Skip to main content

Adobe Photoshop 101

Lesson 21 of 48

Layer Mask Composite


Adobe Photoshop 101

Lesson 21 of 48

Layer Mask Composite


Lesson Info

Layer Mask Composite

let's start creating some or composite images. Remember on the last composite we did one of a icebergs sitting there that had washed up on shore, and we had three versions of the eventually just varied in brightness, and we don't stacking them and then deleting away parts of each layer to reveal what was underneath. Now we're going to do something very similar to that. But we're gonna start using a layer mask instead of the eraser tool, and all that's going to do is a layer mask will temporarily hide something. But I can always bring it back at any time. And so it's a way of doing the Quinta deleting something, but make it not permanent. So here is a sequence of images that I shot when I was in Africa, and I'm going to try to choose at least two of these, but possibly Mawr, because I want to get a shot where I like the right and the left side of the photo. At the same time, he and so in this case I'm concentrating, possibly in the left side of the photo, first waiting until I get somet...

hing I like. But he's really not interested in me or whatever. So he's just going okay, Whenever and then I maybe I concentrated what's on the other side and hopefully get something there because the other guy, it just wasn't moving. And then I noticed the guy on the left looks good. So I shoot him now. There. I like his post. So I'm gonna use that shot for Yeah, not that one. Like that shot. Right. So that's one of the shots I'm going to use. I'm gonna mark that. I already did. You see a red label on it? If you want to put a red label, you just go up to the label menu. Before we had used ratings. But you also have labels. And down here you have those labels. And it really bothers me because one thing about this is the labels show up over here in color. But over here doesn't show you what color it's which I think is absolutely stupid. This should be read this 2nd 1 should be yellow. The 3rd 1 should be green. But why don't they tell you that in this menu is not just dumb design? I wish they'd show you. You can change the names of these, by the way, in your preferences, If you look in your preferences, you will find a section where you're able to change the names of these. So if you have particular uses, like maybe you want to flag every image that needs retouching because you don't do retouching someone else in your organization does. So you create a flag label for them called retouch. Then maybe you have something else where it needs some other function that you don't do as well. This one maybe need to print made to be put somewhere. So you assign one of these others to mark images that need prints, made that kind of thing so you can customize thes and your preferences. But they do show up his various colors. I just wish they would really tell me the colors within the menu, because otherwise you randomly choose see what color shows up. So why I flagged that one. I'll hit space bar against of unit. That's my left side. So now I don't have to worry about the left side cause I know I'm getting out of that picture and now let's look at the right side and see if we can get when we like. Now that one looks really cool on the right side cause this guy's hanging down all the stuff. They seem to be somewhat engaged. That's a possibility. That was kind of fun to on. See, I just gotta pick one. I don't like that one like that one where their combined, they kind of visually merge together there, so I don't like them. And so I'm just trying to pick out one that alike. I could always load them all into a photo shop file, but it's going to start looking complicated. We have a lot of layers that might not need. So I'm just gonna go over here and pick one of those that No, I don't like the little guy looking down that I don't like the merging together visually there, the emerging. Either that or maybe that. So I'm gonna mark that we'll have had when I happen to have marked previously. Do you see it in red? So I'll be that I'll select those two images. Now, remember, when selecting things Enbridge if you hold the shift key when you click on another picture, you get all the ones in between. If you don't want all the ones in between, you need to instead hold a command key, which is controlling windows that grabs individual once instead of everything in between. I'll choose tools Futter shop load files into Photoshopped layers. Of course, it thinks it's busy for some reason. I don't know why my version of photo shop always thinks that, but and now, if I hide the top layer to reveal the layer that's underneath, he tell that the camera has panned over between the two. So that's kind of like a panorama. I might select both of those layers. And if I want Photoshopped to deal with how toe line those up, Do you remember there was the choice called Otto a line layers and I could use auto or collage or reposition. Those three are usually ones that start with but auto. I'll try to see what we get now. We have the moved over like that so they would actually line up. Now what I need to do is take that top photo, and I want to hide parts of it to reveal what's underneath. What's underneath is the version I like down there. But I could just grab the eraser tool, and I could just a race away like this to reveal what's underneath. I could do that. The problem is, it's not easy for me to bring him back, especially if I want to do it next month after I closed the picture. So choose, undo. Here's what we're gonna do. Instead, I'm gonna go to the bottom of my layers panel and down there I'm going to