Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
Illustration by Don Barnett

Using masks in the new Masks panel


Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

with Jan Kabili

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Video: Using masks in the new Masks panel

There is a brand-new panel in Photoshop CS4 called the Masks panel. You can use this panel to help you to create masks, to refine their edges and to control the density or the strength of the mask on an image. You can use the Masks panel with any kind of mask, a layer mask, a vector mask, but where it really shines is when you're using it with an adjustment layer mask to limit the area where the adjustment shows up in your image. I introduced this subject in an earlier movie. Now I want to add this additional piece, which is using the Masks panel with adjustment layer masks.
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  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
7h 55m Beginner Oct 13, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Learning and customizing the interface and workspace
  • Utilizing various manual and guided selection techniques
  • Working with Adobe Camera Raw
  • Adding special effects with layer styles and Smart Filters
  • Creating Photomerge panoramas
  • Optimizing photos for the web and creating web galleries
Jan Kabili

Using masks in the new Masks panel

There is a brand-new panel in Photoshop CS4 called the Masks panel. You can use this panel to help you to create masks, to refine their edges and to control the density or the strength of the mask on an image. You can use the Masks panel with any kind of mask, a layer mask, a vector mask, but where it really shines is when you're using it with an adjustment layer mask to limit the area where the adjustment shows up in your image. I introduced this subject in an earlier movie. Now I want to add this additional piece, which is using the Masks panel with adjustment layer masks.

Take a look at this photo. It's a typical backlit photo. I shot it into the sun, so the camera exposed for the sky and now the foreground needs some tonal adjustments. It needs some whites, some blacks and a range of grays in between. But the background is probably okay as-is. So what I am going to want to do is apply a Levels adjustment layer to this image but prevent that adjustment from affecting the sky. I am going be using a Levels adjustment but the techniques I will show you using the Masks panel work with any adjustment layer.

The first step is to create a Levels adjustment layer, so I am going to go back to the Adjustments panel here and from there, I am going to click the Levels icon and then in the Levels Adjustment panel, I'm going to drag the white slider to the left. I will hold down the Option or Alt key so I can see where to stop dragging. Now notice all of these pixels that are showing up are in the sky. I am not really interested in them. I am going to let that blow out completely, and it's when I start to see bits of color in the grass that I am going to stop dragging. I am just adjusting for the foreground right now, and trying to ignore the sky.

Then I will hold Option key down, that's the Alt key on a PC, and click on the black slider and drag it to the right and right away, I start to see some pixels, so I am going to back off a little and release. And then I am going to take the gray slider and I am going to drag the left to make the foreground of the image a little bit brighter. Now it's time to visit the new Masks panel. I am going to click on the Masks tab here, and if your Masks panel isn't open, you can open it from the Window menu at the top of the screen.

The first thing I want to do is to create a masked area that will hide this adjustment from the sky. I can use any of the Selection tools or I could paint with black or make a gradient from black to white on the adjustment layer mask. But here in the Masks panel, I can click the Color Range button and make a mask directly from here. I showed you how to use the Color Range dialog box in another movie. As I showed you there, you used these eyedroppers to select an area. And you can change your Selection Preview down here from this menu.

I will leave this set to Black Matte, and I am going to get the Plus Eyedropper and I am going to click in the image on the other parts of the sky to try to select the entire sky. I think it will be easier to select the sky in this image then to try to select the land because there's less variation in the sky. Now, I noticed that I'm starting to see part of the land here, so I want to go up to my Fuzziness slider, and I am going to drag it to the left to decrease the range of tones around those I have clicked on that will be selected.

That doesn't look too bad, so I am going to click OK, and now if I go down to my adjustment layer mask, hold the Option key on a Mac or the Alt key on a PC, and click on it, I can see my mask, but this mask is upside down. I need the white part to be on the bottom to show the adjustment there, and the black part to be on the top to hide the adjustment in the sky. Let me get back to the regular view by Option or Alt+Clicking on this Levels adjustment layer mask, and then I am going to go back to the Masks panel and just click the Invert button there.

And you can see in the thumbnail that now black is on top and white is on the bottom, and in my image, the adjustment is in the foreground but the background is as it started. There is only one trouble here, and that is this transition between the area that's adjusted and the area that isn't. I need to soften that a lot. So I am going back to the Masks panel, where there are some other features that will help me. With the Levels adjustment layer mask selected in the Layers panel, I could try just dragging the Feather slider. And I can see the results right here in the image.

That doesn't look too bad. Just to show you, if I click on mask edge that opens the Refine Mask panel. I have shown you this panel in connection with selections in earlier movies. It's the same panel, with the same sliders. I can click on the first of these views to see the entire image and if I don't want to see the marching ants, I am going to hold down the Command+H keys. That's Ctrl+H on a PC. I haven't deselected the marching ants. I have just hidden them temporarily.

So here I could use these other sliders to try to smooth out the transition between the adjusted and non-adjusted area even more, but I actually think that I like the way it looks right now, so I am not going to use any of these, but I did want to show how easy it is to get to the Refined Mask panel directly from the Masks panel. I will click OK there and there is one slider in the Masks panel that I would like to show, and that's the Density slider. If I take that slider and drag to the left, I am making the entire mask a little bit see through.

So the adjustment partially affects the sky and if you look in the mask in the Levels 1 adjustment layer, I will Option or Alt+Click that. You can see that moving the Density slider has changed that mask from black to gray, and that's why it partially shows the adjustment. I will Option or Alt+Click that icon again to go back. So the new Masks panel in Photoshop CS4 really comes in handy when you are working with layer masks on an adjustment layer. It allows you to feather and adjust the density of the mask.

It helps you to create the mask by taking you right to the Color Range command, and it even will take you to the Refine Edges dialog, where you can refine the transition between the masked and the unmasked view of your adjustment layer.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS4 Essential Training .

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Q: How can artwork be transferred from Photoshop CS4 to Illustrator CS4 without the background?
A: Save the image in Photoshop’s native PSD format. The background in Photoshop must be transparent, meaning there should be no background layer. (To remove a background layer, move your artwork to a separate layer by selecting and copying the content, minus the background, to a new layer, and then delete the background layer. A checkboard pattern behind your image indicates transparent pixels.) 

In Illustrator, select File > Open, and select the PSD file. In Photoshop Import dialog box, select Convert Layers to Objects.

Q: How do I retouch an image I have of an old photograph I scanned?
A: There are a few courses that address image restoration. Check out the Photoshop CS4 Portrait Retouching Essential Training course, and for problems dealing specifically with old photographs, watch the Restoration movies in chapter 15 of the Enhancing Digital Photography with Photoshop CS2. Additionally, learn how to research and date photos with our Growing and Sharing Your Family Tree course.
Q: A client has asked for artwork to be delivered as JPEGs or BMP files in 16-bit format. In Photoshop CS4, there does not appear to be an option to save an image as a 16-bit JPEG. Is there a way to save JPEG files as 16-bit in Photoshop?
A: Unfortunately, JPEGs cannot be saved in 16 bit. JPEGs, by nature, are 8-bit. So if you open a high-bit image into Photoshop CS4, you will see no option in any of the save dialog boxes to save the file as a JPEG. You would first have to convert the image to 8 bit (by choosing Image > Mode > 8 bits/channel) and then save it as an 8-bit JPEG. If you open a high-bit image into Photoshop CS5, you will see the option to save it as a JPEG in the Save, Save As, and Save for Web dialog boxes.  But the JPEG will not be saved as 16-bit. Instead, Photoshop will downsample it to 8-bit for you  before saving it as JPEG.
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