Layer Masks continued.....

Clive R. Haynes FRPS

Want to see what you have done or what remains to mask?

There are three ways of viewing the extent of the Layer Mask area.

One is to turn off the Layer(s) beneath (click on the Eye icons) and look at the layer with an empty background. Here you can soon mop up any stray areas, then switch the Layer(s) on again. See below

       (Left) Enlarged detail at this stage
A second way is by holding down the 'Alt' key and clicking in the Layer Mask thumbnail - the mask area is revealed as a black & white outline. You can continue to 'paint' on this outline to refine detail and remove unwanted areas. To return to the image, 'Alt' + click again on the Layer Mask thumbnail. See below
The third way (and this is a very useful option) by using the \ (backslash) key (to the left of 'Z' on most conventional keyboards) - this reveals the masking you've done as a red opaque - rather like Quick Mask. You may continue painting on the Layer Mask with the red opaque visible if you wish. To switch the red off, use \ (backslash) key again. See below:
Note: Should the red overlay prove inconvenient, you can change to another colour by first double-clicking on the Quick Mask icon near the base of the toolbar. This reveals a 'colour picker' box where you can choose another colour (and set the opacity) you prefer. Remember, the Quick Mask colour willl remain as set until you swap it back to red or your preference.
Above: Partial masking of layer revealed
Above: More masking of layer revealed

Above: The final image

The dog's name? No idea, we called him 'Gaspode' ('Diskworld' fans may appreciate this).


Making a selective Layer Mask
Should you wish to work on a specific area within the mask and not stray beyond, you can do this by simply making a selection around the required area ('inverse' it if you wish) and work away - painting on the mask will stop at the selection edge.


Want to Paint on the mask in dead straight lines?
Hold the Shift key down either before or after positioning the brush on the image. This is often easier with a 'mouse' than a graphic pen & tablet.


'Hide All'
This is the other Layer Mask option (via the Layers options bar menu). When you choose 'Hide All' (as opposed to Reveal All) the image 'disappears'. The Layer Mask 'thumbnail' is filled in with black. The image is revealed by painting with white. To hide again - paint with black. It all depends on how you need to integrate the image on the layer concerned.

The quick way of opting for the 'Hide All' Layer Mask, is to hold down the 'Alt' key when clicking on the Layer Mask icon.

Before closing, a bit more about 'Masks'

Using the (built-in) Layer Mask on an 'Adjustment Layer'
One of the wonderful things about a Layer Mask is that it automatically appears when you create an 'Adjustment Layer'. The right-hand box on the Adjustment Layer is the Layer Mask 'thumbnail'. When the Adjustment Layer is activated, black paint will hide the Adjustment Layer setting and white paint will restore it. Of course different brush pressures and opacities (shades of grey) will cause the effect of 'painting' to be greater or lesser.

For more about 'Adjustment Layers', refer to the Know-How contents list.

Note: If you have created an Adjustment Layer after first 'selecting' an area, then painting with black / white will extend or hide the extent of the area initially selected - this is really useful! Try it.


Gradient Mask
This technique enables a smooth transition from one image to another, go to Gradient Mask (click on the link)

Know-How Contents
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