Layer Masks


Adobe® Photoshop®: Retouching and Collage


Lesson Info

Layer Masks

Ah a layer mask is is going to be a wave of hiding a portion of a layer so let's grab a couple layers and see if we can combine some things together I'm going to grab this as my backdrop our base image and I'm going to grab this because I want him driving down the road so I'm going to select both of those images and instead of opening them individually and either copying and pasting between documents or dragging and dropping all instead go appear to the tools menu in bridge I'll choose photo shop and there's a choice in here called load files into photoshopped layers and that's just going to open the images and I'll end up with one layer for each image. If I had five images, I'd have a five layer document you could do a similar thing from light room by going to the photo menu choosing edit in and in the section of choices for photo shop related stuff. I don't remember the wording but it will be something like load in the layers and photoshopped something like that now I want to remove ...

the background on this trailer and car and I want to, uh keep the shadow somehow so what I'll do is use the quick selection tool and I'm not going to make absolutely precise selections here we talked about selections in a different course the one called advanced masking so all just briefly talk about him, but I'm not going to spend too much time to detail exactly how I'd select everything. But here with a quick selection tool, I'm simply going to paint across this, and one tip about using the quick selection tool is it will work faster if you have a check box at the top of your screen. That's called auto enhance turned off, meaning that it's not going to try to be the absolute most precise on this edge, uh, to start with, but the auto enhance check box would be helpful in getting a higher quality selection. So what I can end up doing to cheat is get the front of this car in there, I'll make my selection and then when I'm done all turn on auto enhance and I'll click on an area that's already selected just going to look right here and that's going to cause it to auto enhance the entirety of this election. It just didn't do it on every little paint stroke it had it all together at the end, and that can speed up how fast it thinks about your image. Now I actually didn't want the shadow in here with this, you could either go to the top left of your screen. And click on the icon that's got the minus sign next to it to have it take away from your selection or refused to keyboard shortcuts you could hold down the option key which would temporarily uh make that option active for just like the time you have the option he held down that's all time windows so I can hold that down and click down here where the shadow was try to get it out of the selection all right now I'm gonna add a lair mask whenever you have a selection active and you add a layer mask it's going to convert the selection into the mask and it's going to assume that you would like to hide all the areas that are not selected so got the top player active my selections active click on the layer mask icon the bottom of my laters panel so when it looks like a circle inside of a rectangle that suddenly hid the rest of the image and therefore revealed anything that was underneath if you had any layers under there I'm going to hide that layer that's underneath and so here's what we have a car what I really would like though is not only the car on the trailer I would like to also have the shadows that would be underneath there so you get the shadows I'm going to duplicate this layer that contains the car I can do that by timing command jay and then on that one I could just take the mask for now and throw it away it'll ask me do I want to apply it if I choose a plywood permanently delete the areas that are hidden or do I want to really I'm sorry if I will yeah apply or delete is going to just delete the mask bringing everything back now I'm going to try to select the shadows since the shadows are pretty basic I don't care if any part of the car shows up in this election or not I just want to make sure I got the shadowy areas I'll extend a little bit into the car and I'm gonna also add a mask using that so now we have our shadow I have missed two separate layers because on that layer below I might want to blur it I might want to soften the edge I might want to use a blending mode to have it control how it combines with what's underneath and I don't want that blurring or blending motor anything else to affect the car itself that's why the cars in a separate layer? I'll turn on that layer we had earlier of our backdrop and I'm going to take these two layers select them both and this is where I would most likely link them because if I move one move the car I need that shattered a move with it that way I'm not going to have to worry about it if I move one layer, the other layer will move along with it and weaken position this where we'd like I can also come up here in transform it, try to get it approximately where you might like it problem right now is our shadows have grass growing out of them and they have the wrong texture they don't combine with what's underneath in this photo we needed to start somewhere I want to get rid of this empty space it's over here one way of doing that is to go to the image menu and you'll find a command called trim and trim. This makes make my documents smaller get rid of either solid color or