Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Black, white, and gray on a mask, part of Targeted Adjustments in Photoshop CC.
- When it comes to working with targeted adjustments in Photoshop, it's important to understand the basic concept of a layer mask. In general, that means understanding that black blocks and white reveals. In other words, a layer mask is like a stencil where white areas are those areas that we're going to adjust and black areas are those that we're not going to adjust. But there are also shades of gray in between, and so it's helpful to take that concept a little further so you can better understand some of the possibilities when it comes to applying a targeted adjustment.
For example, I'm just going to divide this image into a few sections. I'll start off by creating a selection over on the left side here, and then I'm going to apply a targeted adjustment and for the moment, just think of this as a general concept. Don't worry too much about the specific steps that I'm performing, but rather, just focus on the ultimate result that we're applying here, the effect that we're creating. If you take a look at my layer mask here, you'll see that because I had a selection active when I added my adjustment layer, I have a stencil automatically attached to my adjustment layer, that layer mask, and I have white over on the left and that is the area being affected by my adjustment, and then black over toward the right, and that's the area that is not being affected by my adjustment.
I'm going to add an additional section in between, though. I'll just use the fill command in order to fill that selected area of my layer mask with 50% gray. Once that's accomplished, I can get rid of the selection and go back to the actual image view and now you'll see that I'm having a variable effect on the image. In fact, I'll go back to my curves adjustment and I can go back and forth with that adjustment, darkening and lightening, for example. What you see in the image is that this left segment is getting the full effect of my targeted adjustment because on the stencil, that layer mask, that area of the photo is filled with white.
Over on the far right side of the image, as I refine that adjustment, you'll see that I'm getting no effect whatsoever on that right side and that's because that stencil with the layer mask is filled with black in that area. And then the center area is filled with middle gray, specifically 50% gray, and so this central area of the image is actually getting 50% of the adjustment's strength or path of the adjustment. I'm getting the full adjustment over on the left, none of the adjustment, you might think of that as 0% of the adjustment over on the right, and half of the adjustment in the middle.
While a layer mask is a stencil where we're generally using black and white to define the areas of the image that we don't want to adjust versus the areas that we do want to adjust, it's worth keeping in mind that we can also use shades of gray to take that concept a little bit further.
- Balancing subtlety and accuracy
- Working with black, white, and grey on a mask
- Targeting without a mask
- Painting a targeted adjustment
- Making a selection-based adjustment
- Editing or duplicating a mask
- Working with multiple adjustment masks
- Fine-tuning a mask