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A lot of people tend to be intimidated by masks, but once you learn how to use them, you'll more than likely begin to love them. Whether you want to replace a background or add something new into an image, masking is something you need to know how to do to get the results you need. In this image of a cowboy the sky is completely faded to white. I'd like to put in some clouds to add more character. Begin by duplicating your image, with Ctrl+J or Command+J on a Mac. And then before we get into making the actual mask, I want to go over something that may be an issue in a lot of these old images that have the skies that have gone to white and light colors of the foreground image.
Let's move in a little closer with Ctrl+Plus or Command+Plus. You can see these areas of the sleeves right here on the horse's rump and a couple other places. It's pretty much the same color as the background, and that's going to get in the way of making our mask. So what we can do in that instance is we're going to make a little bit of a throwaway layer to help us. We'll go first to the Create a new fill or adjustment layer at the bottom of the Layers panel, and we'll go to Curves. And we're going to bring the Histogram down to the lower right-hand corner.
So this is a throwaway, so it doesn't matter if it's ghastly or not. Now we're going to invert the mask, Ctrl+I or Command+I, and we're just going to go over, with our Brush tool, some of the areas that are very much like the color of the background, just the lighter areas here. That's not really a part of it. There. Get his sleeve and this one. And his hat's very faint.
This could help you avoid a lot of extra work later, just doing this right now. This is a little far out, so if it is into the background, you can just whittle away at it by inverting your foreground color to black and brushing it out. So now we're going to combine all our layers: Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E on a PC, Shift+Command+Option+E on a Mac. Then we can go ahead and throw our Curves layer out, and let's zoom out here.
And go over to your Magic Wand tool and just click. You can see this is obviously really messy because we had a lot of specks and spots and variation. So you can clean it up with your Quick Selection tool, adjust your brush size, if you like, with your open and close bracket keys, and just paint in those areas. It followed it pretty well here, but it didn't quite get this sleeve in here.
I must've left something a little light, that the marching ants got through. And I also see a little area over here I missed. That happens. Just hold your Alt key down and grab those areas, this little tree right here and his sleeve. And you can always of course adjust on the mask itself. But you get the idea here. Then we'll go down to the bottom of our Layers panel and add a layer mask.
Now, if we take our background visibility away, you can see that the mask is the wrong direction. It's showing the sky, and the foreground is gone, and we want it to be the opposite. So with your mask selected, use Ctrl+I or Command+I to invert. Now it's all ready to drop the sky in, which we'll do with this image. Once you have your sky image up, Ctrl+A or Command+A to select your whole image, then Ctrl+C or Command+C to copy.
Now go back to your original image, make sure your mask is selected, and hold down your Ctrl or Command key and click on it--and that selected this part. We want to select the other part: Select > Inverse. Now let's go up to Edit > Paste Special > Paste Into, and there's our sky. Now we still have this black line around here. We want to get rid of that. We have to bring the visibility back with our dropper and then just take this one and you can throw it away now. That's our throwaway layer.
In our next video we're going to learn how to incorporate a new sky in with an old picture. Masking is a great way to remove unwanted space from an image in most cases. It's a skill you should learn and master if you're going to do any kind of photo editing at all, including the editing you'll need to do in digital photo restoration.
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