click on this icon looks like a circle inside of a rectangle, and that's a layer mask icon. Now, when I click on it watching my layers panel, what happens to the top layer? Something's gonna be added to it. We just got added to that top layer is a layer mask. So if you ever see ah white rectangle attached to a layer, it's probably a layer mask. Now, when I paint, I can get paint to go, either on my picture, where it looks like paint, sitting it in my image or into the layer mask in the way Photoshopped decides where my paint is going to go when I grab my paintbrush is whatever has its corners bracketed or marked you notice. Here you can see the corners of these little brackets around them, and I can click back and forth between these two areas and it changes. Which one has the corners bracketed like that? And that's determining where the paint goes. So if it's over here and I paint, I'll see paint show up within my picture. If instead I have it here, the paint goes into the mask. And so I need to make sure the mask is active. Like that. Now, in a mask of the mask is white. It allows the later to show up, as it usually would, so white in a mask means show up. The opposite of that would be to introduce some black into that mask. So right now I have the paint brush tool active and my foreground color set the black before I paint. I just glance up here to double check that the corners of the mask are marked like that to indicate its active, because that's where my paints gonna go now, Anywhere where you put black in that mask, it's gonna hide the layer it's attached to. So here goes I'm painting with black when I let go of the mouse button, it will update the mask in my layers panel. It's just not updating interactive leaks. It would slow Photoshopped down, but I'm gonna release the mouse button now. Watch my layers panel and you see the black paint wind. So in a mask, black leaves layer alone. I'm sorry. White leaves the layer alone in black hides things some people like to say. White reveals black conceals. I personally don't think that way. I just don't like Raimi things that you do that to me. It's but some people like that. So I just brought it up. I just think of black hide stuff. Black it out, you know, whatever. But that does. The same thing is erasing things, except for it's not permanent. If you look the part that's hidden, it's still sitting here in my layers panel. I can still see it. If I hide the layer that's underneath, you'll see that we've taken that layer and hidden part of it, and as long as the corners layer mask are still highlighted, I can continue to paint on it right now. Hide mawr. I want to, but what's really nice is I can switch the color. I'm painting within paint with white, and if I do now, when I paint her, bring things back. That's how layer mass work. Switchback paint with black, and I can hide it again, and I just happen to have a layer underneath to fill in where you see the checkerboard, which ended up looking like that. Now I can see where I've painted because there's a brightness difference between the two photos on, if you can see it or not. But right here I can see a difference. There might have also been a focus point difference, or my aperture setting might have been different, because to me, this background looks more out of focus than this part right here. So I might want to be careful in here and switch what I'm paying with. Bring back more of the image, but I can't cause the guys air underneath that. Get in there, that kind of thing. I can try to select these two layers. Now let's see what happens if I use auto blend and see if it can make it seamless. It tried over here. I can think I can see a little bit of a line, but it did adjust these and everything in it modified my masks to see Let's make mawr or less of those layers show up often times I'll just choose. Undo. What could be better is when you're painting on a mask and you have an image like this one, you might want to use a really soft edged brush. Get the hardness setting of your brushes low as it goes. You can either do that by going up to the brush previewing your upper left and you're bringing hardness all the way down. Or you can do it using keyboard shortcuts. But doing so gotta paint with black, though it's gonna make the transition. They're so much more gradual. That's not gonna be some noticeable. And then just be careful with where it ends. So it feels like a natural spot for to end. So in this case, since the focus was a bit different that tried to end it where this Bush like thing was in the back. So you see all of the bush you don't see the bush transitioning to more out of focus. Instead, the more out of focus happens right with Bush ends. Um, all right now, the main thing I need to do to this image is to crop it, so I'll grab the crop tool. And with the crop tool, I'm gonna pull this in like so get rid of that areas that looked like a checkerboard and just kind of recompose. Now there's something I should mention about using the crop tool, and that is there will be an option of top of your screen, which will look like one of two things. It will either be an icon that looks like this where it'll be a check box that has text next to it. It depends on how big of a screen you're using. If you use a little bit of screen when we hook up to a projector like this, it's the equivalent to using a really small screen. It will be an icon to save space. If you use a big monitor, will usually have text next to it so that you don't have to try to interpret what an icon means any time there's an icon. If you can't sell what it means, just hover over it. And this means Germans. If pixel data outside the crop box is retained or