Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Speeding up your work by reusing layer masks, part of Photo Tools Weekly.
- Hey, it is so nice to see you again. Thank you for joining me in another episode of Photo Tools Weekly. In this week's episode, we'll turn our attention to working in Photoshop. Here we'll talk about a masking technique which can just save you so much time. You know, when it comes to masking, rather than create a mask and recreate it again, there are different techniques that you can use that will allow you to reuse a mask and apply it in different ways. So, let's take a look at how we can do just that and to do that, we'll be working on this photograph here.
Here we go, let's dive in. So, not too long ago I was traveling through the countryside in Italy, and I happened upon this giant red O and it was so interesting to me I stopped to take a photograph of it. This guy in this motorcycle pulled up and I said, hey can you stop right there, because there's this road right behind it and he stopped. And what I want to do is I want to finish this photograph off, and particularly, I want to affect the way that this O looks without it affecting the rest of the image. How can we do that? Well, one of the ways we can do that is by beginning with the quick select tool, over here in the tools panel, and I'll just click and drag over this area.
And often when it comes to working with selections, what we'll do is make a selection like this, and then we'll turn that selection into a mask. Here I'll hold down the option key on a Mac, alt on Windows, to deselect anything that I don't want. And with quick select, it works really quickly, but sometimes we need to fine tune the edges, which we do by going to select and mask. Inside of select and mask, I'll turn up my radius edge detection and turn on smart radius. I'll smooth out this a little bit and add some contrast, and then if there are any areas that I need to fix up, I'll do that with this tool.
I'll choose the brush with the minus sign and I'm just going to subtract a little bit from that. Yeah, then maybe back with the plus sign there and add a little bit more. I can't quite get all of that away with this tool and that's sometimes how masks are, right? You can't just get all the edges exactly perfect, or rather maybe you spend a little bit of time trying to get them perfect and you work on all your controls, and they take some effort, right? And so here even just here trying to fine tune this, you can see it's taking me a couple minutes to do that. Well, after I've done that, next step is to output this, and I'll just output this to a selection.
And the reason why I want to do that is just to highlight that all that I've done so far is selected this giant red O. Well, what do I want to do next? Well, let's say that next what I want to do is modify the color of the O. One way to do that is to click on an adjustment layer icon in the adjustments panel. Here I'll choose hue saturation, and if I drag my hue slider around, you can see how I now have control over modifying the color of just that area of the image. And this really is the benefit of working with masking.
And what I'm going to do is just say, increase the color saturation of the O, so the red is a little bit stronger. We can then click on the eye icon and say here is the before and after. It's just giving us this nice red snap, let me bring this up a little bit more, like that. After having made that adjustment, I've decided I want to fine tune which red we have there. So I go to one of my color controls, one that I like to use is color balance. And with color balance, I bring over my reds and also my yellows.
Yet all the sudden I have this problem, right? Let me exaggerate it, you can see that it's affecting the O but also the entire image. So what I really need is to have a mask, which only allows the adjustment to affect the red O. Well, I have that mask but it's down below. So, sometimes what we may think is, well, what if I click and drag this to the layer above? Well, I can do that, but then the layer below doesn't have a mask anymore. So how can we copy a mask from one layer to another, or reuse it or recycle it so that we can save ourselves some time rather than having to go through that whole process of using quick select, going into select and mask, et cetera, et cetera.
Well, what you can do is you can hold down a modifier key. It's option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and you hold down that key and then you drag while holding that down and what that does is it allows you to copy the mask from one layer to another. Now it's saying, hey do you want to replace what's there? Heck yeah I do. And you can see what I was able to do with this adjustment, is bring this over so that it is now only affecting that part of the image. Now, granted, the mask that I have here is pretty easy, but sometimes masks are really complicated.
Most of them are and so being able to copy and paste a mask can save you so much time it's crazy. Alright, well what about using the mask in a different way? Like, let's say we decide, you know what, what I really want to do is, I want to create an effect where I have everything in black and white except for the red O, well, how else could I do that? Well I could of course create a black and white adjustment, option click and drag that, or if you know that you're going to reuse the mask, you can hold down the command key on a Mac, control on Windows, and click on the mask.
That activates the mask as a selection. See how it's selected there again? Well now that it's a selection, I can go up and choose the adjustment whatever it is, in this case it's black and white. And you can see that that adjustment is now applied based on the mask itself. Well, sometimes what happens, like what happened with me is, it's the opposite of what I wanted. Oh no, what do you do? Well, no big deal, you have two options. You can either use a shortcut, or you can go to the properties panel, click on the tab for your mask and then click invert.
Can you see how the mask changed? The circle is now black and the other area is white, so the desaturation effect or the black and white effect is everywhere except for this giant red O. So the invert button allows us to invert the mask. Another way to do that by way of shortcut, if you want to write this one down, it's a worthwhile one to know, is by pressing command I on the Mac, or control I on Windows. That's a shortcut which allows us to invert a layer, a mask, a channel, and other things as well.
So, in this case, what we've seen here is how we can create a mask and then reuse it. We talked about how we can option click and drag a mask from one layer to another, that's option click on a Mac or alt click and drag on Windows. We've also looked at how we can use a technique where we command click on Mac, control click on Windows, the mask, then apply an adjustment of any sort. Next, if it's inverted, we go to the tab for the mask and click invert. If it's the opposite of what we want this fixes that problem, so that we now have this effect.
And really, it's the stacking up of all of these adjustments here which allow us to create this effect. We modified the color, enhanced it even further, and then last but not least, applied this color effect to the photograph. Well, that wraps up this week's episode of Photo Tools Weeky, thanks so much for joining me. See ya next week and have a great rest of your day.