How to Create Masks in Adobe Photoshop

– [Instructor] Hello
and welcome to this Design Cuts video
tutorial and today we’re looking at creating
masks in Photoshop. Now I hope by the end of
this video that you will be confident enough, even if
you’ve never used masks, to look at using them
in your own work. As always I’m going
to be using some Design Cuts content
in this video. So let’s take a
quick trip to the Design Cuts website
and see what I’m using. I’ll be using one
floral image here from the Wild Flora
Wonders by Denise Anne. I’ll be using a
texture image from the Ultimate Texture
and Photography Kit. And a couple of landscapes from the Landscape Watercolour
Sketches pack. So let’s head back to Photoshop. Now chances are even if you’ve
never used a mask before and you don’t even
know what it is, you’ve probably seen
masks in Photoshop. The reason for this is
is that adjustment layers come with masks already
applied to them. So let’s have a
look at this image. It’s just the background
layer and it’s locked. And what I want to do is
to recolor these flowers. I don’t want pink flowers,
I want yellow flowers. So to do this I’m
going to start by just making the
selection of my flowers. And since they’re pink and red,
I’m going to use the colour range tool, so I’ll choose
select and then colour range. I’ve got my eye
dropper selected here and I’m choosing sample colours. So this allows me to sample a
colour in the image to select. Now I need more than
just a single pink, so I’m going to click
on the plus icon here. And I’m just gonna continue
to click on those flowers until I’ve got pretty much
all of the flowers selected. I’ll click OK. And you can see the marching
ants around the flowers. Now I’m going to
change their colour. And I’m going to do that with a hue saturation
adjustment layer. So I’ll choose layer,
hue adjustment layer, and then hue saturation. I’ll click OK. In the layers palette
here you’ll see that we’ve got a hue saturation
adjustment layer, and a layer mask with our
selection already in place. So I’m going to double
click on the hue saturation adjustment and let’s
go and change the
colour of the flowers. And as I walk this
colour around, you can see that the
flowers are changing. Now I haven’t made the
world’s best selection, so we’re going to
make a little bit of a fix to that
in just a minute. But I’m going to make
the flowers this sort
of yellow colour. So what this mask has
allowed me to do is to limit my hue
saturation adjustment to only the areas that I
previously had selected. And this shows us very
clearly what masks do. When a mask is white,
the effect that is on that layer, in other
words the recoloring of the flowers,
is being applied. But where it’s black
there is no recoloring. Now if I disabled this
mask, I’m gonna hold the shift key as I
click on the mask, this is what it would look
like if I hadn’t masked it. That hue saturation
adjustment would have changed all the
colours in the image. But I didn’t want
to change them all, I just wanted to
change the flowers. So in using a mask like this
one, we’re able to limit the changes to just the
area that we’ve selected. Now as I said,
there’s a little bit of a problem here in this area. I probably didn’t make my
selection quite big enough. But you know what, I can fix it. I’m going to target
the mask so it has this little
border around it. I’m going to set white
as my foreground colour, ’cause that’s the
colour we paint with. I’m going to the brush tool and
I’m going to select a brush. So I’m going to choose
a sort of round brush, but I’m going to decrease the
hardness just a little bit so it’s not quite
as hard as it was. I’m going to use the open
and close square bracket keys just to change the brush
size, and then I’m gonna come in here and I’m just
going to paint on the image with white to add those
areas to the mask. Now I’m not actually painting
white paint on the image. I’m painting on the mask. So the way you operate with
masks is you click on the mask so it gets this little border
around it, and then you paint on the image where you
want the mask to be affected. And so I’m just adding some
missing areas into the mask. And that’s applying
that recolor effect to this part of the image. Now that we’ve got
our mask in place, it’s time to have a look at
why would we even use these. Well one of the reasons is that they’re really good for editing. Because if we use a mask
to recolor the image, if we want to change
the masked area, we can do that very easily. We can trash our
mask, we can just drag it onto the trash
can to get rid of it. We can also edit the
mask at any time. We can paint on it
with black or white to add or remove
areas from the effect of this hue saturation
adjustment layer. As a designer, being
able to use a mask will give you a lot of flexibility
in the designs that you create, and make them
a little bit more editable. So if somebody changes
their mind or you decide that you
don’t like something, it’s going to be very
easy to remove the effect. So there’s a mask used
with an adjustment layer. Let’s have a look at a mask used in a different
circumstance. Here we have another one of
these painted landscapes. Now what I’m gonna
do is I’m gonna apply a filter to a
duplicate of this image. So over here in the layers
palette, I’m just gonna drag and drop the background
onto the new layer icon. And that creates a second layer. The two layers are identical, so we’re having no effect
