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Learn how to use selections and layer masks in Photoshop to create composite images and apply targeted adjustments. After covering the key concepts behind selections and exploring Photoshop's selection tools, Tim Grey delves into a variety of advanced techniques that will help you make accurate selections, create seamless composite images, and apply adjustments that do exactly what you want them to do.
When you need to create a layer mask to produce a composite image, you have two basic options for getting started. You can create a black mask as if it were, a layer mask filled with white and then paint with black to block certain areas of the image, or you can utilize a selection as the basis of that layer mask. But actually you can mix and match. You can use both of those techniques combined in order to get the best layer mask. I'll start off in this case by creating a selection of my tulip. So, I'll chose my quick selection tool and then I'm going to create a selection of just this foreground tulip. You'll notice that the selection is not exactly perfect. It's pretty good, but not perfect, but I'm just going to leave it as it is for the moment to demonstrate.
Great how we can mix and match these techniques. So with my selection active, I'm going to add a layer mask. That layer mask will block portions of my tulips layer so that the sky down below shows through. So with the tulips layer active on the Layers panel, I'll go down to the bottom of the Layers panel, and click on the Add Layer Mask button, the circle inside of a square icon. That will add a layer mask based on the selection. But I don't have to finish here. I can continue to fine-tune this layer mask using a variety of techniques, such as painting directly on the mask.
So I'll click on the thumbnail for that layer mask to make sure it's active, and then I'll chose the Brush tool. And I can press the letter D on the keyboard to make sure the colors are set to their default values of white for my foreground color and black for my background color. And then I'll make sure that the brush is configured properly. Specifically I'll want to use the normal blend mode, and a 100% opacity. I can also adjust the brush hardness if I'd like. In this case it's set to 50%, and I think that'll work pretty well. So I'll move my mouse out over the image, and adjust the brush size using the left square bracket key to reduce the brush size.
Or the right square bracket key to increase the brush size. And at this point I want to reveal pixels, so I want to paint with white. The problem is I don't know exactly where, for example the edge of the stem for the tulip actually is. So I'm sort of painting blind here. Well, the solution is to simply click and paint and reveal more than I need to reveal. So you'll see that now I have the stem and also some of the background. I'll go ahead and zoom in so that we can get a closer look. And now that I've revealed that area. I'll go ahead and block what I don't want.
So I'll press the letter x on the keyboard to switch my foreground and background colors. I'll adjust the brush size as needed. And now I can paint with black right along the edge of the stem of the tulip, so that I am blocking the pixels. Outside of that stem. I'll then of course clean up the rest of this area here. And up there's a little bit of area that needs to be touched up. And I can continue in this way, cleaning up that edge. So first, I will start off by revealing more than I actually need. And then I'll go back and clean things up as needed. So once again I can start with the selection in order to create my basic layer mask, and then use the brush tool as needed to paint with black to block certain areas, or white to reveal certain areas in order to fine tune that layer mask.
So here, for example, the selection gave me a really good starting point, but there's some additional work needed to clean up that selection. And so I'll work directly on the layer mask in order to clean up all of those areas where the selection wasn't quite perfect.
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