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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
Did you know that you could steal selections from a layer and use them on other layers? Let me give you an example. So let's say that I wanted all of these images to be black and white but leave this one in color. Well, how would I do that? Well, I'm going to begin by applying a Black and White adjustment layer and we are going to put that at the top of the layer stack here. So that it affects all the layers below it. So I'm going to go to my Adjustments panel and there is a black and white adjustment layer. I'm just going to go with the defaults. I could tweak the settings but for demo purposes I'll just leave it as is. Now I'll collapse the Adjustments panel just by clicking on the dark gray area here.
So you can see I've got the adjustment layer here with a layer mask applied to it. What I want to do is borrow a selection from one of these layers and fill that selection with black to protect it, so that it remains in color. All you need to do to steal a selection from a given layer is hold down the Command key on the Mac or the Ctrl key on Windows and just click on that layer. So if I want the Hugging layer to be in color, I'm going to Command-click or Ctrl-click on the actual Hugging layer here, right on the thumbnail. Can you see it loads that layer's transparency as a selection? Another way of saying that is that it puts a selection around the actual pixels of that layer protecting the transparent areas.
So now I target that layer mask of the adjustment layer just by clicking on it. Making sure it's selected and I'll use my Fill command. Right now if I look at my Layers or my Tools panel here, black is my background color, white is my foreground color. If I press X, it will exchange the foreground and background colors. I'm simply going to use my Fill command with my keyboard shortcut for Fill to fill that current selection with black. So Option+Delete or Alt+Backspace. You see I've borrowed the selection from the Hugging layer and filled it with black on that layer mask. Now I didn't quite get I what I wanted. Yes the Hugging layer is now colored because I've punched a hole through that adjustment layer to reveal the Color layer underneath it. But I've also gotten some of this layer and I didn't want that. So I'm going to undo it. Command+Z or Ctrl+Z.
With this selection still going, you can do other operations. I can subtract from an existing selection, I can add to an existing selection, or I can even do an intersection. But to add, so again you hold down the Command key or the Ctrl key and just like adding with any other Selection tool, you hold down the Shift key to add. So if I Command+Shift-click, let's say on the Falling layer, I've now added that selection outline to this selection and I've got a combined selection there. So if I go back to the layer mask here again, make sure that's targeted, Option+Delete or Alt+Backspace. Now they are both colored, while the other ones are gray, okay. I still didn't get what I wanted. So I'm going to undo that.
Now I'm going to hold down the Command key again or the Ctrl key and Option. So Command+Option or Ctrl+Alt and I'm going to Command+Option-click again on the Falling layer to subtract it. Okay. You see what that did is it took a chunk out of my current selection. All right. Because I subtracted from it. So I'm going to start from scratch. I'm going to do Command+D or Ctrl+D. So I think you know where I'm going with this. I'm going to Command-click or Ctrl-click on the Hugging layer and then I'm going to Command+Option-click or Ctrl+Alt-click on the Running layer here to subtract it from that current selection. Now when I fill that selection with black, Option+Delete or Alt+Backspace, I get exactly what I wanted where I took a bite out of that selection.
So now I've got this great easy way to steal selections from one layer and use those selections somewhere else, either on another layer, or in this case, on a layer mask.
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