Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Introducing the Masks palette, part of Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery.
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The new stuff is now, this is when things get terribly exciting for those of us who are new to Photoshop CS4, because we are going to see how to re-approach this very project the new and improved Photoshop CS4 way, which involves the Masks palette right there. So I've got these two images still open. The planets.psd and Duckbill in tent.tif. I'm going to press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo the addition of the dinosaur. And then I'm going to switch over to Duckbill in tent like so.
And I'm going to press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to deselect the dinosaur. Then I want you to press and hold the Ctrl Key or the Command Key on the Mac, and let's do a drag and drop once again. We'll drag the dinosaur into planets.psd like so, come back into the image, press the Shift key and drop, and we cover up the entire composition with this new hadrosaur layer. Let's go ahead and zoom out a little bit here, so that we can take in more of the image at a time. I'm going to go ahead and rename this layer Duckbill, you can call it hadrosaur if you are in a scientific mood, and then press the Enter or Return Key in order to assign that modification.
Now what do we do? We don't want to completely delete those pixels the way we did before, we just want to mask them away. You go to your Masks palette, so make sure that it's up on screen, and if you can't find it go to the Window menu and choose this command right there, Masks, and I'll say something about, oh, I just made it go away, go darn it, go up to the Window menu and choose Masks once again, there it is. Now it's confusing. If you are new to masking inside of Photoshop, you might see the Masks palette and you think Ctrl Central for masking, right? Because after all everything you can do with layers is provided to you here inside the Layers palette, and everything you can do with channels is available to you here inside the Channels palette, and so on. So Masks must be the place for masking inside of Photoshop. That's just not true.
The Channels palette is actually your Ctrl Central from masking inside of Photoshop, your headquarters, if you will. Masks is just kind of a side palette, it's just a facilitator, just helps you out. It is just there, it's your pal; it will get you go on if you need it. What it's really looking for is a layer. You got to have a layer, and it wants you to have a layer mask associated with that layer. So we don't have that right now. Go ahead and make this little wider here, the palette that is. And so we have got to add a layer mask. You can either do that by going down to the bottom of the Layers palette, and clicking on the Add layer mask icon or right here inside the Mask palette you can click on this guy, which is Add Pixel Mask. So you can either had a pixel mask or a vector mask if you prefer, most of the time you are going to want to pixel mask because especially when you are doing this kind of thing.
If you add a vector mask, then you are going to have to draw an outline using the Pen tool. So our best bet is to go over here to a pixel mask. Also by the way the options inside the Mask palette are really designed more to work with pixel-based mask than they are with the vector based mask. Anyway click there to add the mask. We get this layer mask thumbnail here inside the Layers palette, and all of a sudden the Mask palette is happy, and it gives us access to all five of its options including right there Color Range. Now this will work the same. If you go up to the Select menu and choose the Color Range command, you'll get the same effect as clicking on the Color Range button. And in both cases we are not going to create a selection outline this time around. So I'll go ahead and click on the Color Range button, and notice the Color Range dialog box comes up with all of our last applied settings. So Localized Color Clusters is on, Invert is on, Fuzziness is set to 60, so why do we get such a different looking selection? Well, because the Color Range command is always working for the foreground color. When you first bring it up, it has one and only one base color and that would be whatever the foreground color is set up to. So in this case it's some weird green that apparently occurs very infrequently inside the image, which is why we have just a few blacks and the ton of whites, and that's because Invert is turned on. It makes more sense if we turn Invert off and then we can see that we are just selecting a little bit of the image. Thanks to the fact that those colors to the one set most closely resemble the screen.
I tell you what. Instead of going through all that nonsense with regenerating the selection, which is just a lot of busy work at this point, click on the Load button, click on the Localized duckbill. See aren't you glad that I went ahead and saved off these settings to save us time now? And they should make you think, hey, I wonder if when I'm working inside the Color Range dialog box, if I spend a fair amount of time in there, maybe I should click Save and save off my settings. Don't wonder; just do it. It's a great idea. My rule of thumb is if anything inside of Photoshop takes you more than five minutes, save it if you can. So save everything that you can from the program, because these are just dinky little files. Click on Load to load it on up, and you get your previous selection. It looks beautiful, except for some reason the Invert check-box state off. Turn it back on if you want to, or don't, let's leave it off, actually, so we are selecting the wrong thing, right? So if I click OK, then I masked away the dinosaur.
So notice I've got this black on white layer mask right here. We are working with the layer mask, black is the hole and white is the opaque pixels. So black becomes transparency, white is opaque, and as a result, the dinosaur is turned into a hole. Well, all we need to do is invert the layer mask. You can do that just by pressing this Invert button here inside the Mask palette, and then that gets you the result you would expect. Now we didn't do any of that Quick Mask stuff; that remains undone, because that was a separate operation as you may recall. So we need to go ahead and modify this mask right here in the Layers palette. To perform those sorts of Quick Mask modifications, what you need to do is you need to Alt-click or Option-click on the Layer Mask thumbnail here inside the Layers palette in order to view the mask independently of the image.
I did make it slightly different mask this time around as you can see. Notice that I have a lot of these gray areas here, and that's because I didn't do that last Alt-click or Option-click remember few exercises ago we did that. You know what I'm going to do? I'm just going to clear out this mask here by pressing Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac, and because the background color is white at this point, that just went ahead and made the entire mask white. Let's go ahead and Alt-click or Option- click again on this mask thumbnail, so that we are seeing the entire composition. And let's redo the Color Range right there by clicking on Color Range once again, loading the settings go ahead and load up Localized duckbill.atx, click Load and I'm going to go ahead and press the Alt Key or the Option Key on the Mac, and click inside of the dinosaur to remove some of those areas from the dinosaur selection. That's Alt-click or Option-click again. Let's see if we can do an even better job that's amazing.
Anyway, Shift-click then I could turn on the Invert check box right there, and then click OK in order to apply my modification. Now then, I have once again recreated that layer mask, the next thing that I'm going to do is I'm going to go up to the Image menu, I'm going to choose Adjustments and I'm going to choose Levels in order to increase the contrast of this mask and I'm going to enter the exact same values I have before. 60 for the black point value Tab, Tab, 195 for the white point value, click OK, and you can see that cleans up the mask quite a bit. It's pretty subtle but watch down in this region here, this is before we've got some additional garbage going down here, this is after, it's just cleaned up. I tell you what, let's Alt-click or Option-click in the mask, if you would by itself, this is before and now you can see what I was talking about. See all those dark gray stuff, albeit dark but it's still a mess, and this is after.
So that goes and makes that area totally transparent instead of semi murky translucent. Then we need to go ahead and paint inside of this mask in order to refine the selection, and because we get new and better feedback out of painting inside of layer mask than we do when painting inside the Quick Mask Mode, I'm going to save that technique for the next exercise.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
- Defining the essentials of masking
- Resizing images with content-aware scaling
- Adjusting perspective with Vanishing Point
- Applying Smart Filters to create complex effects
- Using the Auto-Align tool to build composite images