transparent stuff and if you have the checkerboard showing up, just tell it to get rid of the transparent pixels. If on the other hand, this was something like a logo that you scanned and instead of being surrounded with transparent stuff it is surround with white. You could tell it to use either the top left pixel color or the bottom right, and it would just look at what colors in the corner your document it would crop out any of that a cz long as it was on ly that color and had no detail whatsoever, so we get rid of any solid colored backgrounds just to cross him out all right so now we have a car in one layer we have our shadow on the other layer and I think we need some work to happen on that shadow if you want to shadow to combine with what's underneath it usually you'll want to change the blending mode at the top of your layers palette to a choice called multiply in multiply means print that shadow on top of what's underneath is if you're pretty with ink just imagine that you had this image and you put it through an ink jet printer it's already printed on the sheet of paper and you sent that same sheet of paper back through the inkjet printer for a second pass and on the second pass your printing this layer so it's just going to take the ink that would be used here and added to the ink that would be used there and it'll put him together but the car on top you don't want the car and multiply mode because it would look weird if you did you want to see it don't want that unless you're looking for a ghost story you know and we have that now we can refine our shadow quite a bit in many different ways and also we could end up using it for other things where maybe we don't want the original texture that's in there are the little pieces of grass that were coming out that kind of stuff all sorts of things we could dio let's look at a few of her options whenever you have a layer mask if you look in your layers panel either the later mask will be active or the image that the layer mask is attached to you can figure out which one of the two is active by looking at the corners do you see the corners are kind of bracketed around here they're highlighted that indicates that the mask is active if I were to click on the thumbnail for the image you see it move over so you need to double check that what you think his active really is I'm gonna work over here where the main images and let's see what we could do I'm going to apply a filter that's going to try to get rid of fine details let's take a look at just so you can see what's happening I'm gonna simplify the document and act as if all we have is the car the trailer in its original background the way I can do that it's just hide the other layers other than the one I'm thinking about and there's a way to turn off the mask temporarily if you shift click on it it will turn it off shift clicking turns it off remember we shift clicked on that little link symbol that temporarily turned off shift clicking is kind of a common toggle to turn something on and off but now, let's, look at a filter we could apply to that later to try to get rid of some of this fine detail. If I go to the filter menu and cheese blur there's, a choice called surface blur and was surface blur if I bring up the radius high enough and then adjust my threshold, well, I know it will do. I'm gonna work on a smaller document to just let my computer be faster. I'll select this little area here, we'll pop it in a new document, we'll just look at that to see how the filter works, and then we'll go back to the other document, and that way it will be just more responsive. So in service blur we've a radius setting, which is how much of a blur we're going to be applying, you see getting blurrier as they bring this higher and higher, whereas if I bring it down, you see it sharp, so I'm gonna get that absolute good amount of blur. Then we have a threshold setting let's, take a look at what threshold does when threshold has turned all the way down, nothing is blurred, we're very little is blurred as I bring threshold up more and more of the image will become blurred, but look at the edge of the shadow you notice the edge of the shadow stays flee so have this that are relatively low setting relatively crisp what threshold does is it says how big of a difference can we have between two shades before we should blur it so if I said this to to its onley blurring things that are different by two brightness levels or less if I bring this up higher let's say fifteen it means now on ly blur things that air similar by fifteen shades of gray if there's anything with a greater difference than that don't blur it and by doing this you can often times blur the detail inside of areas without blurring the transition between one object on another meaning if you had some of his head and a blue sky behind them you could blur the detail in your head you could blur the detail in the blue sky but the transition between the blue sky in the head where the big difference in brightness would remain crisp it's kind of weird so if I can find the setting that just gives me most of this detail getting blurry but the transition between the two still remain relatively crisp I can get away with a lot of blurring without losing too much on the edge of that shadow so that's what I'm gonna do is just apply this to our shadow surface blur surface floor is actually quite useful when working on skin if you would like to soften skin to get rid of like the look of pores and wrinkles