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Using vector masks with layer masks

From: Photoshop CS4: Layer Masks in Depth

Video: Using vector masks with layer masks

In this movie, I'd like to show you a couple of ways in which vector masks and layer masks inter-relate. The first thing I want to tell you is that you can use both a layer mask and a vector mask on the very same layer. Why would you want to do that? Because there are some things you can do on a layer mask that you cannot do on a vector mask. For example, let's say that I want to hide some of the snowflakes here and I'd like to make the girl's white sweater somewhat translucent so we can see down through it, to the winter scene below. You've learned in other movies that you can do that using a layer mask to which you've added a gray-scale Gradient to gradually fade content.

Using vector masks with layer masks

In this movie, I'd like to show you a couple of ways in which vector masks and layer masks inter-relate. The first thing I want to tell you is that you can use both a layer mask and a vector mask on the very same layer. Why would you want to do that? Because there are some things you can do on a layer mask that you cannot do on a vector mask. For example, let's say that I want to hide some of the snowflakes here and I'd like to make the girl's white sweater somewhat translucent so we can see down through it, to the winter scene below. You've learned in other movies that you can do that using a layer mask to which you've added a gray-scale Gradient to gradually fade content.

But here on the girl layer, where I have a vector mask, I can't do that. If I select the vector mask and then I get the Gradient tool and I try to draw a Gradient, I end up drawing the Gradient on the image itself, rather than on the vector mask. I'm going to undo by pressing Command+Z on the Mac, Ctrl+Z on the PC. So, if I want to gradually fade those parts of the image out, I'm going to have to add a layer mask in addition to the vector mask. That's easy to do, all I have to do is make sure that girl layer is selected and then go down to the bottom of the Layers panel and click on the Add Layer Mask icon as usual.

Now, there are three thumbnails on the girl layer. The image thumbnail on the left, the vector mask thumbnail on the right and the new layer mask thumbnail in between, that's filled with white pixels, so it's currently having no effect on the image. It doesn't matter whether the vector mask thumbnail is highlighted or not, I'm going to click on it, so that it's not highlighted, so that I don't have to look at the outline around the sweater and snowflakes. I still have the layer mask thumbnail targeted in the Layers panel and I'm now going to add a gray-scale Gradient to that layer mask, as I've showed you how to do earlier in other movies.

So I'll get the Gradient tool, I have black as my foreground color and white as my background color, and in this Options Bar, I have the Linear Gradient shape selected. I'll move into the image and I'm going to start down here at the bottom and I'll drag a Gradient line up. As you can see, the gray-scale Gradient on the layer mask is now hiding part of the content of the girl layer, including part of the content that lives on the vector mask. Like these snowflakes down here at the bottom. If I want to fine-tune that mask, I could paint on the mask, or I could make a selection and fill it with gray, or black, or white.

So that's how a layer mask and a vector mask can be used together. The layer mask to create a gradual fade, or a soft edge painted area, and the vector mask to create hard, crisp outlines. Now I'm going to delete that layer mask by clicking on it and dragging down to the Trash Can at the bottom of the Layers panel, and I'll click Delete. I'm doing that because I want to work only with the layer mask for now. Because what I'd like to show you is that there may be times when you need to do something to a mask that you can't do on a vector mask. For example, let's say that I wanted to filter this mask, or I wanted to paint on this mask.

I can't do it on the vector mask but I can do it if I convert the vector mask into a layer mask, and here's how you do that. I'll select the vector mask on the girl layer and then I'm going to go up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen, and I'm going to go down to Rasterize, which is a fancy word for converting to a pixel-based image. From there I'll choose Rasterize > Vector Mask, and that's all I have to do to turn that vector mask into a regular layer mask. With that layer mask highlighted in the Layers panel. You can tell it's a layer mask because it tells you that right up here in the Masks panel, where it says Pixel Mask.

Now that that's a regular layer mask, I can do anything I normally could do with a layer mask. So for example, I could run a filter on this layer mask. With the layer mask thumbnail selected, I'll go up to the Filter menu, and I'm going to go down to Pixelate and Color Halftone. I'll click OK, and as you can see, that filter is affecting the layer mask, not the image itself, because if I turn the layer mask off by holding the Shift key and clicking on the layer mask thumbnail, you don't see the effect of that filter.

And then I'll click on the layer mask thumbnail again to make it active. So those are a couple of ways in which layer masks and vector masks interrelate. You can use both the layer mask and a vector mask on the same layer, and if necessary, you can convert a vector mask into a layer mask so that you can paint on the mask, or filter the mask, or do other things that won't fly on a vector mask.

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This video is part of

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

51 video lessons · 30156 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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