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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.
When you are working with layer masks, one of the things you might want to do is take advantage of one of the newer features, the Refine Mask or Refine Edge command to basically change the quality of your mask. So let's begin by getting a selection and turning that into a layer mask. This file actually has an Alpha channel build into it, so I'm going to the Channels tab of my panel here. And I'm going to Command-click or Ctrl-click on this Alpha 1 channel that will load that as a selection and then we are going to back to the Layers panel. I'm going to select the Flower layer and convert that selection into a layer mask.
When I do that that layer mask is now targeted, it's the active thing in that layer. And to bring up the Refine Mask command, you can either click on the Masks panel and click the Mask Edge button or it actually has its own keyboard shortcut. It's Command+Option+R or Ctrl+Alt+ R and that brings up the Refine Mask dialog. Now there is a lots of different preview options here, normally outside of this dialog box. If I press the letter F, this will change how the mask is being viewed against a particular background. So here it is just seen as a marching ants mask edge there against transparent background. Here I see the mask as an overlay against a black background. Pressing F each time here. Against a white background and then as an Alpha channel.
If I press the X key on my keyboard, that shows me the original image versus the current mask view. So it's a toggle, X back and forth between the two. So if I press F to go to one of these other mask views, again X will toggle back and forth between these. As I adjust the mask using the settings, so if I change the Radius, let me cycle through to a white background or a black background. If I smooth it, and feather it, and contract it or expand it or whatever. If I want to see the original mask versus this new modified one since I have been using these sliders, the P key will toggle the preview on and off.
So Command+Option+R, Ctrl+Alt+R to bring open the dialog and then once you are in there, the F key to cycle through the different screen modes, the P key to cycle through the preview of the before mask and after mask, and then the X key to toggle the current view against the regular mask background.
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