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White reveals, black conceals

From: Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

Video: White reveals, black conceals

Before I somewhat start this exercise I should acknowledge the fact that we have seen an awful lot of layer mask so far, just about every composition we've created in the previous chapters involved at least one layer mask on one layer. However, what I'd like to do inside this exercise is familiarize you with the basic metaphor associated with the layer mask. So you understand exactly what's going on. And I'll do so in the context of this photograph. It comes to us from the Fotolia image library about what you can learn more at

White reveals, black conceals

Before I somewhat start this exercise I should acknowledge the fact that we have seen an awful lot of layer mask so far, just about every composition we've created in the previous chapters involved at least one layer mask on one layer. However, what I'd like to do inside this exercise is familiarize you with the basic metaphor associated with the layer mask. So you understand exactly what's going on. And I'll do so in the context of this photograph. It comes to us from the Fotolia image library about what you can learn more at

It's a great composition I think the photographer did a fine job of capturing this couple. I think something may have gone wrong and post however, because we've got some problems. First of all, you can see that we have an awful lot of color associated with the shadow details inside these T-shirts, those areas ought to be neutral. Meanwhile, we don't have nearly enough saturation associated with the skin tones and then finally notice this section of this guy's forehead, it's really quite blown.

In other words we've lost some highlights, they have gone completely white and we have an awful lot of posterization going on in the neighboring colors. Compare that to the final version of a composition that we'll be creating together here in which the shadows are neutralized. We've got a lot more saturation going on inside the skin tones. Her eyes are brighter, the details are sharper, there is less color noise, and I totally rebuilt his forehead here and I did so using her forehead. So once again it's important to bare in mind that we are all orange people with interchangeable body parts and so far as Photoshop is concerned.

Alright, I'm going to switch back to our original image its called Contemplative couple.jpg and it's found inside the 09_layermask folder. And we're going to start things off by selecting those skin tones using the color range command. So go out to the Select menu and choose Color Range, or if you loaded Deke keys you can go ahead and press that keyboard shortcut and mash your fist though. And then make sure that the Localized Color Clusters check box is turned off make sure Fuzziness is set to 40 as by default. For now we're going to leave the Invert check box turned off.

I'm going to go ahead and switch the Selection Preview back to None, so we can see the full-color image. It's couldn't be a lot easier to select the stuff we don't want to affect such as, the highlights and shadows in the T-shirts, for example,. So I'm going to start by clicking on his collar right about there, and then I'm going to Shift+Drag around the collar like so in order to lift as many of those aberrant blues as possible. Then I'll Shift+Drag over her shoulder and that should pretty well select all the details in the T-shirts.

Now notice that she has some very saturated colors going on inside of here eyes that highlight, for example,. I want you to Shift+Click on that blue highlight across the top of her iris, and then I'm also going to Shift+Click very carefully along the top rim of her eyelid where that mascara is. And we end up, by the way, with this selection right here. I'll go ahead and switch to Selection Preview back to Grayscale, so you can get a sense of whether your selection matches mine. Now we want to affect the skin tones not the stuff that is currently appearing white.

So I'm going to turn on the Invert check box, so that everything that was previously selected becomes deselected. Alright, now I'll go ahead and click OK and as soon as I do Photoshop will go ahead and select the region that appears in white. So anything when we're working inside the color range dialog box and I know you know this, but I'm just emphasizing it. Anything that's appearing white will be selected, anything that appears black will be deselected and therefore protected, and anything gray is some degree of selection in-between.

Alright, I'm going to go ahead and click OK. Sure enough we get a selection outline just as we've seen in the past. That's not the way it has to work incidentally and we'll see some exceptions in future exercises. Now our next step will be to apply an adjustment layer and I'm going to do so by pressing the Alt or Option key and clicking the Black White icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and then choosing the Vibrance command. And because I had Alt or Option down that brings up the New layer dialog box I'll go ahead and call this layer skintones and click OK.

Now notice that that does three things, it brings up the Adjustments panel so that we can apply a color adjustment. And in my case I'm just going to go ahead and crank the Saturation up to about 80 lets say. Obviously, that is not the final correction I'm looking for, but it gives us a sense of what's going up. We can easily see the adjusted portions of the image. So Photoshop brings up the adjustments panel, but it also creates an adjustments layer here inside the Layers panel and it also converts that selection outline to a layer mask.

