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Painting on a layer mask

From: Photoshop CS4: Layer Masks in Depth

Video: Painting on a layer mask

The heart of layer masking is adding black, white and sometimes gray pixels to a layer mask, in order to hide and show different parts of the content of the layer to which the mask is attached. One way to add black, white, or gray to a layer mask is to paint it on using the Brush tool or another Photoshop painting tool. In this case, I'm using the same image that I used in the preceding movies, in which there are two layers. A photograph on the layer below, and this entire image that you see here, the paintbrush, the hand, and these white pixels around those items.

Painting on a layer mask

The heart of layer masking is adding black, white and sometimes gray pixels to a layer mask, in order to hide and show different parts of the content of the layer to which the mask is attached. One way to add black, white, or gray to a layer mask is to paint it on using the Brush tool or another Photoshop painting tool. In this case, I'm using the same image that I used in the preceding movies, in which there are two layers. A photograph on the layer below, and this entire image that you see here, the paintbrush, the hand, and these white pixels around those items.

What I would like to do is to hide some of these white pixels in the shape of brush strokes, showing down through to the photo on the layer below. I could permanently erase parts of the paintbrush layer by getting the Eraser tool and drawing with that tool right on the image itself. But I don't want to do that, because I want to give myself room to change my mind, and work in a way that is non-destructive and reversible. So I'm going to paint on the layer mask that I have already added to the Paint Brush layer. I'll click on that layer mask which is right here, to make sure that I have the layer mask active.

You can see that the layer mask is filled with white pixels, which is the default state when you add a layer mask, as I explained in earlier movies in this chapter. The white pixels on the layer mask are revealing everything on the paintbrush layer right now. And I'm going to paint in the layer mask with some black and some gray pixels. So I'm going to go to the Toolbox and I'm going to select the Brush tool here. Then I'm going to go up to the Options bar for the Brush tool. I don't want to use a plain round brush. I would like to use a brush with an uneven edge.

So I'm going to click the arrow to the left of this first Brush field here and that opens the Brush preset picker. Here I can see a thumbnail for all of the brush tips that come with the default set of Photoshop brushes. I'll scroll down, and here I have some uneven looking brushes. I'm going to select this 48 pixel brush right here, and then I'm going to click in a blank area of the Options bar to close that brush preset picker. Then I'm going to look at the foreground color box here. I want to make sure that I have black as my color here.

Because I want to paint with black pixels in order to hide parts of the paintbrush layer. If I didn't have black pixels here, I would press D key on my keyboard to set the foreground color to white, and then the X key to switch it to black, or you can do the same thing by clicking these two little squares right here, and then the double pointed arrow. Now that I have paint and I have pixilated Brush tool ready to go and I have my layer mask thumbnail selected, I'm going to come in and I'm just going to drag a few strokes like this, hiding parts of the paintbrush layer.

You'll notice in the layer mask thumbnail that you can see the black paint that's hiding the corresponding pixels on the paintbrush layer. Now you'll notice that with one of my strokes, I have actually painted over the tip of this paintbrush, and I didn't mean to do that. But it's no problem. The beauty of using a layer mask is that I can come back in and paint with white, to bring that part of the image back. To switch my foreground color to white, I'm going to press the X key on my keyboard. And then I'll come in and I'm just going to paint around the bottom of the paintbrush there.

So this is one of the big benefits of using a layer mask, which is that you can reverse what you have done by painting with black and then coming back and painting over the same area with white. Now I also can also paint with gray on this layer mask. Doing that will partially hide the corresponding part of the image. So with the layer mask thumbnail still selected on the paintbrush layer. I'm going to go to the foreground color box here and I'm going to make sure that I have my foreground color set to black. I'll press the X key on my keyboard to do that.

Then I'm going to go up to the Options bar for the selected Brush tool and I'm going to lower the Opacity of the brush. That will allow me to paint with gray rather than black. I'll click-and-drag to the left and I'll put the brush Opacity at something like 50%. Now I'm going to come in and make some strokes with gray and you can see that what's happening here is that I'm partially hiding some white pixels on the Paint Brush layer, so that you can partially see down through the photo layer below. Another way to paint with gray is to come to the foreground color box, click in the foreground color box, and choose a shade of gray from the color picker.

But I think it's faster and easier to just reduce the Opacity of the Brush tool. Painting on a layer mask with black, white or gray is something that I do all the time when I'm making composites of multiple images, when I blending various exposures of a shot, when I'm adjusting part of an image, or when I'm making other special effects that I'll be showing in this course. But keep in mind that painting on a layer mask is just one way to add black white or gray pixels to a layer mask. I'll be showing you a couple of other ways to add those pixels to your layer masks in later movies in this course.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4: Layer Masks in Depth
Photoshop CS4: Layer Masks in Depth

51 video lessons · 30193 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 5s
    3. Making a course workspace
      2m 57s
  2. 47m 20s
    1. What is a layer mask?
      4m 25s
    2. What are layer masks used for?
      6m 15s
    3. Introducing the Masks panel
      6m 43s
    4. Adding a layer mask
      4m 28s
    5. Converting a background layer for masking
      2m 58s
    6. Targeting a layer mask
      4m 2s
    7. Painting on a layer mask
      5m 2s
    8. Viewing a layer mask
      5m 31s
    9. Disabling a layer mask
      1m 54s
    10. Deleting and applying layer masks
      3m 29s
    11. Saving layer masks with a file
      2m 33s
  3. 30m 25s
    1. Filling a selection on a layer mask
      8m 0s
    2. Making a layer mask from a selection of the foreground
      4m 8s
    3. Making a layer mask from a selection of the background
      4m 12s
    4. Adding a gradient to a layer mask
      7m 47s
    5. Pasting into a layer mask
      6m 18s
  4. 19m 13s
    1. Adjusting mask density
      4m 1s
    2. Feathering masks
      5m 44s
    3. Fine-tuning mask edges
      9m 28s
  5. 47m 9s
    1. Moving and copying layer masks
      6m 42s
    2. Inverting layer masks
      3m 40s
    3. Loading selections from layer masks
      1m 38s
    4. Unlinking layer masks
      4m 46s
    5. Filtering layer masks
      4m 0s
    6. Adding adjustments to layer masks
      4m 46s
    7. Adding layer masks to layer groups
      8m 48s
    8. Adding layer masks to Smart Objects
      6m 26s
    9. Using layer masks with layer styles
      6m 23s
  6. 12m 21s
    1. Creating vector masks
      5m 4s
    2. Editing vector masks
      2m 53s
    3. Using vector masks with layer masks
      4m 24s
  7. 41m 38s
    1. Combining images
      9m 42s
    2. Replacing a background
      7m 48s
    3. Putting an object inside another
      6m 57s
    4. Pasting into a selection
      3m 57s
    5. Intersecting objects
      6m 26s
    6. Limiting a fill layer
      6m 48s
  8. 55m 45s
    1. Limiting adjustment layers
      7m 20s
    2. Adding grayscale pixels to an adjustment layer mask
      5m 4s
    3. Copying adjustment layer masks
      5m 14s
    4. Applying blend modes selectively
      2m 51s
    5. Retouching portraits selectively
      5m 43s
    6. Combining bracketed exposures
      8m 18s
    7. Combining Camera Raw exposures
      6m 56s
    8. Manipulating depth of field
      4m 41s
    9. Targeting image sharpening
      5m 36s
    10. Framing photographs
      4m 2s
  9. 56s
    1. Goodbye
      56s

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