deleted. So when that things turned on, it means throw away the stuff that is outside of my cropping rectangle. Get rid of it, whereas if that's turned off, it means just hide what's out there. But if I were to go back to the crop tool a second time, I could extend my cropping and get some of that back. It's up to you. If you think that stuff you'd ever want to bring back then you'd want that option turned off. I saw a press return or enter, and here we have our composite. So if I turn off the top layer, that's the entirety in for the most part of the layer that's underneath. We plop that back on top and used a mask to do it Mass. They're not permanent, so let's look at a couple things we could do with the mask that could be kind of cool. You can disable a layer mask temporarily, and all it means to show me everything that's in this layer is if I never deleted anything away, and the way you do that is you hold down the shift key on your keyboard and you click right on the mask in your layers panel. So right now I have shift held down, I'm gonna click on the mask and watch the image. When I do that, you see that rest of the layer came right back. And if you look in the layers panel, you see the big Red X through it that indicates it's disabled. Right now, it's not active to make it active again, I hold down the shift key again, and I click on the mask in my layers pound, and it turns it back on. So to disable him, ask you, hold down the shift key and click on it. It's a bunch of other things. You can do it. That mask, I'll say one other on my keyboard, right above the return or enter key is the backslash key, the one that leans towards the left, not the one that leans towards the right, the backslash key. If I press it all by itself, when I'm working on a layer that has a mask, watch what happens. It overlays the mask on top of my picture so I can tell where I've painted him where I haven't That could be really nice, because look at what I just noticed the bottom. Do you notice where I didn't use a soft edged brush down there? That might be an area I need to inspect because it might be obvious that I didn't use a soft edged brush there, and therefore I might see an obvious transition. But I wouldn't have noticed that because I was in a hurry. And I was just gonna close this picture and be done with it. Does that make sense? But using the overlay, help me to inspect what I've done to see if there's any areas I might want to check up on. All I did is hit the backslash key all by itself, not command. Backslash just backs. Watched by itself. A press it a second time to turn it off. And now look down there and inspect that area. You can paint, Will. That overlay is on by the way things grab. My brush should have a soft edge. Feel free to paint when it's on. Doesn't matter. Maybe I want to fill in this part back here, just in case there was part of the picture back there I think the picture ended before that Part of the the image I can continue pay now. Okay, I'm gonna hit back slash again to turn that off. So you shift, click on it to disable it. Shift click again. It turned back on. And you Ah, do the backslash key. The one that's right above the returner enter, at least on a Mac, the one that leans towards the left, not the one that leans towards the right slash Keith. And then when I want, when I'm down at you, save as then I just use a file format that supports layers, usually for me tiff. But Photoshopped file format is fine. If you're used to using Photoshopped file format, there's technically no reason not to. If you happen to run into file size limit where it says a is is too big. Switch to tiff if you run into it. Even with Tiff switched to the one called, I think its large document format, whatever the choices directly below the choice called Photo Shop is the really big one. The problem is, if you when you go to that particular file format, it's not compatible with anything other than photo shop, so it's limited what you can do with it. Then let's open one that's already been done, and let's just look at it, because sometimes you're gonna open old documents and you might need to rework him because maybe you make a print and you notice a problem in the print like I can see a weird thing over here. And it might have been where you're painting on a mask and you didn't have a soft enough brush needed to blend in and you could see the edge. So here's one that's already been done, and let's see if we can find out what's going on with it. I'm gonna first hide the top layer that's going to reveal what's at the bottom. So there's our bottom one. Then I'll turn on the layer above, and you can see what it's doing. Thank you. That's what he's doing. We have a mask attached to it Over here. I could disable the masked by holding shift and clicking, and I'm going to see all of what's in that top layer. And then I could press the backslash key to inspect what's there and look at that hard edge brush that was used. That means it might be very easy if there's any difference in brightness or any difference in focus or depth of field between those shots. It's probably easy to see where that is, so I might want to come in here with a softer edge brush and I could paint with white and just kind of get into that. Be less obvious. If I go too far over here, I'll just switch over and paint with black. Get that back. Just trying to get a soft edge appearance there so that it's gonna be less obvious where the transition is now. I'm very frequently switched between paying with black and paying with white black hides, white shows. So if you look down when your foreground and background colors are, there's a couple things you might want to know. First