Now the metaphor changes a little bit when we're working with layer masks. Previously we've seen whether we're working inside the color range dialog box, or we're working with an alpha channel white indicates the selected region and black indicates the protected region. That's not quite what's going on in the case of a layer mask; rather white indicates the opaque portion of the layer and black indicates the transparent portion of the layer. So if I press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac and click on that layer mask icon, then we'll see the layer mask independently of the rest of the image.

White as I say is the opaque region black is the transparent region and these gray values are various levels of translucency in-between. Which is why you may hear people say, 'white reveals and black conceals'. And that is particularly true in the case of a layer mask. So just bare in mind instead of selection versus protection we have reveal versus conceal. Alright I'm going to go ahead and Alt+ Click, or Option+Click once again on that layer mask thumbnail to return to the RGB composite, and then I'm going to change my settings here.

I'm really looking for a Saturation value more in the neighborhood of 10, and then I'm going to Tab to the Vibrance value and take that up to 75. And as you may know the Vibrance value is a kind of equal opportunity saturation function. So it raises the saturation values of the least saturated colors inside the image more than those that are already intensely saturated, thereby avoiding color clipping and it is especially useful for increasing the saturation of skin tones. And notice throughout this modification we are just changing those areas inside the skin tones we are not increasing, or otherwise affecting the saturation of those colors inside the shadow region of the T-shirts, inside of that highlight, in her iris and so forth.

Alright, so that's the basic mechanics of layer mask inside of Photoshop. In the next exercise, I'll share some handy tips and tricks.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals
Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

