Well, here it is Sunday again, and time for another Photoshop tutorial (insert theme music here)...
I thought I would introduce the concept of layer masks and hope it does not look too overwhelming. I am presenting it in 11 easy steps, and think if you try it for yourselves you will see it is not as daunting as it appears at first glance. Really.
One of the most important concepts to understand about making adjustments through the layer palette (as opposed to selecting Image>Adjustment) is that layer palette adjustments are non-destructive... that is, you can edit and re-edit the individual layers and still retain the original integrity of the image. In the long run, though creating layer masks may seem like a tedious process, it also gives you more room for creative play.
1. For the purpose of this tutorial, I chose two images with strong contrast in content from the website wetcanvas
2. Create a new file and move each image onto it. You may need to rename the individual image layers from Background to an editable layer by clicking on it in the layer palette and changing the name to Layer 0.
3. Stack the layers so the swan layer is above the brick wall layer.
4. Click on the swan layer to make it active. Click on the 'add layer mask' icon in the layer palette. Click on the white box to activate the layer mask. You will see a black square around the white box which indicates the layer mask is activated.
The other important thing to remember when working on a layer mask is that BLACK REVEALS AND WHITE CONCEALS.
Press D to set foreground and background colors to default settings (black foreground and white background)
5. Press B to choose the paintbrush tool. (Did you know that you can increase the size of your paintbrush by pressing the right bracket ] and decrease it by pressing the left bracket [ keys?) I like to start with a paintbrush at about 100 px. Make sure the layer mask window is active by clicking on it, and begin painting on the image with black. You will see the brick wall in the first layer begin to be revealed.
6. Looking at the layer palette, you can see that where the image is painted in black the brick wall is revealed.
7. What if you make a mistake and reveal more of the brick wall than you intended and give the swan a neck reduction? No worries!
8. Press X to set white to the foreground color (the X key is a toggle that sets the foreground/background colors back and forth) and paint to conceal the unwanted brick wall.
9. If you want to turn off the layer mask, place your mouse pointer over it, hold down the shift key and click. To turn the layer mask back on, repeat. Shift+ click is also a toggle key.
10. This is what the final masked image and layer palette looks like.
11. Ta da!
If you have any questions about this tutorial, please be sure to let me know. If any of you reading who have used this technique have anything to add, speak up please! The more the merrier. Really.
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007