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Blending images with a gradient layer mask

From: Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

Video: Blending images with a gradient layer mask

One of the most common techniques that people want to accomplish when they're working with multiple layers in a Photoshop document is how do you blend more than one layer together. It not only just means by changing the opacity between two layers but actually controlling where you see different parts of the image. So, in this particular file, I've got two layers, a White layer and a Pink layer. I'll turn off the White layer here, so you can see the Pink layer behind at the pink flower. Now what I want to do is see a part of the pink flower blending into the white flower. Now the best way to do that is to use a layer mask.

Blending images with a gradient layer mask

One of the most common techniques that people want to accomplish when they're working with multiple layers in a Photoshop document is how do you blend more than one layer together. It not only just means by changing the opacity between two layers but actually controlling where you see different parts of the image. So, in this particular file, I've got two layers, a White layer and a Pink layer. I'll turn off the White layer here, so you can see the Pink layer behind at the pink flower. Now what I want to do is see a part of the pink flower blending into the white flower. Now the best way to do that is to use a layer mask.

So, on the White layer I've got that chosen. I'm going to go to the bottom of the Layers panel, and there's an Add Layer Mask button. And that adds a layer mask filled with white on that particular layer. Now white means reveal all, all right? Everything where there's a white on this particular layer mask show me the area of the image where I see white in that thumbnail. If I want to hide a portion of that white flower and start seeing the pink flower underneath it, then I need to put some black pixels on the layer mask. Now, if I get my Brush tool, type a B for the Brush tool and pick a really big brush, I'll hold down Ctrl+Option on the Mac or Alt+Right-click on Windows and start clicking and dragging to the right to make the brush pretty big.

And if I start painting with black on this layer, you can see I can just paint in exactly where I want that pink flower to show up. And if I take a look at the layer mask, everywhere there is gray-- in this case because my Opacity value is set to 56%. Everywhere where there is a gray, I'm going to start seeing the pink flower below. I can make the brush a little bit smaller by using my left bracket as well, a different technique. I'll type 0 to get my opacity back to 100%, and then I can paint in somewhere else where I want that pink flower to show. So, here I'm just getting a natural blend between the two layers simply by painting with black, white or gray on the layer mask.

If I want to bring some of the white flower back, I'll press X to exchange the foreground and background colors and I'll paint with the opposite color back over where I had previously painted with black. Now what you might want to do instead is actually have this gradual blend between the two in a nice smooth fashion. Of course, that would be using a gradient. So, I'm going to press the G key in my keyboard to switch to the Gradient tool. And the default gradient is from the foreground color to the background color, which happens to be white to black. And you can see I get a little preview of what that gradient looks like.

So, I'm going to start clicking and dragging with the Gradient tool. I still have my layer mask selected over here in the Layers panel. I'm going to go ahead and click and drag to drag out a gradient. Now, the default gradient replaces everything that's on the layer mask already. So, all that painting that I've done is replaced with this smooth from white to black gradient and gray in between. Everywhere there is black on that layer mask thumbnail, I'm hiding the Daisy flower. Everywhere it's white, I'm revealing the Daisy flower. So, where I see black here that's where I'm going to see the pink flower behind that other layer.

Now where you drag actually makes a difference. So, where you click is where the gradient begins and where you let go is where the gradient ends. And then it does gray transition between the two clicks. If I drag really far from left to right, let's say, you can see I get a much smoother transition between black and white or between opaque and transparent. Everytime you drag with the default gradient, you are replacing the previous gradient. You can go at an angle as well. If I do a really short drag, you'll see I get a very sharp transition between the two.

If I drag further, I get a smoother blend. So, you really need to just decide where you want these two images to blend together. If I want to go from here to here, you can see that now I don't want those two yellow centers to be seen at the same time. So, I'm just going to click and drag and kind of do something like that. Now if you want to be a little bit more creative and actually build up the gradient layer mask, you can change the type of gradient you use. Instead of from white to black, you can click up here on the little up the little ramp up here and go from foreground to transparent. So, I'm going to go ahead and click that second gradient option there.

