson Info

3. Add a Mask

Lesson Info

Add a Mask

the very bottom of the layers panel. The third icon in is the add a mask button when you click on it. It adds this second thumbnail, and this is really the biggest confusion initially for people is once you have a layer mask, now there's two different things. You have to worry about the layer itself and the mask, and it's kind of hard to see. But if we zoom in a bit, you can see that the mask has like a little extra border around it. That's the only way you know the mask is active now. The layer is active, so if I want to paint on her dress, not that I would. But if I needed Teoh, I need to make sure the layer is active. If I want a temporarily hide part of layer, then I click on the mask. And that's the one of the biggest things that takes people a bit of getting used to, because you have to think before you just start painting. Wait, do I want toe a my working on the layer or the mask? And like with anything in Photoshopped, the answer is it depends. What is that you want to do? Do y...

ou want to hide or mask part of the layer that make sure on the mass thumbnail? If you're trying to adjust the actual layer itself in some way, then you want to make sure you're on that thumbnail. So basically, the way this works. If we look at it by holding down option all 10 clicking, it's just a big piece of white. And the way a mask works is white means reveal all. So by default, unless you do something different, Ah, layer mask will be added in this mode called Reveal All, which means at this point there is actually no benefit. If I stopped right there, then there's no benefit to using it, because we now have to add paint to it to decide what parts we want to show what parts will want to hide. So everything that's white is visible, so that means if I take my brush tool is tapped the letter B for my brush tool. I just need to make some setting change to make sure I'm in normal mode and 100% opacity. Let's make our brush. It'll bigger again. So as I'm painting At first it's gonna look like the same end result because it's look like I'm erasing and I'll go do the same thing of deleting or racing part of her bottom part of her legs and everything. But if you look in the layers panel, you can see now there's this big black blob, and is that black that's hiding temporarily? So that's the big difference is we use the terminology hide versus delete. When something's deleted or erased, it's gone. Those pixels have disappeared forever unless you undo right away, whereas with a layer mask you paint with black, it means OK, so for now it's hidden. So in that same scenario, if I take my free transform and I start to scale down and I still realize, Oops, I have a problem because I can't see the middle of her legs. Unlike the first example where I was stuck in here, I just have to think how a mask works. Black hides white shows. So I do is take my paintbrush, swap my for one color the white and just show the part that was hidden before and I look up here and I so I can see some parts that don't look good, so go back and switched to black again and mask out these areas so they blend in a little better. So in a nutshell, that's really what Layer master all about is the ability to have that kind of control, where, as you're experimenting, you can try something, knowing that later on you can change your mind. This is really important, because by nature, photo shop is a very linear program, meaning you do one to you to five steps like paint filter. You know, whatever it ISS 12345 and then you have the ability to undo our step backwards. 54321 But if you added, say you're race something on Step three and then more steps, you can't just go back to that middle step and say, Undo the erase. You have to undo all that other stuff first, whereas a layer mask. It takes away the linear nature of photo shop because I could do 20 more steps and then click on my mask and decided wanted painted differently. So it's an ongoing. It's almost like it's not really, but you could think of it as unlimited. Undo. Because you're never throwing anything away. You're just hiding it temporarily. So the couple things we need to be aware of Here it is white. Let me go back and make sure step backwards. Okay, so let's look at the layer maths now by optional clicking on it and look at the mass you can see there's black, but there's also gray and white, so black hides things completely. White shows things completely gray to use. The technical term is kinda. That's kind of see through kind of not depending on the level of grey, so a very dark gray will be almost entirely hidden. Ivory, light grey will be mostly visible, so it's almost like a sliding scale. So, for example, when I picked my paintbrush, I knew that I was using a brush that had a soft edge. Will. A soft edge in Photoshopped means it introduces some gray. So let me just show you what I mean. If I took a regular brush here and painted, you would see I get a very hard edge. Doesn't look very good if I go to a soft edged brush that it automatically see how the edges of it are softer, and a lot of the time you want that I won't say all the time because it depends on the situation. If you're tryingto gradually blend something into the layers below, then you probably want a soft edged brush. If you're trying to make it look like a person has been cut out of one photo and just write to their edge, then you probably don't want that edge to be have that softest in it. So for a lot of things info shop and this is no exception. It's always that well, it depends where you trying to do. So as you're working, you have a couple of options. If you wanted to show or hide completely, you just make sure you have black or white as your foreground color. If I wanted to. For some reason, not this would make any sense in this case. But if I wanted to semi hide her legs for whatever reason, I would lower the opacity of my paintbrush, which in effect means now I'm painting with great you can see now, instead of disappearing completely, they're partially hidden. And if again, if we look a layer mask, you see? Well, now there's gray on there. So if you ever open a document you created months ago and you're like, I'm not sure where I'm at here, one of the first things I would do is look more closely at the layer mask. And I would help remind you Oh, yes, I painted with that can see very clearly what's happening. It also tells me, for example, at the top up here where it's a very dark gray. Realistically, I probably want that to be black, because if I'm trying to really hide the top of this photo mean they kind of blend in because they're very similar. But if they weren't say the background was blue, you would notice a little bit of that original photo. So sometimes it also helps you just to look at the layer mask to go. So I missed the whole area there. I need that to be black instead of gray or something like that. So the more you work with it, the more it starts to make sense as to what the different shades of gray. Now, some people like to use a little rhyming reminders like black conceals and white reveals. I'm not one of them, but some people I just think black hides white shows that doesn't rhyme, but that's just the way it works, and Gray is kind of so if you just remember that, that's the important thing.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Layer Masks Workbook

Ratings and Reviews


Dave Cross is a superb teacher and this is a superb class. Very clear explanations, well organized, and the demonstrations are spot on. I thought that I already understood masking but really I had just scratched the surface of the topic. Learned a lot of useful techniques. Thanks Dave!

a Creativelive Student

Dave is an amazing instructor and even though this is for beginners he takes you to intermediate. Amazing class learned and learned. Thank you!!!

Tony Walker

Enjoyed the course. Now that I am of an age where I tend to forget more than I remember having this course will help when I want to mask something. I can always come back to a specific video for a reminder. How many folks out there follow a tutorial and think great, then a week later you go back and say how on earth did I do that. Having access to this course is great especially if you are not photoshopping everyday.

Student Work