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Layer Masks

Lesson 16 from: Adobe Photoshop for Photographers: Beyond the Basics

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

16. Layer Masks

Lesson Info

Layer Masks

we've been talking about masking and know that anytime I talk about masking, it is also talking about selections because a selection and a mask do this similar things. One just looks like marching ants on your screen, which is a temporary thing. You're going to use it for a moment and get rid of it, and then a mask is attached to something. It's attached to a layer or an adjustment that limits where it can affect your image. But you can convert a selection into a mask or a mask back into a selection in. So when I mentioned one, I'm also thinking of the other. So I want to mention just a little bit more about masks. I have an image here that I took. Think somewhere near the Napa Valley. For some reason, everyone thinks I took it at a graveyard because they see this little little white marks in the background and they ask because I have a picture of me in here with my camera, and I use it on some of my my like biographer, yet stuff their like a unit graveyard. Not so winery eso anyway, h...

ave this in what I'd like to do is put something in the picture frame. Now, if I have an image and I've spent the time to select an area and I think it might want to use it in the future, I'll usually save it within that file. And if you just make any kind of selection using any tool you want and you wanna be able to get it back later, like a month later, when you open this file, you go to the select menu and choose save selection, and that is going to convert that selection into a save selection. The place it gets saved is in the Channels panel, right? There's channels. If I click there now down here, do you see it? It looks just like a mask. In fact, it is a mask, and the area that's white is a year that was selected there. That's black is the area that wasn't. And if I want to get it back, all I need to do is go to the select menu and choose load selection, and when I do, you'll notice that there's a pop up menu called Channel because that's where it saved it, and I can come in here and load it back in. So I've done that already, and I'm gonna get rid of the one I just had because it wasn't really a useful selection. I'll just click on his name and the channels panel and drag it down to the trash can to get rid of it. Anyway, here's one I created actually credit when we're at one of our brakes right before we get started. When you guys were talking on the sofas in pre show banter, I had to do something. So anyway, I made a selection and I chose save selected, So I get it back later. If you say the selection, you have to use a file format. They can handle what's called Alfa Channels. The kind of channels up here actually make up your image and then any that show up below it are called alpha channels, and the JPEG file format doesn't handle them. So you need to use tiff, Photoshopped or something like that. So this I saved is a tiff file. I'm gonna get this back as a selection. I could go up to the select menu and choose load selection, But since I already have this open. You've learned before that if I ever want to take a mask and loaded as a selection, I could move my mouse on top of it. Hold on the command key and click. I think we've done that a few times when I wanted to use the same selection over again, and you just command click on that and I get a selection. Does the same thing is going to the select menu and choosing load selection. So anyway, that was the little selection I haven't hear. The way I created that selection is I used the quick selection tool to begin with, and I painted around here. It's screwed up in a few places in so afterwards to refine my selection. Here's what I did. Whenever you have a selection visible on your screen, you can view it in a different way, where it looks like a red overlay similar to one weary in the refine mass command or refine edge command. And we saw that red overlay that indicated where something was not selected. And if you want to do it here, there's two ways you can do it first. The very bottom of your tool panel. There's an icon right down here that is for quick mask mode. You can click that icon. It'll turn on quick mask mode. If you click it again, I'll turn it off. I never hit that icon because there's a keyboard shortcut that is very easy for me to remember. If I could remember the name of that feature quick mask mode, I just type a letter Q all by itself, not command. Q. Then quit photo shop, but just Q type it once turns it on cue again, turns it off. So what is nice about Q is if I hit it for me, it's easier to zoom up and see how close this match is. Something. Can you see that this is off the tiniest bit right there compared to when this is off? It's for me. Harder to see. So when I hit Q. It shows it that way. Then I can use the paint brush tool, and this is exactly like painting on a mask. Remember, we had a masks attached to a layer or something. You could use the paint brush tool to change it, and we have those special features where we could use a 20% opacity brush in hard mix mode that touch up partially transparent. All that stuff works when you're in quick mask mode. So what I'm gonna do here is choose a brush and just come over here to touch this up a little bit. I just need to not be in hard mix and not be a 20% 100% but I can touch this up in. In essence, I'm modifying the selection. So quick Mask is a temporary mask where you might want to use the features that you use with mass, like painting