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Learn how to use selections and layer masks in Photoshop to create composite images and apply targeted adjustments. After covering the key concepts behind selections and exploring Photoshop's selection tools, Tim Grey delves into a variety of advanced techniques that will help you make accurate selections, create seamless composite images, and apply adjustments that do exactly what you want them to do.
Producing a composite image involves creating a Layer Mask for one or more of your Image Layers, where white on that Layer Mask causes portions of the image to be revealed. And black on the Layer Mask causes potions of the image to be blocked. For example, with this image I could block the pixels in the sky in order to reveal the pixels in the sky below, in this case a cloudy sky. And since we're using black and white to determine which areas of this image are visible versus which areas of the clouds below will show through, you might assume that you'll only be able to use a tool like the Brush tool to paint with black or white on the Layer Mask.
But you can actually use a selection as the basis of a Layer Mask as well. Let me show you how it works. I'm going to start off by creating a selection of the building here. But actually it's going to be much easier to create a selection of the sky. So I'll start there and then invert my selection. I'll choose the Quick Selection tool from the toolbox. And then click and drag throughout the sky in order to sample portions of the sky and create a selection. I have a small portion of the building that's also selected so I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh.
And then paint over the areas of the building that are included in the selection, but should not be. That looks to be pretty good. Obviously, if I were really trying to produce a perfect composite, I would Zoom in and check very carefully. Although I can also clean up the layer mask later if needed. But again, I wanted to select the building, not the sky, so I'll go ahead and invert that selection. I'll do that by choosing Select Inverse from the menu and now I have the building selected. So all I need to do in order to mask out the sky, so that the only building is visible on this layer. And therefore the cloudy sky of the image layer below will show through. I just need to add a layer mask.
Because I have an active selection in my image, when I add a Layer Mask for my Building Layer, that Layer Mask will automatically reflect the shape of the selection. So now that I have that selection active for my building, and my Building Layer is active on the Layers panel, I'll go down to the bottom of the Layers panel and click on the Add Layer Mask button. The circle inside of a square icon. And when I do so, I have my composite. So the selected area is now white on my Layer Mask, and the deselected area is black on my Layer Mask.
So the sky in my Building Layer has been blocked, allowing the underlying sky to show through, whereas the building is revealed. So I can see the building, but nothing else, for this particular layer, and that allows whatever else is underneath, in this case a cloudy sky, to show through.
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