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Layer masks become very useful for certain special effects, like for instance right here I am going to zoom in on this LG sign here that's reflected on this side of the building. So I am going to go in here real close, and as we see the reflection and as we study real reflections, you would notice that the lighter the tones of reflection the more visible they will be in the glass that's reflecting them, and the darker areas will be a little more transparent. They won't be as strong in the reflections so that you can see through them a little better. And again, we also have these other areas that need to cover this.
Now I could have spent a lot of time and just created each panel individually, but that takes too much time. It's much easier to do it by using things like layer masks. Let's look at how this was created. I've got here a file in which I've added a couple layers. This background layer is just a pattern, the inside of the building you might say. Here are the window frames. These are the frames in front of our building and so on. And this is the item that's being reflected inside of those. So what I want to do now is I want to create this and make it look more like a reflection.
So what I am going to do is right off the bat I am going to bring down the opacity a little bit, just such so that it becomes this little hint of a visual in the glass. But I only want to see it in the glass; I don't want to see it through these parts over here. So what I am going to do is I am going to assign it a mask. Now I can do it from down here, or I can come up here and say Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All or Hide All. I am going to say Reveal All, which is going to give me a white mask. Now that I have the mask selected--and it is selected there, the layer is selected here and the mask is selected--I am going to turn this layer, the one that has the separations of the glass, into a selection by Command+Clicking on it. There we go.
Now that we have it selected, I am going to the mask. I am in the mask. I have black for my foreground color. So I am going to fill the mask with black through that area. So I am going to say using the foreground color, do it. Now we see that right off the bat the reflection looks like it's in the glass. Now this red dot is much darker than the blue. So in that particular case I want to do something different. So what I am going to do is I am going to use my Magic Wand tool and select from that layer, the red dot.
Now that I have that dot selected, I am going to go back to the mask, right, and in the mask I am going to go in there and fill that area with grays, enough of a gray so that it's going to hide this, just partially exposing more of the scene behind it, so that you can see more of it. Because of that red being so dark, you wouldn't see as brightening the reflection. So I am going to go in there and fill that with a gray. So we'll go in there, and we'll pick a gray. So I'll pick like about a medium gray like that, and now this is going to be partially exposed, because that right now is going to be turned into a gray, but we can fix that later.
So I am going to go in there and just fill that with that gray, and now we can see that we have just seen a little hint of that. If that's a little too much, we might want to go in there and darken it a little bit. So I can go in there and pick a darker gray or a lighter gray. I want to expose more of it, so I'll just pick a lighter gray, and I'll expose that. Now we're seeing more of the background showing through and less of the other tone. Turn these guys back into a selection and fill that area back with black again, and there we can see that when we deselect it, we've seen a reflection that's just exposing more of this area through the red than through this area.
When we look at just the mask by Option+Clicking on the mask, we see that the area of the circle is a gray, the area that we want to fully expose is a white, and the area we want to completely hide is black. So you see that our mask has different tones in it for different levels of visibility of the contents of that layer against its background to make it look like it is a true reflection.
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