right now on the image. But I’m gonna apply a
filter to this image. But before I do, I’m
just noticing here that my colours
are pink and white. The kind of filter that
I’m about to apply uses the foreground and background
colours as part of that filter. So if I don’t want things
to look pink and white, I need to make a change before
I open the filter gallery. And a change I’m
going to make is to set the default
colours black and white. Now filters can be applied
in an editable way now in Photoshop so with the
topmost layer selected I’m first gonna choose filter and then
convert for smart filters. This will convert the
layer to a smart object, which means that I’ll be
able to edit the filter if I don’t like it, if
I need to change it. So with that layer
selected I’m gonna choose filter and
then filter gallery. I’m just going to
resize my preview so I can see my entire tree. And I’m going to use
this charcoal filter, I’ve already got
it selected here, it’s in the sketch
group of objects. But you’ll see that most
of the filters in this particular group of filters
again uses this black and white. So you always wanna
make sure that you choose the right colours
before you come in and use the filter or
you’re going to have colours that you didn’t
expect or want to use. So I’m just going to
increase my charcoal thickness a bit and
maybe just adjust the balance here
between light and dark. If I’m happy I’ll just click OK. So now I have my
landscape with the filter applied to it on top of
the original water colour. And what I want to do is
blend those two together. So I want to get the effect
of a sort of charcoaly sketch moving into a full
colour watercolour background. Well you’ll see that
by using smart filters, Photoshop has already
given me a layer mask. This is the layer
mask for the filter. So what I want to
do is to create a transition across this filter. And to do that I’m
going to use a gradient. Because on layer
masks you can paint with black or white
or shades of grey. If you use black
or white you will either fully remove or
fully add the effect. If you use shades of grey
you’re going to get a transitional effect, a sort of
partially transparent effect. So with the gradient
tool selected I’m just gonna click
here on the gradient. And the one I want
is this first one. It’s just the foreground
to background gradient. So I’ll just click OK. I want it to be a
linear gradient, so that’s the first one here
that is already selected. I’ll click on my layer
mask, ’cause I don’t want to dump this gradient
onto my painting, I want to dump it onto the mask. So I’m just gonna make
sure the mask is selected, and I’m just going to
drag across the image. If I hold the shift
key, I’m gonna make sure I drag in a perfectly
horizontal line. And everything’s
gone the wrong way. I wanted my charcoal on the left and my watercolour
painting on the right. So what I’m gonna do is
to reverse the gradient, I’m going to do
it all over again. Again, just making sure
that that mask is selected, just gonna hold shift as
I draw across the image. And this is the effect
that I was looking for, this partial transition from
a charcoal sketch on the left through to a painted
background on the right. And it’s this transition
where it’s white I’m seeing the charcoal
sketch, where it’s black I’m seeing the painted
layer underneath. And where it’s this sort of transitional grey
scale in the middle, I’m seeing a sort of seamless
blend of those two effects. So masks can be used to blend
two images into each other. But this is not a sort
of permanent blend, because this is a filter
and this is a smart object. So if I double click
on the filter gallery, I can reopen the filter. And if I don’t like
the filter settings, for example, then
I can change them. I can make it thicker, I can
change the dark light balance. I could even change to a
totally different filter. And then click OK, and the
effect is still in place. It’s just a different
filter applied. But the whole effect
was fully editable, because I used a layer
mask to do the transition. So let’s have a look
at nother example. And this is one of
those floral images. Now in this case I’m gonna
show you how you can use a mask to operate like a
sort of removable eraser. So I’ve got a layer here and it doesn’t actually
have a mask on it. So for me to add
a mask, I can just click here on the
add layer mask icon. And that just adds a layer mask. It doesn’t do anything to
the image because it’s white. But if we paint on
the image in black, it’s gonna change the image. So here this
transparent PNG file is on top of a white layer. So what I’m gonna do is use the mask to erase this piece here. So with the mask selected
I’m gonna make sure that black is my foreground
colour, ’cause that’s the colour I paint with
first select the paintbrush. I’m going to select my
brush, I still have that same brush selected, but in this
case I’m gonna increase the hardness ’cause I don’t
want any softness on it. So what I want to do is to
totally erase this element. I’ll adjust the size of the paintbrush and
just paint over it. Now I’m painting on the
mask, not on the image. You can see here,
there’s the mask. If I shift click on the mask, we can see the
element come back. It’s not actually being removed, it’s just being
hidden with the mask. So imagine if you had a
