Join Bert Monroy for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the basic concepts of a layer mask, part of Artistic Concepts in Photoshop and Illustrator 2.
What we're going to do here, is learn what a layer mask is. A layer mask can be applied to any layer, and if a background has been converted to a layer, it can have a layer mask. Now what a layer mask does is it uses a channel inside of itself and you'll see that will appear like right here, I have this "Layer 2" which is just a black rectangle. Right down here, this says "Create a Layer Mask." So if I click on that, there you can see it created a layer mask. Now you notice that it's white, let me undo that. This time I'm going to hold down my option key, and press on that same button.
And now it gave me a black mask and notice that it disappeared. Let me undo that. What happens in a layer mask, and let's create that original one, a white, is that where that layer mask is white, we will see the contents of that layer. Where the layer mask is black, it will completely hide the contents of the layer, but it is an eight-bit layer having 254 levels of gray between that black and white. The level of that gray will be the level of visibility. So I can go in here and let's just say that, in that white one, I'm going to have a black brush.
And I get a nice big brush here and it's got a softness brought down, so when I draw right at the top of this, in the mask, cause you notice here's the layer, here's the mask. If I draw right across here, you see that? It's hiding it, right there. There's the black line that's hiding it. Shift clicking on that mask will turn it off. Bringing it back, there it is. If I want to see the contents of the layer, I simply paint with white and I can paint right across there, and you can see I'm hiding it. I can throw a gradient inside this layer mask from white to black right now and you see that we're using particular type of gradient.
Let's go in here, and go like that, and there you can see where the layer mask is white I'm seeing the layer, where it's black, we're not seeing it and the level of gray in between, allows me to see it based on that level of gray. Now if I wanted to do things in the mask itself, holding down my option key and clicking on the mask, will bring me into the actual mask. So I can do things in here, so let's just say for instance I wanted to go in and draw something in here, in black and we just go, (sing-song) "Whoop de doo de doo de doo dum." Okay, option clicking on the little mask again, brings us back and there you can see we've just hidden that base on the contents of that mask which at any time, I can bring back to white and have it become visible again.
We're not really affecting the layer, because look at the layer, it's never been affected. Turning off the mask you see that the mask is still there. So, how do these masks work? Let's look at this image right here. This is an old iPhone, and one of the things that Apple's been using a lot lately, is a little reflection below. Well, how are we going to create that reflection have it fade out? Well, I'm going to take the phone and I'm going to duplicate it, take that layer and drag it right below it, with the option key to give me a copy. And I'm going to say "Flip Vertical" and then drag it down so that it's right there placed below the other one.
So what I'm going to do is bring down its opacity, so it's a little lighter right off the bat, and give it a layer mask. Get my blend tool and where I want it to be seen, will be white, so I'm going to start with white going down to black, I click and drag straight down through here, and there you can see that its slowly disappearing as it gets further away. So the layer mask allows me to hide the contents of the layer to create all kinds of special effects like in this case, a little reflection.
Need to brush up on concepts like perspective and light? Watch the first installment of Artistic Concepts with Bert Monroy here.
- Creating custom materials
- Creating cork, marble, chrome, and glass materials
- Reusing and repurposing layers
- Using layer masks and layer-mask effects
- Using alpha channels