And what this does is instead of replacing the current gradient on the layer mask, it's going to add it to the layer mask. So, I can actually build up multiple strokes here. I'm going to switch my colors from white to black to black and white. I'm going to press X to exchange my foreground and background colors. And now you can see, as I click and drag multiple times, I'm actually getting this custom blend between the two by just doing multiple drags and if you kind of take a look at the thumbnail over here in the layer mask, you're actually seeing this custom mask being built. If you ever want to see the mask by itself in a large view here, hold down the Option or Alt key and click on the layer mask itself.

And then you'll see what that mask looks like in full size there, instead of just relying on just a little tiny thumbnail there. Option+Click or Alt+Click to bring the image back. It's a way to temporarily view that layer mask in isolation just by Option+Clicking or Alt+ Clicking on the thumbnail itself. So, there you have it, a basic technique of blending multiple layers together just by throwing on a layer mask on the given layer and then using the Gradient tool to really dial in where you want that blend to happen between those two layers.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS5 Essential Training
Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

154 video lessons · 93440 viewers

Michael Ninness
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 6m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. What is Photoshop?
      2m 49s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 34s
  2. 28m 29s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      1m 54s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      3m 39s
    3. A tour of the different workspaces in Adobe Bridge
      4m 58s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      3m 35s
    5. Changing obscure camera file names with the Batch Rename command
      2m 36s
    6. Adding basic metadata to every image with metadata templates
      3m 36s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      4m 6s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      4m 5s
  3. 23m 4s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejects
      5m 27s
    2. Protecting the keepers by saving them in collections
      3m 18s
    3. Rating images
      3m 15s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      4m 43s
    5. Viewing final choices in a slideshow
      2m 12s
    6. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      4m 9s
  4. 30m 50s
    1. Raw vs. JPEG files
      5m 13s
    2. Why you should start in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      5m 9s
    3. A tour of the Camera Raw user interface
      6m 44s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments
      4m 2s
    5. Toggling onscreen Shadow/Highlight clipping warnings
      2m 37s
    6. Choosing output settings
      2m 45s
    7. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      4m 20s
  5. 41m 34s
    1. Eliminating red-eye with the Red Eye Removal tool
      1m 13s
    2. Improving composition with the non-destructive Crop tool
      3m 33s
    3. Correcting a rotated horizon line with the Straighten tool
      3m 5s
    4. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      2m 13s
    5. Fixing blown-out highlights with Recovery
      2m 36s
    6. Revealing hidden shadow detail with Fill Light
      1m 47s
    7. Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction
      5m 37s
    8. Removing color fringes with Chromatic Aberration
      2m 36s
    9. Sharpening the details
      8m 59s
    10. End to end: Taking a so-so photo and making it great
      9m 55s
  6. 39m 5s
    1. Fixing blown-out skies with the Graduated Filter tool
      4m 34s
    2. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      5m 41s
    3. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush
      4m 28s
    4. Quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      4m 33s
    5. Converting to black and white
      3m 36s
    6. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustments tool
      4m 18s
    7. Easy sepia and split tone effects
      2m 35s
    8. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 46s
    9. Adding vignettes and border effects
      2m 13s
    10. Saving variations within a single file with Snapshots
      4m 21s
  7. 15m 48s
    1. Copying settings from one file and pasting across another in Adobe Bridge
      3m 7s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      2m 28s
    3. Saving and using a library of Camera Raw presets
      5m 33s
    4. Using Image Processor to batch process multiple files
      4m 40s
  8. 30m 39s
    1. Opening files from Adobe Bridge
      3m 1s
    2. Opening files from Mini Bridge
      3m 28s
    3. Customizing the Mini Bridge panel
      2m 57s
    4. Changing Mini Bridge so it auto-collapses
      1m 20s
    5. The Application frame
      2m 16s
    6. The Application bar
      1m 16s
    7. Switching and saving workspaces
      4m 23s
    8. Panel management
      5m 31s
    9. Switching tools using the keyboard
      3m 18s
    10. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      3m 9s
  9. 16m 12s
    1. Tabbed documents
      2m 1s
    2. The Arrange Documents widget
      1m 38s
    3. How to stop Photoshop from tabbing documents
      3m 34s
    4. Pan and zoom
      5m 21s
    5. Cycling through the different screen modes
      3m 38s
  10. 36m 59s
    1. File formats
      13m 6s
    2. What resolution does your image need to be?