really really complex document and your client comes
to you and says oh, I’m not really sure about that
element, go and delete it. Well if you just
delete it or erase it, and they decide they
don’t like that, and you have to
put it back again, then you’re going to have
to be recreating elements. But if you use a
mask, and they say mm, didn’t really like that,
go and put it back again, well it’s a one click
solution, you just shift click on the mask and lo and behold
the element is replaced. Now while this is a
very simple example, it does go to show the
power of using masks in place of things
like the eraser tool. Masks just give you a whole lot more flexibility in your edits. Let’s go now to an image
which we worked on in a video where I was talking about using
the pen tool in Photoshop, and in particular using the
pen tool to make selections. So over here in the
paths pallette is a path. And it’s a path that
selects the car. I’m gonna select the path
with the path selection tool. Now let’s go to the
layers pallette. Now the masks that
we’ve looked at so far are what I call bitmap masks. They’re black and white and
grey scale bitmap images. But Photoshop can also
create vector masks. So with our vector
path selected, I’m gonna hold down the
control key on the PC, command on the Mac, and click
the add layer mask icon. And in this case we’re
creating a vector mask, rather than a bitmap mask. So here in the paths palette is the mask that goes
with that layer. And if I click on the
mask, I can select it. And I can also edit it. So you can have masks
that are bitmap, but you can also have masks
that are vector masks. Although probably most of
the time you’ll be using bitmap masks, just be
aware that there is also a vector type of mask and
you get to it by pressing the control or command key
as you create your mask. Now let’s look at
one final example. Here I have one of
those textures from the ultimate texture pack,
and it’s on top of just a photograph that
I shot in Hong Kong. What I want to do is to blend
these two images together. So I want to texturize my
image, partially because I want to get rid of
this extremely ugly sky. So in other videos’ we’ve
looked at using blend modes to blend textures, so here
I’m just going to drop down the blend mode list and
select the first blend mode. I’m gonna use the
down arrow key to just toggle through
the blend modes. On a Mac I would choose a tool
that’s not a paintbrush tool and I would use shift
plus and shift minus. I’m going back, because I
want to use colour burns. So this is the blend
mode I want to use. But I’m gonna drop
down the opacity, ’cause I think 100% is too much. Now in addition to using blend
modes and reduced opacity to blend this layer into the one
below, we can also use a mask. So with this layer
selected I’m just going to click to add a mask. And I’m going to paint
on this mask to change how this texture is
impacting the image below. Now to do that I’m gonna
click the paintbrush tool. And I’m going to go
and get one of the texture brushes from
that same texture pack. So I’ve got a texture
brush selected. And I’m going to the
brushes palette here and I’m going to just adjust
the spacing on this a bit. Let’s go to shape dynamics and let’s make it
vary in size a bit and in angle, and
a bit in roundness. Let’s go to scattering
and let’s have it scatter across both axes and
increase the count a bit. So we’ve got
something that’s going to paint as a nice
sort of texture brush. So let’s go back to our layers, I’m going to make sure that I
have this layer mask selected. I have black selected
as my paint colour. And so now I’m going to paint
on the image and as I do, you can see that the texture
is appearing in the mask. And what that’s doing
is partially removing this image from impacting
the image below. But I’m sort of adding
texture on texture, so I’m going to get a
really subtle effect. If we want to see the
mask, we already know that shift clicking on the
mask hides it, but we can also alt or option click on
the mask to see the mask. And this is the mask
that we’re creating. In fact we can work
on the mask just here. So this is the mask
that we’re seeing we’re actually
working on the mask. And then when I click back on
the layer here, we’re seeing the effect of the mask that
we just painted on the image. Now this mask is removable. If we decide we don’t
like it, we can just drag it onto the trash
can, at which point we’re asked whether
we want to remove it, just delete it, or actually
apply it to the image. If we apply it to the
image, this masked area is going to be actually
cut out of this image, so we’re gonna make a
permanent change to it. If we just delete it then
the mask’s just going to disappear and the layer
is back to being a fully opaque image but with these
settings applied to it. In everyday terms, as a
Photoshop user, masks are pretty much as complex as
Photoshop’s going to get. So if you can master
the art of using layers and masks in
creating your images, then there’s practically
nothing that Photoshop can throw at you that you won’t
be able to be the master of. I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning about
masks in Photoshop. Please let us know what you
think in the comments below, and gives us a thumbs up if
you enjoyed this tutorial. Until next time, I’m Helen
Bradley for Design Cuts.

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