and things but you want to maintain the eyelashes going to maintain the shape of the nose that kind of stuff you could apply surface blur and figure out a setting that would allow it to have just enough blur to soften all the transitions in the skin then adjust your threshold, bring it down and down until you get the eyelashes not being blurred you get the nose not being blurred, but the skin still is and it can help you teo, get away with a little bit more out of that skin without losing the detail in eyelashes and other things sees reflecting light who is in hawaii, which I imagine is probably beautiful right now eyes there anyway to do the opposite of the cliff clipping mask where it shows up everywhere except in the front of the layer below do the opposite so well in the case of that shadow that I had there talking about the clipping thing, I just put it on the layer underneath otherwise you could do it using layer masks which I could show you in a moment the but not with that particular feature that I was either so I'll show in a moment now going to turn that mask back on and now I'm going to turn back on the other layers and it's hard to see here because of how dark it is but you wouldn't end up noticing much of the detail that was in the shadow anymore because we've had it blurred. The other thing we could do here is click on the mask m blur the mask that would soften the transition or the edge of the shadow. With that, I could just use a normal gazi and blur, but you see the shadow getting softer and since it's on its own layer we can adjust its opacity of it's too dark. So I click on the word opacity at the top of my layers panel bring it all the way down and then slowly bring it up and see how much shattered I think would be appropriate here let's talk about that question that we had from what I understood, what they were saying wass that they might have an object like this and have a different object like that. And instead of clipping these two were one only shows up where the other is, what they wanted to do was have the opposite of that so that instead of having the green object only show for the red is they wanted it to show up out here on lee out there uh what I could do is a couple things. The first is if it's a simple layer stack just move this object below the other so that the other one is obstructing its view of that but if for some reason you can't change the order of the layers that's just not practical which you could do instead is a little trick if you move your mouse on top of the thumbnail for a layer and you hold down the command key control on windows and click it's going to select the contents of that layer all it's doing is it's doing equivalent to train off the eyeball and all the other layers and just saying it's select what's here don't select the checkerboard so if you command click on that layer the little thumbnail it's going to give you this election then you can go to the layer that you wanted to effect and if you just add a layer mask right now it's going to convert that selection into a mask and what it does is it only keeps the area that's selected so we're going to get a similar results that we had a minute ago where you see the rest of it disappear but that mask can be changed at any time if you click on the mask itself all you need to do then is come over here in inverted meaning make it the opposite of what it is right now and then it would be showing up in the opposite area so I command clicked on the layer that is below to get a selection out of it I added a layer mask to layer above and after adding a layer mask, a inverted it that would give them I think, what their requests it? I don't know if that's, you know, they want to go through that process or not, but it would lead to get it to happen. All right, so we're working on these layers we got some layer mass, we got the background gone on our on our car and our trailer, we got the shadow there, the shadow works out because it's on a separate layer and therefore I can have a separate blending mode for it. I used multiply mode, and I could have a separate opacity for it so I could lessen it, and I could blur it to soften it, try to get rid of some detail, but now, let's, look at how we might need to refine this to make it look better, it's not that I'm going to try to make this image necessarily look better. We just need to talk about later masks and the features we didn't image to play with. So I'm gonna zoom up here in the back and see if there's anything that bugs me now these two layers are linked together, so I should be able to move this moving around and I see in the back of the trailer, do you see some stuff hanging off of it? Like some old maybe some of the old background from over there right here. It looks like this is a chunk missing, possibly in the trailer. The top looks like it's got a relatively rough edge of him of it. Way down here. You might see it's not nice and straight across all that kind of stuff. And I see some of the old trees attached up here. It's just a pretty bad job so let's refine it. I'm working on the layer that contains the trailer in the car. I'm making sure the mask is active. See the corners air on the mask, not the main image and with a mask, any area that's black hides that layer any area that's white allows it show up. So all I need to do right now is grab the paintbrush tool in paint with black or white and so a ground, my paintbrush and let's see you get a brush about this big and I don't. If you