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In this movie, I'll show you how to convert a path outline to a vector-based layer mask, which is a little trickier than it ought to be, I think. And then I'll show you how to adjust that mask, so it exactly fits the image. So, if you're working along with me, you want to make sure that you have your Paths panel open. Go ahead and click on the magazine outline path to select it, and you'll see this razor-thin gray outline tracing around the magazine. Now, notice down here, an icon has been added to the Paths panel in CS6, and it's this guy: Add layer mask.
Now, you would think if you click on it, it would convert the path to a mask, but that's not what happens. Instead, if you click Add layer mask, nothing changes oscreen. What's happened is Photoshop has gone ahead and added a blank layer mask to our magazine layer, and that's not what we want at all. So I will press Control+Z, or Command+Z on a Mac. If you want to create a pixel-based mask, then you'd return to the Paths panel, and press the Control key, or the Command key on a Mac, and click on the thumbnail for that path to convert the path to a selection outline, and deselect the path as well.
And now if you drop down to the Add layer mask icon, and click on it, then you convert the selection into a pixel-based mask. And you can see, if I switch back to the Layers panel, and Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask thumbnail, the area that's painted white is going to reveal the magazine, and the area that's painted black is going to conceal the background. Now that looks great. I have to say, we have a very smooth layer mask, but because it's made up of pixels, we'll no longer be able to edit it as a path outline. Now, this can be useful if you want to introduce some sort of softness, or fuzziness to the mask, or if you want to add a gradient, but if you want to maintain sharp outlines, and you want those outlines to be scalable as well -- say you wanted to up-sample the image, and you wanted its edges to remain absolutely razor-sharp -- in that case, you need a vector mask.
So I'll press Control+Z, or Command+Z on a Mac, to undo the creation of that layer mask, and then I'll press Control+D, or Command+D on the Mac, to deselect the image. Now I'll switch back to the Paths panel, and once again select that magazine outline path. Here is what you want to do if you want to create a vector mask. You drop down to the Add layer mask icon, either here, or in the Layers panel, and you press the Control key, or the Command key on the Mac, and click on it. And now we've got a vector mask, as warranted by the addition of this item here: magazine Vector Mask.
Magazine, by the way, is the name of the active layer. All right. I am going to click down here in the empty region in order to deselect that path outline, and then I am going to switch back to the Layers panel. And note, by the way, the synthetic wood in the background. If you're interested in creating this effect, then you can check out my course, Deke's Techniques, which is part of the lynda.com Online Training Library. It's movie 37; that is 037, and it's called Creating Synthetic Wood Grain. All right. Now that we've managed to mask the magazine using a path outline, I am going to go ahead and zoom in, and check out the details here, and you can see we've got a little bit of a problem up here at the crease at the top of the magazine.
We've got a kind of dark edge on left side of the right page. We'll come back to that in a moment. Otherwise, things are looking to be in pretty good shape. This upper right corner looks great. The lower right corner looks even better, as you will see here. I'll go ahead and scroll my way down. This little detail, I think, really reads true. All right. I am going to zoom out a little bit; scroll over. The bottom of the magazine looks to be in good shape. The only thing that I'm really having problems with is this bright edge on the left-hand side.
Now, if I shift-click on the layer mask thumbnail here inside the Layers panel, that will turn the layer mask off, and we do actually have a bright edge over there on the left side of the magazine, but I don't think it really makes sense against this new background. So I will go ahead and Shift+Click on the vector mask thumbnail to turn it back on, and I am going to press the A key to switch to my white arrow tool. If that gets you the black arrow instead, press Shift+A. And then, I'm going to click in the corner in order to bring up the path outline that's associated with this vector mask.
I'll click again in order to select that bottom left anchor point, and then I'm going to scroll up to the top left corner, and press the Shift key, and click on its anchor points. So both the top left, and bottom left anchor points are selected, and then I'll press the right arrow key a couple of times in order to nudge that left edge over. And now I think it's looking pretty good. I'll go ahead and click on the vector mask thumbnail to hide that path outline, and I am thinking that's definitely looking better. All right! Now I am going to scroll in to the top of the magazine, because this area is a problem.
And I'll click some place at the top here with the white arrow in order to bring back my path outline. I'll go ahead and select this anchor point, and I'm going to nudge it down, and possibly over to the right, although I'm not sure if that looks right. I think I'll nudge it back to the left, and I'll cheat this control handle inward, like so, in order to shave off a little bit of the curvature of that page. Now let's see how it looks. I'll click on the vector mask thumbnail in the Layers panel in order to hide the path outline, and I would say that looks pretty darn good.
I'll press Control+0, or Command+0 on the Mac, in order to zoom out from the image. And you know what? Because it's so darn pretty, I will go ahead and press Shift+F in order to switch to the full screen mode. And that, friends, is how you create a precision path outline that contains both straight and curving segments, and then convert it into a razor-sharp vector mask here inside Photoshop.
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