128 video lessons · 28937 viewers

Deke McClelland

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  1. 15m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. Loading my custom dekeKeys shortcuts
      3m 45s
    3. Adjusting the color settings
      4m 29s
    4. Setting up a power workspace
      5m 59s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. The channel is the origin of masking
      1m 54s
    2. The Masks and Channels panels
      4m 48s
    3. How color channels work
      7m 7s
    4. Viewing channels in color
      3m 24s
    5. How RGB works
      4m 12s
    6. Single-channel grayscale
      5m 12s
    7. Mixing a custom "fourth" channel
      5m 15s
    8. The other three-channel mode: Lab
      5m 45s
    9. A practical application of Lab
      4m 55s
    10. The final color mode: CMYK
      7m 5s
    11. Introducing the Multichannel mode
      5m 56s
    12. Creating a unique multichannel effect
      5m 18s
  3. 44m 27s
    1. The alpha channel is home to the mask
      1m 40s
    2. The origins of the alpha channel
      3m 40s
    3. How a mask works
      7m 10s
    4. Making an alpha channel
      4m 2s
    5. Using the new channel icons
      6m 27s
    6. Saving an image with alpha channels
      4m 23s
    7. Loading a selection from a channel
      4m 7s
    8. Putting a mask into play
      3m 55s
    9. Loading a selection from a layer
      4m 27s
    10. Loading a selection from another image
      4m 36s
  4. 1h 0m
    1. The mask meets the composition
      1m 8s
    2. Viewing a mask as a rubylith overlay
      6m 13s
    3. Changing a mask's overlay color
      5m 34s
    4. Painting inside a mask
      6m 3s
    5. Cleaning up and confirming
      5m 18s
    6. Combining masks
      5m 10s
    7. Painting behind and inside a layer
      5m 27s
    8. Blending image elements
      6m 1s
    9. What to do when layers go wrong
      6m 3s
    10. Hiding layer effects with a mask
      4m 22s
    11. Introducing clipping masks
      5m 29s
    12. Unclipping and masking a shadow
      3m 50s
  5. 1h 35m
    1. The seven selection soldiers
    2. The marquee tools
      6m 31s
    3. The single-pixel tools (plus tool tricks)
      6m 48s
    4. Turning a destructive edit into a layer
      5m 34s
    5. Making shapes of specific sizes
      7m 7s
    6. The lasso tools
      5m 49s
    7. Working with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      7m 19s
    8. The Quick Selection tool
      8m 13s
    9. Combining Quick Selection and Smudge
      4m 52s
    10. The Magic Wand and the Tolerance value
      6m 55s
    11. Contiguous and Anti-aliased selections
      6m 58s
    12. Making a good selection with the Magic Wand
      6m 34s
    13. Selecting and replacing a background
      6m 55s
    14. Resolving edges with layer effects
      7m 52s
    15. Adding lines of brilliant gold type
      7m 28s
  6. 1h 11m
    1. Selections reign supreme
    2. Introducing "selection calculations"
      4m 19s
    3. Combining two different tools
      7m 29s
    4. Selections and transparency masks
      5m 17s
    5. Selecting an eye
      7m 1s
    6. Masking and blending a texture into skin
      5m 1s
    7. Painting a texture into an eye
      4m 19s
    8. Combining layers, masks, channels, and paths
      4m 54s
    9. Moving selection outlines vs. selected pixels
      5m 36s
    10. Transforming and warping a selection outline
      7m 45s
    11. Pasting an image inside a selection
      7m 26s
    12. Adding volumetric shadows and highlights
      6m 54s
    13. Converting an image into a mask
      4m 42s
  7. 1h 5m
    1. The best selection tools are commands
      1m 5s
    2. Introducing the Color Range command
      5m 59s
    3. Working in the Color Range dialog box
      7m 7s
    4. Primary colors and luminance ranges
      4m 12s
    5. A terrific use for Color Range
      4m 57s
    6. Introducing the Quick Mask mode
      7m 43s
    7. Moving a selection into a new background
      5m 43s
    8. Smoothing the mask, recreating the corners
      8m 43s
    9. Integrating foreground and background
      4m 44s
    10. Creating a cast shadow from a layer
      2m 51s
    11. Releasing and masking layer effects
      3m 11s
    12. Creating a synthetic rainbow effect
      4m 30s
    13. Masking and compositing your rainbow
      4m 46s
  8. 1h 17m
    1. The ultimate in masking automation
      1m 6s
    2. Introducing the Refine Mask command
      6m 58s
    3. Automated edge detection
      8m 23s
    4. Turning garbage into gold
      6m 19s
    5. Starting with an accurate selection
      7m 11s
    6. Selection outline in, layer mask out
      7m 48s
    7. Matching a scene with Smart Filters
      4m 29s
    8. Cooling a face, reflecting inside eyes
      4m 45s
    9. Creating a layer of ghoulish skin
      4m 28s
    10. Adding dark circles around the eyes
      5m 20s
    11. Creating a fake blood effect
      5m 38s
    12. Establishing trails of blood
      7m 40s
    13. Integrating the blood into the scene
      7m 3s
  9. 1h 48m
    1. Using the image to select itself
      1m 37s
    2. Choosing the ideal base channel
      5m 7s
    3. Converting a channel into a mask
      6m 34s
    4. Painting with the Overlay mode
      7m 27s
    5. Painting with the Soft Light mode
      5m 55s
    6. Mask, composite, refine, and blend
      4m 40s
    7. Creating a more aggressive mask
      7m 2s
    8. Blending differently masked layers
      7m 0s
    9. Creating a hair-only mask
      6m 0s
    10. Using history to regain a lost mask
      3m 42s
    11. Separating flesh tones from hair
      8m 28s
    12. Adjusting a model's color temperature
      4m 30s
    13. Introducing the Calculations command
      7m 22s
    14. Extracting a mask from a Smart Object
      6m 34s
    15. Integrating a bird into a new sky
      5m 40s
    16. Creating synthetic rays of light
      6m 4s
    17. Masking and compositing light
      7m 39s
    18. Introducing a brilliant light source
      7m 5s
  10. 1h 34m
    1. The synthesis of masking and compositing
      1m 36s
    2. White reveals, black conceals
      6m 45s
    3. Layer masking tips and tricks
      5m 8s
    4. Generating a layer mask with Color Range
      5m 38s
    5. The Masks panel's bad options
      5m 18s
    6. The Masks panel's good options
      3m 50s
    7. Creating and feathering a vector mask
      3m 42s
    8. Combining pixel and vector masks
      3m 50s
    9. Working with path outlines
      7m 10s
    10. Combining paths into a single vector mask
      7m 52s
    11. Sharpening detail, reducing color noise
      4m 27s
    12. Recreating missing details
      8m 49s
    13. Masking glass
      5m 50s
    14. Refining a jagged Magic Wand mask
      5m 53s
    15. Masking multiple layers at one time
      5m 15s
    16. Establishing a knockout layer
      6m 6s
    17. Clipping and compositing tricks
      7m 37s
  11. 1m 17s
    1. Next steps
      1m 17s

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