During this tutorial, I’ll be introducing you to a single application of Adobe Photoshop’s layer mask. I’m not going to explain everything there is to know about layer mask, but show you a simple day-to-day operation that will help you create effective blending between objects on layers.
A lot of people like to use the erase tools to remove pixels from layers. Personally, I never use this tool. It takes away control. I like to be in charge of what I delete and have the ability to easily undo any mistakes. With the Erase tool, whatever you erase is gone for good, unless you refer to the history palette. The method I’m about to show you, will do the same as the erase tool, but with one exceptional difference. You’ll be able to reintroduce deleted pixels at any point in a highly versatile and tactile way. This method will give you plenty of control and once you have got use to it, there will be no limits to your creativity.
Layer Mask notes
- To create a layer mask, choose your layer and then click on the layer mask icon at the bottom of the tool palette.
- For best control, use the brush tool with a soft brush.
- Black will hide or ‘mask’ pixels and white will show or ‘unmask’ them.
- Control the brush size with the square bracket keys to vary the softness of the blend.
- You can also vary the opacity of the blend by change the brush’s opacity on the option bar.
- One you have finished with your layer mask, drag the layer mask thumb on the layer palette on the Trash icon. You will then be able to Apply (keep changes but remove layer mask), Cancel (close this dialogue box with no effect), or Delete the layer mask and discard all layer mask changes. You don’t have to change the state of your layer mask, you can keep it as part of the file, but you will need to save your image using the .PSD format.
Further reading on Layer Masks