Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding a layer mask, part of Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics.
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You know all of a sudden it occurs to me you might want to see what this lightness layer actually looks like by itself. So I am going to go ahead and turn off the normal layer for a moment here so that you can see how outrageously bright this layer is as a function of the Linear Dodge mode. The Linear Dodge mode is a very exaggerated brightening mode inside Photoshop and it completely gets rid of those dark edges, those fringes that we saw before. Problem is of course it gets rid of everything inside the image which is why we have the normal layer stacked on top of it.
But just having it in between does a good deal to lighten those edges, that's the before version of the dark fringes and this is the after version thanks to the lightness layer. Alright in this exercise we are going to create a layer mask. Go ahead and click on the Normal Layer that you have created assuming that you have been working along with me. Click on the top layer the one that's called Normal and set to the Normal Blend mode. Now at this point what I need is to contract the edges a little bit so that we get rid of those edge fringes.
That means I need to regain access to the original selection outline. I am going to switch back to my FaceInTheDark.tiff image that still has the selection outline intact, you can see the marching ants marching round the edges of this selected area here. But problem is as soon as I move this selection into a new background it became an independent layer and the selection outline went away. Well I still need it and it still turns out to be completely available to me, it just got converted into what's called a Transparency Mask inside Photoshop.
The Transparency Mask determines which portion of the layer's transparent and which portion of the layer is opaque. To convert that Transparency Mask to a selection press and hold the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and then click on the layer thumbnail right here so just go ahead and Ctrl click or Command click on the Normal Layer thumbnail and that converts that Transparency Mask back into a selection outline it's the same selection outline that we have available to us inside of the FaceInTheDark image, alright, they are exactly the same.
Now I want to edit the selection outline as a layer specific mask so I am going to convert it to a layer mask and I am going to do that by going to the bottom of the Layers palette here. Notice this little circle on the square icon, if you hover over it, it says Add Layer Mask. Go ahead and click on it and that converts the selection outline, gets rid of it as well and converts it to a layer mask and you can see the mask thumbnail just to the right of the layer thumbnail. To view that mask thumbnail by itself I want you to Alt Click on it or Option click on it on the Mac and you can see that it's the exact same mask that we had before.
I am going to go back by the way, I am going to go back to the FaceInTheDark image, I am going to deselect it so we get rid of those marching ants. I am going to switch to the channels palette, scroll down to the bottom and click on My Mask. There is the original mask right the one that we converted into a selection and used to drag and drop the woman into her new background. Now check this out. I am going to now press Ctrl Tab to switch to the desertbackdrop.jpeg image and we are now viewing the layer mask by itself. Do you see any difference? This is the original alpha channel mask, this is the layer mask, they are pixel for pixel identical.
So we converted the alpha channel mask into a selection outline and then we dragged the image into a new background, the selection outline got converted into a Transparency Mask and then I Ctrl clicked on the layer thumbnail and in order to convert the Transparency Mask back into a selection outline and now we just converted the selection outline into a layer mask. So we have gone back and forth a couple of times actually I guess about 5 times in all and yet we didn't lose a darn thing. Converting between a mask and a selection outline is a completely lossless transition.
Even though a selection outline is a fairly rudimentary way to show off the edges that we have available to us it does convey all of the softness and detail information, is that not amazing? Alright anyway I am going to go back to the Layers palette here. We are looking at the layer mask by itself. In order to see the image once again you can either Alt Click or Option Click on the layer mask or I will go ahead and Option or Alt Click it again to see it by itself or you can just click on the layer thumbnail and that will take you back to the RGB Composite View of the entire layered composition.
Alright, so nothing, we didn't really do anything in this exercise, we didn't make the fringes go away all we did was gain access to this layer mask here. We are now going to set about editing that layer mask beginning in the next exercise.
Ready for more Photoshop CS3 training with Deke? Check out Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Advanced Techniques.
Note: Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials is a recommended prerequisite to Photoshop CS3 One-on-One: Beyond the Basics.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
- Understanding what Photoshop CS3 is and what it can do.
- Zooming, scrolling, and getting around an image.
- Making the most of the new-and-improved CS3 interface.
- Using Adobe Bridge to organize and manage images.
- Saving workspaces for maximum comfort and efficiency.
- Correcting colors using the Variations and Hue/Saturation commands.
- Taking on the professional-grade luminance editors, Levels and Curves.
- Resampling an image and selecting an interpolation setting.
- Cropping and straightening a photograph.