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Here are some power shortcuts when you are working with layer masks, basic building blocks in Photoshop. Here I have got this original background image here where the tones are a little bit dark and harsh and I want to just soften just a touch. And soften the skin tone a little bit. So I duplicated the layer and I just used Gaussian Blur and I blurred like 10 pixels just to make it a nice soft blur and I set the blend mode to Screen. And that's what's given us this nice softer effect. You will see that I have a layer mask that I have already created and it's got a red X in it, that means the layer mask has been temporarily disabled. And we'll talk about that in a second.
So here is before and here is after. By turning off this soften blurred layer set to screen. I don't like what it was doing to blow out her make-up here. You don't want to see more of the detail there, so I had painted a layer mask. So to turn the layer mask on and off, you hold down the Shift key and click on the layer mask itself and that just temporarily disables it. And gives you the red X. If you ever want to see the layer mask by it as a grayscale image, hold down the Option key and click on the mask there. And then you will see it as a gray scale alpha channel, so to speak.
And sometimes it's helpful to dial in and actually see where you have painted, black means protected whitening selected and then everything that's gray is partially in between. So it just gives you a better visualization sometimes. Option or Alt-click again to bring the mask back and view the image as the composite, Shift-click to turn it off, Shift-click again to toggle it. Option+Shift or Alt+Shift lets you see the layer mask as an overlay on top of the image, so we go from good Megan to evil Megan with red glowing eyes there.
The red is just an overlay so you can visualize the mask at the same time. There is another shortcut for seeing the mask as an overlay, if you hit your Backslash key on your keyboard, that's a very quick way just to toggle the layer mask as an overlay on and off. So there you have it, some nice shortcuts for viewing your layer masks.
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