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Photoshop CS5 for Photographers provides comprehensive Photoshop training targeting the needs of photographers. In this course, author Chris Orwig demonstrates the fundamental skills used to enhance digital photos, including managing and correcting color, sharpening, making selections and adjustments, retouching, and printing from Photoshop. In addition to teaching the techniques that enable photographers to refine and publish their photos, the course includes live-action segments that encourage thinking photographically and shooting with Photoshop’s capabilities in mind. Exercise files are included with the course.
One interesting aspect or feature in regards to layers is what's called a layer clipping mask. Layer clipping masks are actually quite fascinating, because what they allow us to do is to apply content from one layer just to another layer. In other words, we can apply something, so that it doesn't affect the entire image. Well, I understand that this concept is a little bit abstract. Let's try to break this down for size. Here we have this portrait that I took of this surfer at sunrise in Santa Barbara, and I have a couple of other layers here.
Well, if I turned on my type layer, we'll see that I typed out the word sunrise. This is a regular type layer. Well, above that layer I have another layer, which is simply filled with a solid color, in this case, orange. Well, this orange color is affecting everything. It's overpowering everything. It's covering everything. So, all that I can see is orange. What I would like to have happen is I would like this orange color just to affect the layer underneath it. Well, in order to do that, what you do is you hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC, then you hover over the dividing line between these two layers and then, when you see those two circles they overlap that icon, you click.
Now here we can see that this layer clipping mask is only affecting the underlying layer. Again, here is our before, and then here is our after. All right, interesting! Well, let's delete this layer. We'll do so by pressing the Delete key. Well, how else could this work? Let's turn off our type layer for a moment. This time, what I want to do is click in my sunrise surfer layer. I'm going to turn on the visibility of the shape layer. Let's say that I would really like to have this sunrise surfer image just fill the shape.
I don't want it to do anything else. Well, again, what we do is we put whatever we want to fill on top for the layer clipping mask, then hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC, hover over the dividing line, and then click. Now this image is only filling that particular shape. Now if ever we want to turn off or remove a layer clipping mask, hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC, hover over it once again, and click. It's now been removed. Well, how else can we do this? Well, let's try the same thing with our type layer.
Again, we'll go ahead and click the image above the type layer, hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on a PC, and then click in between these two layers. Let's turn off the shape here so we can see this. In this case, this image is now filling my text layer. Now at this point, this is just kind of a fun, creative effect. But later when we start to get into working with adjustment layers and to making adjustments, layer clipping masks are going to be something that we're going to be using quite often. Yet at this juncture, all that you need to know is that there is a way to create a layer, and have that layer only affect the contents underneath it.
That's called a layer clipping mask.
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