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Photomontage >

5.6 – Using Photoshop Elements >

Layer Masks

1 – Mac Students

When you see Ctrl in the tutorial, use the Cmd key instead.

2 – Download

You can download the photograph used below.

layer_mask_example.psd

paste_into_a_mask.psd

3 – Orientation

There are two layers, blue and green.

The blue layer is on top of the layer stack.

Therefore, you only see the blue layer.

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The blue layer is selected.

It's the active layer.

4 – Create a Layer Mask

Click the fourth icon at the top of the layers stack.

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A layer mask is added to the blue layer

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You still see the blue layer in the work area.

That's because the white in the mask reveals the blue layer.

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5 – Active Mask or Not Active Mask

The layer mask has a cyan rectangle around it.

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That means it's active.

Whatever happens next—will happen to the mask.

The blue layer is no longer active.

If you double click the blue layer—it now has a cyan rectangle around it.

It becomes active.

Whatever happens next—will happen to the blue layer.

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The mask was double clicked, making it active again.

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6 – Make the Mask Black

Again, the mask is active.

It has a cyan rectangle around it.

If it doesn't, double click it.

Press Ctrl + i.

This is the invert command.

The mask becomes the invert of white—black.

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The black mask is blocking the blue layer.

Before—white revealed the blue layer.

Now—black is blocking the blue layer.

You now see the green layer.

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7 – Brush the Black Mask with White

Brush Tool

1) Select the Brush tool on the left side of your screen.

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2) Below the work area, in Tool Options, check to make sure you've selected the brush tool in the upper-left corner.

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3) If you don't see Tool Options, click its icon in the lower-left corner of your screen.

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Get White Paint on the Brush

4) Look in the lower-left corner of your screen.

You need white paint on the top.

If black paint is on top, click the tiny curved-arrows icon (1).

If the two colors are not white and black, click the tiny black-white-boxes icon (2).

If the Color Picker window opens, click Cancel.

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Brush Tool

5) The circle in the work area is the Brush tool.

Is the brush too small or too big?

Note, the bracket keys are to the right of the P key on your keyboard.

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Press the left bracket key repeatedly to make the brush smaller.

Press the right bracket key repeatedly to make the brush larger.

[ – Smaller

] – Larger

Check Three Things

6) The top layer, Layer 2, is active (darker blue) .

If not, click it.

7) The mask is black.

If not, press Ctrl + i.

8) The mask has a cyan rectangle around it.

If not, double click the mask.

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Click, Hold, & Drag

9) Click, hold, and drag the brush across the work area.

The brush made a blue path—not white.

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That's because you brushed in the mask—with white.

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The white revealed the blue layer.

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Layer Mask Color Summary

Where a mask is white:

The layer is revealed.

Where the mask is black:

The layer is blocked.

Shades of Gray, Too

You can also use shades of gray.

Below, a gradient was added to the mask.

The gradient goes from white to black, with shades of gray in between.

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The left side—white—reveals all of the blue layer.

As the shades of gray get darker—the blue layer is gradually blocked more-and-more.

You see more-and-more of the green layer.

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8 – How to Use Layer Masks with Photomontages

Reminders

• Click the fourth icon to create a mask in a layer.

• When you do something with a mask, make sure it has a cyan-colored rectangle around it.

If it doesn't, double click the mask.

• White reveals; black blocks.

• Press Ctrl + i to invert the mask.

• When you want to do something to the layer that has the mask, double click on the layer thumbnail.

It will then have a cyan-colored rectangle around it.

Erase

Erase parts of a layer.

The layer below is revealed where you brush.

The mask is white.

Use the Brush tool with black paint.

Shapes

Go to Creating Shapes.

Gradients

Have two photographs of the same scene or person:

A before photograph and an after photograph

The resulting photograph transitions between the before and after photographs.

Pasting into a Mask

You can paste a photograph into a mask.

Do the following.

1) Open a photograph.

2) Press Ctrl + j to copy the layer.

3) Click the eye icon on the left side of the Background layer to hide it.

4) Click the fourth icon at the top of the layers stack to create a mask in the copied layer.

5) Open a second photograph.

6) Press Ctrl + a to select the photograph.

7) Press Ctrl + c to copy it.

8) Go back to the first photograph.

9) Hold down Alt (Option if Mac) and click inside the mask.

10) Release the Alt key.

11) Press Ctrl + v to paste the photograph into the mask.

12) Press the Esc key to deselect the selection.

13) Try inverting the mask by pressing Ctrl + i.

14) Select the Background layer.

15) Click the first icon, at the top of the layers stack, to create a blank layer, above the Background layer.

16) Fill the blank layer with a color by using the Paint Bucket tool.

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Example

The flowers photograph below was opened.

The layer was copied by pressing Ctrl +j.

A mask was created in the layer by clicking the fourth icon at the top of the layers stack.

The wood pile photograph was pasted into the mask of the flower photograph.

The mask was inverted by press Ctrl + i.

A blank layer was created below the flower layer by clicking the first icon at the top of the layers stack.

It was filled with white using the Paint Bucket tool.

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