off, if your foreground color was not already black, let's say it was a shade of gray. That could be a problem, because that means we're halfway between black and white. That means have it partially show up. It's not gonna fully show up. So first there's an icon right here, which means reset these through the defaults, and there's keyboard shortcut for that icon. It's the letter D all by itself. D for default. So sometimes I hit the letter D when I noticed my foreground and background. Colors are not black or white, and I need them to be d does that. Then there's a little double arrow and that switches the two colors in the keyboard. Shortcut for that is Letter X to exchange the two colors. I use those all the time, so I might be in here, and I'm painting with Black to get this into here. Oh, that's too far because I saw a little piece of the other image show up. So I had X to say no. I wanted to paint with the other one to fix it, So D for default x for exchange are things that he used all the time. And then remember, the backslash key is what gave me that red overlying. I just hit the backslash key a second time, and I can get it back. You can have a layer mask and every layer, except for one. If you have a layer that's called background, then the layer called background will have a lock symbol on the right side of it. It means that certain features can be used with it. For instance, those layer styles like drop shadow and stroke. You can't put those on the background. And in most versions of photo shop, you can't add a layer mask to the background, but you don't have to have a background. If you double click on the name, you could type in something different. Lock symbol would go away, and now it's normal layer that could do anything with you can add layer styles had later mass. Whatever you'd like. Here's a more complex image. If you look at my layers panel, we've got a bunch of stuff in there. There's some stuff in here we haven't talked about yet, but I'm Inter. Turn off the eyeballs. You can just drag down the column where the eyeballs show up to turn off more than one at a time, and I just have the bottom one turned out. So here's our bottom or base image, and then I'm just gonna turn on the image that's above it. That's some grass just to cover up one of those guys that's copied from a different picture or whatever. We'll learn how to do that kind of stuff when we do retouching on top of that, I got them antlers to go there. There's a mask attached to those antlers. If I hit the backslash key, do you see how it's very precisely? Put around those antlers because if you just randomly put grass on grass, the to blend together and it doesn't look right, And, uh, I needed to make it more precise. If I turn this off by holding the shift key and clicking on it, you see, that's the whole picture. And I only use that one little park, that little thing. And let's just put a couple of the things in here. So when that was put in, the next thing it's above it is something haven't talked about yet. But it's an adjustment layer, and it's adjusting the color of the antler. Can you see the color change? When I turned on and off? It's becoming more colorful, that type of thing top of that. We got a replacement for those antlers. I found a better version. He has had a different angle and we have a mask. If I do backslash. There's the mask, and then there's an adjustment layer to adjust. Its appearance will talk about adjustment layers very soon. Then we come up further. Do you see this dark grass right here? To me, that's a distraction on the edge of my frame. I don't want anything in the edge of my friend distracting me so copies and grass from somewhere else put it in. There also got rid of those little bright parts because your eyes directed to bright or colorful things. So if there's anything bright in your image, it doesn't have to be there. Think about retouching, it outs your eye doesn't look at it. Above that are some adjustments we haven't talked about adjustment layers and depth yet, but these are adjusting my picture. Do you see in the upper right? That's just tuning some things in. This is darkening the edge, and this is making the bottom of the image more green. But you see how that's all built up in layers. Layers are looking pretty complicated, though, so we got to get used to more features before we can get to this kind of a composite. So oftentimes you'll get your layers panel to start looking kind of complex. But if you learn the individual features one of the time, then it's not so bad right now. What I notice is, ah, bunch of layer masks. Any time you see a little rectangle to the right of a layer, it's a layer mask in know that layer mass limit or something shows up wherever there's black in the mask. Whatever it's attached to isn't showing up. You can hit back slash to see what part of the picture that is that type of stuff. All right, before I move on now and we start learning about things like adjustment layers, we had a question. You still have one. I noticed you got quite a tight paint on that middle antler when you did it. Is there a snap to image feature in Adobe that lets you get that close? There are some features that will help you get that close, meaning I didn't necessarily paint that manually by hand. We haven't talked yet about selections, and if I were to make a selection first of those antlers, then when I add a layer mask, the selection that I have gets converted to a layer mask into. There are some selection tools that can kind of cling to the edges of things, and that can really help us out. And so we should end up looking at house elections work and how they relate to masks, and we'll do that.