remember from yesterday when we were, uh, retouching things, I mention that you can click on one area and if you hold on the shift key and click somewhere else, it just connects the dots with a straight line, so why not line up the edge of my brush with where the top of the trailers should show up here? Click on penny with white by the way and then hold on the shift key and click where it should show up over here on the far left and I'll draw a straight line across it it looks like my brush was slightly soft I could choose undo it a slightly harder edge brush tried again I could kind of touch that up sometimes to go back and forth to make sure you're smooth I could do that in other areas here it is kind of draw things in but there's some problems there that want to use a different feature for I'm not quite ready for yet let's fix this part to hide the areas I need to paint with black and so I usually this type of letter x which is the exact same thing is clicking this double arrow it just switches these two colors black hides things so if I switch that to the front that's what I'd be paying with and I just happened to do it by typing x that's the shortcut for that all right let's see I'm gonna do that near the back of the trailer click ah hold shift click shift click because a little chunk missing here I'll hit the letter x so I'm painting with white because white like makes things show up paint that in touch it up around the edge now let's get a little tricky with our layer mask after hiding this little part up here, they don't think should be there. I want to fix this little corner that looks like it has a notch cut out of it. The problem is, I can't tell where exactly I need to paint because I can't see the shape the trailer is in. They're so let's find out how we could cheat when you work with a layer mask, you can disable the layer mask temporarily by holding down the shift key and clicking within the thumb now for that later, the thumbnail of the mask so I just moved my mouse right here I hold down the shift key and I click see the big red x saying it's disabled, but just because it's disabled doesn't mean that I can't work on it or I can't do other things to it. So right now with my paintbrush tool, I can paint on the mask, the mask is active, it's just not affecting my image of the moment and I could come in here and just paint right like this where I think that ed should be when I'm done a shift, click on the mask again, it turned on and you see how I fixed it a little bit, but I'd really still need to go out a little further. There might be something else I could do to make this easier. I'm gonna shift click on the mask again it turned off and then check this out there's a way to get the mask to be over laid on top of your picture so you can still see where the mask is ending and therefore possibly see where you need to paint and the way you do that is when this layer is active any layer that has a mask attached to it on your keyboard go to your upper right right above the returner enter key and there's usually the back slash key not the ford slash use when you type in web site addresses the one calling the other other direction if I press that watch what happens is it just took the mask that's there and it over late it on top of my picture as a red overlay where any area that's covered with red is an area that is becoming hidden due to the mask all I did was hit the back slash key it's right above the returner enter key on your keyboard so now I can look more closely at this and see where I think that edge looks like a deviates from the edge of the trailer or where I just might want to paint so I can come in with my brush knowing that where the red is our areas that will be hidden and so if it doesn't look like it's going through quite the right area I can come in there and paint I can also switch around paint with black I think too much is showing up, but it wouldn't be able to tell exactly where to paint if I didn't have the mask disabled because then those areas would just be hidden and I couldn't see where the heck to paint when I'm done to turn off the overlay, I just hit the same key that I used to turn it on, which was the backslash key. The one right above returner enter to make it to the mask is applying to my image. I hold on the exact same key that I used to disable it, which was the shift key, some holding shift right now, and I'll click right on the mask. So now I was able to get that edge to look better because I was able to visualize where the mask was it going to affect my image? Ah, but I had the mask disabled so I could see the rest of the picture that kind of while we could do the same thing down here near the bottom of any of these, like where the trailers wheels are if it looks like little pieces are missing or look, it looks like he's. Looks to me like he's got a flat tire here like where he almost lost it all the way down to the rim there's something well I could disable the mask just so I could say oh where is the tire but then I can't tell what part of the tire is missing and what part isn't because I can't see where the mask lines up so again I hit backslash and now I can see that you know the only problem with that colored overlay is sometimes too thick I can't see through enough to see where the edge of the tire would be so what you can do is if I double click on the mask it will bring up this properties panel that's just settings that are related to the mask and by double clicking on that mask