Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding a layer mask, part of Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
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One of our conventions here at lynda.com is that we go ahead and save out progress files as we move through a project. That way, if you run into a stumbling block, you can just close one file and open another, which is why I've saved my progress as First liquification.psd. However, if you're working successfully inside of your own file, absolutely stick with it. Now you may recall, so far we've jumped the image to a new layer, applied the Liquify filter. We're going to do that exact same thing again, that is to say I'm going to click on the Background layer.
I'm going to jump into a new layer in order to make yet another duplicate. And I'm going to apply a different incarnation of the Liquify filter with the intention of moving this portion of her brow over her eye, because that's something I can't do. I can't make one portion of her face cover another portion inside the Liquefy filter by itself. So I need two layers to pull that off. And if we switch to the completed version of the image, you can see what I mean. Notice that her brow right there at the bridge of her nose is covering this portion of her eye, the very beginning of her eye. All right.
So here's what we're going to do. I'm going to click on the Background layer to make it active. And this time instead of pressing Ctrl+ J or Command+J on the Mac, I'm going to press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac. Now if it seems like I'm throwing a bunch of keyboard shortcuts at you, I am. And of course, we are going to explore them in much more detail in later exercises, but here's what happens. If you add Alt or Option to the mix, so I'll press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac, I not only jump the layer, but I'm giving the opportunity to name it here inside the New Layer dialog box.
So Alt or Option frequently forces the display of a dialog box or forces a dialog box that normally comes up onscreen to remain hidden. So I'm going to go ahead and name this layer brow & nose and then I'm going to click OK. So now I've created it and named it in one step. Next, I need to move brow & nose above liquify eyes, because that brow has to cover that eye. And I'm going to do that just by dragging the layer above liquify eyes to the point that I can see a thick line right there, a thick horizontal line, between liquify eyes and face shadow.
So just like this there, then I drop it into place. And now the original image is in front. Now I'm going to go up to the Filter menu. I'm going to choose the Liquify command to bring up the Liquify window. Notice I don't see my previous modification this time around. I just see the image laid before me in its original condition. That's because Liquify does not remember your changes from one session to another, which is why it's such a good idea to save your mesh before you click OK. Anyway, I'll stress that when we take a look at Liquify in a future chapter.
But right now, I'm going to click on Load Mesh to load one that I've saved in advance, which is Avatar girl nose.msh. Once again, click Open. And this is a distortion that was based on the previous distortion. So I just started where I left off, and made some more modifications. Mostly, move this bridge of the nose over here. You can see I just squish in this eye, but once we get done erasing this layer will erase down to the unsquished eye in the Background. It'll work out great.
So I'll click OK in order to accept this modification. Now you can see, here's the brow & nose layer that I just created. Now I'll turn it off, so you can see the liquify eyes layer below. So that's what I need to do is erase through brow & nose to that liquified eye in the background. I'm going to do that by erasing this area right here. And I could use the Eraser tool, which is a great tool, insofar as it goes, it allows you to erase pixels, you can apply a soft brush, you can apply a hard brush whatever, it is you want to do.
However, you do permanently erase those pixels. Now you can always undo your modifications. If you want to, you could back step up to 20 steps inside of Photoshop, by default. However, what if you erase your way through a layer, and then you close the image and save your changes, and then later, you open the image back up, and you look at the image, and you wish you could retrieve those erased pixels? Well, you can't. And that's what's known as a destructive modification. So the Eraser tool basically destroys portions of the image, whereas if you take advantage of what's called a layer mask, then you can temporarily burrow a hole through one layer down to another.
And what we're going to do is we're going to create the layer mask, and then we're going to modify it. And here's how it works. Make sure that brow & nose layer that you just created is selected, then drop down to the bottom of the Layers palette, and see that icon right there, Add layer mask. Now if I click on it, I'm going to create a white layer mask. That doesn't do anything to the image whatsoever. Notice the image looks just the same as it did a moment ago. White inside of a layer mask represents opacity, black represents transparency.
That means you can paint an image away using black, and then you can paint it back in using white, which means that the original pixels, which are right there, never go away. But what I want to do is I want to fill this mask with black, so we're starting with the layer transparent, and then we'll paint it in with white. And I'm going to do that by pressing Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac, to undo the creation of that layer mask. Then I'm going to drop down to this icon right there, Add layer mask, and I'm going to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and I'm going to click on it.
And by virtue of the fact you Alt- or Option-clicked, you fill this layer mask with black that represents transparency. And so we've wiped out the contents of the layer. Now of course, the layer is still there. All we need to do is paint it in using white. And that's something that we're going to do in the very next exercise.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
- Assembling photorealistic compositions
- Understanding image size and resolution
- Correcting the brightness and color of images
- Creating accurate selection outlines
- Retouching and healing photos
- Mastering layers and effects
- Printing and exporting to the web