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When you're working with a layer mask one of the key things to keep in mind is that black blocks and white reveals. And when we're working with a targeted adjustment in other words, a layer mask working with an adjustment layer, black is blocking the effect of that adjustment and white is revealing the effect. But we also, of course, have lots of shades of gray in between black and white. And we can use those shades of gray in conjuction with a layer mask as well. Let's take a look at a basic example here. I'll go ahead and add a new adjustment layer.
I'll click on the Add Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. And I'll just add a levels adjustment in this case. And then I'll adjust the midtone slider over toward the right in order to apply a darkening effect. And I'm going to apply an exaggerated darkening effect just so that we can have a better sense of exactly what's going on when we utilize shades of gray. So with my adjustment layer created I'm actually going to invert my layer mask so that it is black instead of white. And so the adjustment is not visible anywhere in the image. I'll just choose the Masks tab on the Properties panel.
And then I'll scroll down so I can see the Invert button and I will click that button so that I've inverted my layer mask from white to black. Now I'll choose the Brush tool and I'll press the letter D on the keyboard to make sure the colors are set to their default values of black and white. And now I can paint into the image in order to reveal the adjustment. I'll adjust my brush size as needed with left and right square bracket keys and then if I paint with white I'm revealing that darkening adjustment and you can see I have a rather strong darkening in the image.
So, black is blocking the adjustment for most of the image and white is revealing the adjustment for this stripe. But I can also utilize shades of gray in order to have a partial effect. To change the color I'll go ahead and click on the foreground color swatch on the toolbox. That will bring up the color picker. And here I can choose the specific shade of gray I want. But how am I suppose to choose a particular shade. Well black blocks an adjustment and white reveals an adjustment. Black has a zero brightness and white has a 100% brightness. Which means by adjusting the brightness I can effectively determine. What percentage of that adjustment I want to have affective. So I'll change my brightness value the B value for HSB to a different value. Instead of 100 for a complete effect, I'll go ahead and type 75 and then click okay and now I'm painting with a shade of grey that is 75% white. And, so, if I paint it again, I'll have a little bit less of an effect. I'll go ahead and click on that color swatch again and change the brightness value to a 50% and then I'll paint once again and you can see. Even less of an effect.
So, by adjusting the brightness, the specific shade of gray that I'm painting with I can determine to what extent an adjustment is going to effect the image. So here, for example, you can see a 100% effect, a 75% effect and a 50% effect, but the key is that by using shades of gray rather than just black and white, I'm able to vary the effect of an adjustment In an image.
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