in a lot of man if they caused out to show up it might already be there when you're working on your mask but one of the choices is if you go to the side menu this little icon on the upper right that guy mask options so that mask options what mask options will allow you to do is define what color is the mask show up as if you're showing it is an overlay and when you show it is an overlay how much can you see through it so I might end up bringing down the capacity to I don't know maybe twenty percent is that a little easier to see? I need a disabled the mask again them there we get twenty percent little easier to see through or if again go to the side menu mask options I can click on this square of color and say maybe red isn't the best color, maybe easier to see blue or green or some other color click ok and now it's I think a little easier to see and so remember I got to that panel by double clicking on the mask that just automatically makes it show up and then I went to the side menu just little icon in the upper right of that panel that allowed me to do it, but now I can see exactly how the mask relates to my image and so if I come in here with my brush, I can probably touch this up and I can see exactly where the edge of the tire is to get a much better idea probably going to be a weed I need to retouch out there but that I can see the edge of the card had some masking on top of it, so maybe I click right here, move down a bit, hold the shift key wherever it straight and looks like it's not perfectly straight old cars aren't always perfect, but remember that colored overlay indicates where the mask would because your image to become hidden and so that colored overlay is covering up anything that shouldn't be hidden then you want to paint to change it. So over here I think there's a visor on the car and there's the mirror is well and so I can get down there and you're not limited using painting tools you can use selection tools and then just go to the edit menu and tell it you want to fill with black or white in the end you're working on the mask and the mask is going to contain black and white how you put that black and white in there is up to you I just happen to feel like painting right now so I'm using a paintbrush but it's not that I'm trying to make this image look just right it's just that we need some images to work with to talk about masks and I find a lot of people have no idea that you can turn off the mask to actually see the full image but then still view the mask as an overlay so you can see where it would affect that image and I did that by shift clicking on the master disable it and then hitting the back slash key to view it as an overlay and then touch it up by painting with black or white and if I wanted the mirror I could paint on it a swell give you the idea when you're done, the backslash key will turn off the overlay and shift. Click on the mask to re enable it in that way you can double check your work, make sure that it's really appropriate for what you had there. The other thing that I double track is anytime I painted a mask senior, even as an overlay doesn't show you all the defects that are in it, I also view the mask directly. You know how in your layers panel this is a miniature version of the big full size picture? Well, this picture over here is also a miniature version of the full size mask. The full size mask is the same size is this document. If you want to see that mask, move your mouse on top of this thumb now for the layer mask and hold on the option key alta windows, click on it now I'm looking at the mask, not looking at the picture and looking at the mask you would end up looking for here is gaps in my paint strokes that I didn't realize, especially if I ended up using a soft edge brush anywhere it's really easy to paint across an area multiple times and have little gaps in between here it looks like I might have one gap right there. Unless I remember some sort of object there that should be hidden I don't remember one and so I can touch it up right here when I'm viewing the mask I can also just glance around and look for any jaggi edges or just odd shapes like that little mark there might not be appropriate and touch it up and so see here where it's all kind of j g that might just give me an idea of where might I want to review the mask and review? What is the picture look like in that area? Because I doubt the car was that jaggi I bet you the card is smooth, smooth body so I can go out of this view by option clicking on this again and then there's all sorts of things you can do just like before I can hit backslash to see the overlay and decide if that really should look jackie there or not and if it shouldn't come in here in paint to touch it up but I don't usually try to get the mass to look absolutely perfect because nobody's going to see your mask they're only going to see the end result and so if the end results looking fine, the mass doesn't have to look perfect. The mask, though, can give you a little clue as to where you might need to look and be critical uh on your image to touch up questions about that leave at the moment people are still good um let's see, they did kind of notice that the shadows from the light pole and the car are going in different directions I don't know if that's something that you want to fix in this image or if we're going to skip that for educational purposes and move on to something else but that was something that they noticed that the let me look what we