to modify things and you can touch it up. So here I can see that it doesn't match up. So I will paint with white, you know, here and touch that up. I might hit the letter X to switch to paint with black, and I could actually see that part of the frame is not covered up here. But I often use quick mask mode whenever I have a selection and I want to double check what the edge looks like and see if it matches up with something and I might want to modify it, not with selection tools but with painting tools. And that's what quick mask mode allows for. And so once I made the selection with the quick selection tool, I would come in here in type letter Q and then inspect with this edge looks like. And wherever it's deviates and looks. Ah, like it deviated in a way that's gonna mess things up. I would touch it up by painting, but we haven't mentioned quick mask mode that I can remember. So I wanted to make sure I mentioned it here, and I don't need to make this perfect because nobody's going to see this mask. Nobody's gonna see where it's off, but they will see the end result where I've used the mask to do something. And so I just need to make sure it's somewhat close to usable, and I think I have it at that point or will have it at that point in just a moment here. All right, just a little piece of grass right there that I want to get rid off, and all I'm doing is painting just so you know, with a paint brush tool. If you click in one spot and you hold down the shift key and click in another photo shop will draw paint a straight line between the two areas where you've clicked, and that's what I'm doing right now. When it looks like I'm covering a larger area is I'm holding down the shift key and clicking, and it's just connecting the dots from where I click to make nice straight lines. All right, so there I've refined my selection all type a letter Q. Again to turn off quick mask mode. If you really want to know what quick mass mode is doing, you'd have to have the channels panel open when I type a letter. Q. Watch what happens in channels it saves. It is a selection, which puts it in there, and it views it at the same time is the main image. When I type que off it loads is a selection and throws that away, so it's ah, using some of that functionality. Now let's use that selection. Well, I want to put something in that frame, so I'm gonna go to bridge. Remember, the keyboard shortcut for bridge was the same as the keyboard shortcut for opening, but you have the shift key and Let's figure out what we want to put in there. Let's put the lion in. They all used to move to old on his, drag him over to the other town, drag him down there and I'll add a mask. So I'm working on the layer that contains the lion. If I add a mask when there's a selection active, it thinks I only want to keep the area that selected. So when I click the layer mask icon, you see it fills the rest of the mask with black, and now I have my lion in there. But now here's what we need to learn a little bit more about masks because I don't think the line is well positioned in there. And so I want to use the move toe and I wouldn't move the line down. So let's try it Well, Unfortunately, the mask has no idea that it's lining up with some other part of the picture in the mask itself should not move along with the image. Most of the time, the masks that you have attached to a layer lineup with features in that particular layer like you're moving the background of somebody with curly hair and you want the mask to move with layer. But then other times you'll have a mask on a layer where when you look in the layers panel, that mask lines up with something down here and it needs to remain lined up, even if I move this around. Well, if you look at this, here's my mask. Here's the later to Tash to, and you see a link symbol between the two. That means if I move one, the other moves along with it. If I click there to turn off the link symbol now, either gonna move them, ask or move the picture, whichever the two is active. You remember the corners will tell you what's active, and right now it's the mask. So if I use the move to a right now, I would be moving the mask. The picture itself would stay stationary, and it's only the mask itself that would move. I don't want that. If I go into my layers panel, I'd have to click over here to say, Move that part, making that active. Now this is gonna move in. Since it's not linked to this, it will move independently of the mask. So now I can go like this, or I can come up and take maybe command t for transform. Whereas if those two were linked when I transform, it would not only transform the picture, it would also transform the mask changing its size. But that's something I don't think we've had a chance to talk about, which is, Uh, whenever you want to move something, there is a link symbol in the link symbol means move the mask along with the picture, and it's turned on by default. The time that I turn it off is when the mask lines up with something on a different layer, and I needed to remain lined up. Then I unlike it by clicking in this area. You can click there again to turn that link symbol back on, but it's on by default then. One of the thing that I'm not sure if I mentioned much in this particular class is with that mask. There's a few things we can do with it, one of which we've talked about, which is holding on the option key and clicking on it to view its contents. That's when we touched it up on some other images. You option click again to stop doing it, but there's a couple of the things we knew. We can hold the shift key and click on it. If we shift, click on a mask, you'll