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Basics of Layer Masks this is a little lesson on how layer masks work and teaches you how to Rate Topic: -----

#1 calebjonasson  Icon User is offline

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Post icon  Posted 01 March 2009 - 06:56 PM

Using Layer Masks

Layer masks are used to show and hide the layers that are behind the mask. This simple concept allows people to collaborate multiple images into one or make tonal adjustments on certain sections of the image.

On a Layer mask white will show the image the mask is applied to and black will show through to the layer bellow. Now that you have a brief explanation of what a layer mask is now you are going to use it in practice.


For this tutorial I will be using a photo that I took almost a year ago in my home town Kamloops BC.
Click bellow for the image

Large image - 3.6MB
Small image - 246KB

1. Open save the image and open it in Photoshop
2. Select the layer and press CTRL + J or Command + J to duplicate it
3. Select the top layer and Click Image > Adjustments > Curves Or press CTRL + M (Command + M on a mac) a window will appear with a straight line from the bottom left to the top right. Move the line so it looks like this. (it doesn’t have to be exact just enough so that the sky is lit up)

Posted Image

The image should look like this when you are done.

Posted Image
(dont worry about the valley, our focus is on the sky at this point)


3. Now there is a new layer above which is actually called a layer adjustment and beside it is the layer mask. Click this mask.

4. Select a large Gaussian blurred brush and start painting the mountains and the valley. This will cause the layer bellow to show through the top layer and remove the terrible lighting. Your layers should look like this:

Posted Image

5. Alt Click your layer mask and it should show you something similar to this.

Posted Image

Click any layer and it should bring you back to what you want to see which is the final copy which should look something like this.

Posted Image


This tutorial wasn’t made to show you how to improve an image just simply understand the basics of a Layer Mask. There are other ways to create Layer masks such as going through ‘Layer > Layer Mask > Show all’ or clicking the icon bellow your layers that looks like a circle inside of a triangle.

If you have any questions please post a comment, I follow my posts.

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#2 3G Alarm  Icon User is offline

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 08:59 PM

nice tutorial man thank you
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