have the light for ok tell us on the telephone pole is going this way the light for the cars going the opposite way right the way you fix that is you go to the layer that contains thie poll you grab the spot healing brush in retouch outed shadow as well but in this particular image you're not going to be able to other than constructing a new shadow that goes in that direction that can at least make it so the shadows look like they're right but it's not going to look like the highlights on the car are right you know where if the light was truly coming from back here which is what the shadow on that pole is telling me if you pretty much take a draw an imaginary line from the top of the shadow of the poll and draw that line through the top of the pole and continue it off into infinity it be pointed at the sun you know, so tells me the sun is up that way somewhere and if you look at our car, the sun is instead over this way because the direction, the shadows going to straw line from the edge of the shadow to the edge that's creating the shadow and it would tell me where the sun would be in effect makes sense. And so I could fake it by getting rid of the shadow, creating a brand new one that's a little bit tio down into the right of the car. But the highlights on the car itself are still going to tell you it's it's fake, so, uh, pick better images that's what I would say we're in this case, so about that the shadows we're going the right way. There you go weak, so redhead seventeen is wondering why not just click on the edit in quick mask mode to see the mask as a color editing quick mask mode only works when you have a selection on your screen if I type a letter q, which is what turns on quick mask mode? Nothing happens right now because there is no selection. Uh, if I could have done that before, I created a mask, you know, remember when I used the quick selection tool to select the car initially before I turn it into a mask I could have typed letter q and I would have seen it isn't overlooked and that is an overlay that would look in general identical to what it looked like after it turned into a mask and I did it is an overlay um so it's just another option you just have to I think to do it at a time before you turned into a mask if you're looking for the same look after you turn it into the mask all you're doing is sitting back slash so it's ah two options to really do the same thing I just find that sometimes when I'm making a composite I'm not sure if this image is gonna work yet so it's not worth time investing and making them at the mask perfect until I know that it's going to work out like if my client goes oh that light's going the wrong direction and you're like hey man I can't use this image so I would rather get the composite going a bit before I end up going into refining things how would you get rid of the leaves in the side of the trailer eyes a reflection of leads your reflection in the side of the trailer I don't know if I'm going to be able to completely get rid off I could uh what I might do in that case just make him less prominent is I might go in and do a human saturation adjustment layer and with human saturation there's little hand tool you can hit here. And if I click on the the green that's in the trailer, I could drag to the left, and what it's going to do is make it less colorful, it's going to make all the greens less colorful and therefore it's going to start to look just like random detail in there instead of really saying green leaves. And then right now this is affecting the entirety of the image even than the background where you have green trees and things I could make it. So this only shows up our only effects. This layer uh, one way of doing that is to remember the clipping mass a little down point out you do that, and if there are green things in the car like it was green car, I could paint the mask to say, don't affect the car. But if you look at the difference there here's before there's after you see a little less green in there, if I really needed to doom or I would probably need to come in there and do something like surface blur or, uh some other smoothing routine one would be a filter called median um, I could try to apply to that to smooth it out a bit, but you just have to think about how worth of it how worth it is it. Especially in this particular instance, when you can't really see what's off the edge of the road over there. So there might be a tree over there.

Class Description

Part of the Complete Photoshop Mastery Bundle.

Learn how to retouch any image, whether it be the simplest problem or the most complex and seemingly impossible task. Understand the difference between all the retouching tools and then learn how to supplement them with other Adobe® Photoshop® features. See how multiple images can be combined into a seamless composite that is much more than the sum of its parts.

  • Learn the difference between all the retouching tools and when to use each one
  • See how the Clone Source panel can help with difficult retouching jobs
  • Rid your images of telephone poles, power lines and pedestrians, even if they overlap complex backgrounds like trees
  • Discover how Layer Masks, Blending Sliders and Vector Masks are best implemented
  • Learn how Smart Objects can allow you to make almost infinite changes to your design without having to rework your image

  • This course is also part of the Photoshop tutorials series

    Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CS6