Class Description

Adobe® Photoshop® lets you bring out the best in your photographs – learn how to navigate the powerful software in Adobe Photoshop 101 with Ben Willmore.

Ben will show you how to use the most important features of Adobe Photoshop by working through common, real-world projects and explaining the process. You’ll get to know the Adobe Photoshop interface and learn about the features you’ll use the most. 

Ben will teach you how to:

  • Enhance hair, eyes, and lips in portraits
  • Merge multiple images into a panorama
  • Fix bright reflections on glasses and closed eyes in a group shot
  • Correct photos that are under or overexposed
  • Create a collage of multiple images

You’ll learn how layers, selections, masks, and filters help you make a great image and find out why resolution, file formats, and color profiles matter. Ben will break down commonly-heard technical jargon so you know what others are saying and you’ll learn keyboard commands that will make your work easier.

By the end this class you’ll be confident and comfortable working in Adobe Photoshop and know how to troubleshoot when problems arise. 

This course is part of the Photoshop Tutorials series

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2014


a Creativelive Student

Ben, thanks again for this course. I have taken and purchased quite a few of your courses to date. I keep thinking I will only watch to make sure I am on the right track and you always bring more to the table than the last course. Your teaching methods are the best, sorry to all the other instructors from Creative Live, but you are very easy to understand and you speak in layman's terms so we all can understand. I am following your instructions and working along with your files and it is the best! It is hard to keep up with you even when I watch you on one computer and work with the same files on another computer, to do what you are doing...impossible but I gain so much by trying. You provide so much info on each topic, it is amazing. Thanks to Karen for the PDFs, she does a fantastic job and also, for her templates/layout documents. Thanks again and to anyone who thinks this is too much money for all the videos, the exercise files and the instruction PDF, I am sorry to say but you are mistaken.

John Taylor

Like all of the Creative Live courses, excellent training. Ben does a great job of explaining the entry part of Photoshop. A lot of things cleared up in my head and i like his easy pace into this complex program. Thanks Ben.


Ben, A note of thanks for a fabulous 3 day tutorial on Photoshop. I am new to CreativeLive site and just happen to stumble across your Photoshop 101 class online, wow I'm I glad I did. I've wanted to learn to navigate Photoshop for sometime but found myself becoming more and more confused and frustrated watching video instruction and reading various articles online. You have simplified the learning process by making the class material clear and concise; after 3 days I came away with a great foundation to build on in the future. Thank you!