      10m 15s
    3. Resize vs. Resample
      9m 40s
    4. How big a print can you make with your image?
      3m 58s
  11. 42m 17s
    1. Crop options
      4m 12s
    2. Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      3m 30s
    3. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
      1m 34s
    4. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      6m 1s
    5. Making the canvas bigger by a specific amount with Relative Canvas Size
      1m 39s
    6. Correcting perspective with the Crop tool
      3m 5s
    7. Straightening a crooked image
      50s
    8. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      4m 12s
    9. Nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      4m 2s
    10. Warping images
      3m 40s
    11. Preserving the important elements with Content-Aware Scaling
      9m 32s
  12. 54m 42s
    1. The Background layer
      5m 14s
    2. Using a layer mask instead of deleting pixels
      4m 12s
    3. Loading multiple images into a single Photoshop document as layers
      1m 30s
    4. Naming, hiding, creating, and deleting layers
      4m 18s
    5. Changing the stacking order of layers
      2m 51s
    6. Selecting layers without using the Layers panel
      6m 28s
    7. Transforming layers
      7m 16s
    8. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 51s
    9. Changing the opacity of layers
      2m 57s
    10. Organizing layers into groups
      2m 55s
    11. Saving variations with layer comps
      5m 3s
    12. When to merge and rasterize layers
      5m 0s
    13. Flatten vs. Save As (a Copy)
      3m 7s
  13. 1h 4m
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      7m 23s
    2. Transform selections
      2m 40s
    3. Quick Mask is your friend
      4m 31s
    4. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      6m 33s
    5. Using the Quick Selection tool
      3m 1s
    6. Re-selecting a previous selection
      1m 35s
    7. Improving a selection with Refine Edge
      4m 21s
    8. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      12m 7s
    9. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      2m 59s
    10. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      4m 53s
    11. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      3m 53s
    12. Combining multiple exposures with the Blend If sliders
      6m 26s
    13. Replacing the sky in an image
      4m 19s
  14. 1h 1m
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      7m 57s
    2. Starting with a preset
      4m 25s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      10m 28s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      5m 4s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      5m 56s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      2m 55s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      9m 0s
    8. Making washed out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 46s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      5m 49s
    10. Controlling which layers are affected by an Adjustment Layer
      7m 28s
  15. 11m 32s
    1. Shadow/Highlight
      9m 3s
    2. Matching color across multiple images
      2m 29s
  16. 34m 12s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Spot Healing brush
      6m 21s
    2. Quick technique for smoothing skin and pores
      8m 23s
    3. Taming flyaway hair
      4m 47s
    4. Making teeth bright and white
      1m 43s
    5. De-emphasizing wrinkles
      4m 41s
    6. Removing unwanted details with Content Aware Fill
      4m 26s
    7. Body sculpting with Liquify
      3m 51s
  17. 21m 6s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      7m 20s
    2. Combining multiple frames of an action sequence
      8m 30s
    3. Combining group shots with Auto-Align
      5m 16s
  18. 25m 36s
    1. Overview of filters
      4m 6s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively with Smart Filters
      4m 45s
    3. Giving an image a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      4m 41s
    4. Adding noise to an image with the Add Noise filter
      3m 34s
    5. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask
      4m 12s
    6. Giving an image more texture with the Texturizer
      1m 17s
    7. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      3m 1s
  19. 30m 44s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      4m 43s
    2. Three blending modes you must know
      6m 41s
    3. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      3m 33s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      4m 33s
    5. Creating a diffused contrast glow effect with Overlay
      6m 2s
    6. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      5m 12s
  20. 21m 39s
    1. Character (point) type
      8m 19s
    2. Paragraph (area) type
      4m 42s
    3. Type on a path
      2m 54s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      2m 24s
    5. Warping type
      3m 20s
  21. 20m 35s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect
      4m 43s
    2. Adding an outer glow effect
      3m 13s
    3. Adding a border around an image
      2m 53s
    4. Copying layer effects and applying them to other layers
      2m 3s
    5. Saving layer styles and applying them in other documents
      2m 42s
    6. How (and when) to scale layer effects
      5m 1s
  22. 16m 6s
    1. Creating PDF contact sheets
      6m 41s
    2. Exporting web photo galleries
      6m 8s
    3. Saving for the web
      3m 17s
  23. 1m 19s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 19s

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