find a red X goes through it and you're disabling the mask so you can see everything that's in that layer without limited with the mask. If you look in layers panel, you can tell it's disabled. All I did was shift click. I'll do it a second time to turn it back on. Then there's two other things we can do with that mask. We could depress the backslash key. The Backslash key is right above the returner in Tricky. It's not the key you're used to using for websites where you type in a Web address and it's got slashes in it. It's the one that goes the opposite direction. It's right above the returner. Enter key on the Macintosh. If I hit that when I have a layer that has a mask on it, it views it isn't overlay. It looks exactly like quick mask mode. In all, quick mask mode is make this look like a mask that's overly, but so when you have a selection, looks like little marching ants on the edge. If you want the red overlay, you type queue for quick mask. If, on the other hand, you don't have a selection. Instead, you have a mask. The equivalent is to type that backslash key to see it as a colored overlay, and any time you can paint on it as long as it's active, your layers pound. The final thing I could do with that mask is Aiken loaded as a selection, and if I move my mouse on top of it, I hold on the command key and click that's controlling windows. Click it just loaded. It s a selection in general command. Clicking on things loads them as selections. If I were to move over and command, click on the layer itself a little thumbnail for the layer it would select wherever there's content within their All right. Sometimes you want more than one mask and a layer. If you want more than one mask and a layer, you can't have that on one layer. But we can cheat and get a second mask if you want to have to mass that control where layer is. What I can do is put this layer in a group. A group looks like a folder in the easiest way to create a group is with command G control G and Windows. If you have a group that has a later inside of it, you can tell if the layers inside cause it will be indented. So it's over here, right by the name of the group instead of being over there, then you can add a mask to that. And now you, in effect, have to mass that control where this shows up. So I could make this. So maybe the parts of this background disappear by grabbing my paint brush tool, painting with black and saying, Hey, make this part disappear. It's only gonna apply to the layers that are inside of that, um group. That's the only thing it's able to hide. What's inside that group is our lion. So on occasion is useful to have more than one mask. Right now, this isn't a great example of it, but, um, but I just want to make sure that I covered that at some point. And since we were talking about masks. I thought it wouldn't be a bad time to do it then. One final thing about Mass before we move on to other topics is that sometimes it's not useful to view what we have in this way where you just see the end result, often times you have to hand up holding down the shift key and clicking on your master. Disabled it to remind you what used to be there and to see if you give the lion a haircut or not, because you can't usually tell in this final view. So there is one other thing that can help you when working on a mask. If you go to the properties panel, which is what's directly above this, if you don't have the properties panel on your screen, you can go to the window menu. And there's a choice called properties that would make it show up. The properties panel is the same place that it usually shows the settings for an adjustment layer. If an adjustment layer was active right now, let's say it's curves right there is where the curve would be. But if what's active is the mask, it'll have setting to the mask. One thing that's nice to use here in the Masks Properties panel is a choice called density. Density means how much will it really be able to hide things in this layer? And if I lower it, you'll find that it starts bringing back whatever the mask is currently hiding. And so sometimes dialing that down a little bit makes you kind of remember what used to be surrounding it. And you can tell how accurate your mascots you can turn back up when you're sure that you got what you want or you can leave. It turned down if you didn't want it to completely hide something, the other choice and send here's feather, which would soften the edge of the mask, making it fade out more. But it's not permanent. It's not like I blurred the mask, and then it would be a permanent change. It's something I could turn back down if I needed to. Later. The other choices that are in this panel are just shortcuts to get to things like this. Word says Mask edge is the same as what we used to remove to fix the edge on hair. It just takes you to the refine Mask Dialog box. This takes you to color range, which is usually found under the select menu. This would invert the mask. It's the same as going to the Image Adjustments menu, and there's a choice called Invert, so those are just shortcuts. But it's way too late. You know, there is a Mask Properties panel that has a few settings in it, and some people will find them to be useful. To be honest, I rarely go to that panel. I just find that I can usually disable the mask or do something else to get those same features. All right, so that is enough about Mass for now. We will most likely talk about Mass a little bit more when we talk about compositing tomorrow, because whenever we need to remove, the backgrounds will often do that. Use masks

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