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Photoshop Tutorials For The Brainy Beginner. Step 5-02: get a grab on the layer masks.

Photoshop Tutorials For The Brainy Beginner.

Step 5-02: get a grab on the layer masks.


This is a sequel on the Step 5 tutorial. Some practice with the principle of layer masks is needed.


1) Open a new image. Fill the background whit a nice red. You can change the foreground color by clicking on the foreground square at the bottom of the Tools panel. Rename the background Red by double clicking on the name in the Layers panel.


2) CTRL+J to duplicate the layer. Fill it with a nice blue. Name the layer Blue.


3) Add a new layer mask (F3 if you followed the previous tutorials). Note that the mask icon is entirely white. The image is entirely blue. That is because the layer Blue is totally visible/opaque. The layer Blue is totally opaque because the mask is totally white. If you followed precisely the above the mask is active.


4) Hit CTRL+I to inverse the color (negative). Since the mask was all white it is now all black. The image however is now all red. This is because the Blue layer is totally invisible/transparent.


If you have trouble figuring it out, you can think:


The layer is the paint. The layer mask is the white paper on which we laid the paint. If you make a hole in the paper by burning it (turning it black) you’ll see the page under it.


What is confusing is that we always paint in the image. This is very useful but confusing at the beginning. When the layer is active (the layer image surrounded by the white square) we paint on the layer. When the mask is active we paint inside the mask. In both cases our brush is physically on the image.


Photoshop actually has 2 shortcuts for switching from the layer to the mask. CTRL+2 will let us work with the layer and CTRL+& will activate the mask. It is rather logical. CTRL+2/3/4/5 will let us see and work with the RGB/RED/GREEN/BLUE channels. It makes sense to have CTRL+ “AND” to work with what is associated with the layer.



Delete the mask (CRTL+ALT+SHIT+F3). Create a new mask. Choose a round soft brush. Adjust the size by hitting the “:” or “!” keys. Press numpad 0 to set the brush opacity to 100%. Press D and then X to have black as the foreground color. Paint in the image a little bit. See the result.


Press numpad 5 to set the brush opacity to 50% and paint the image a bit. Repeat with various opacity values.

Press X (or D) to have white as the foreground color. Do the same thing.


Activate the layer (CTRL+2). Press D to have black as the foreground color. 0 for the 100% opacity. Paint in the image.


Why are there areas where you can’t paint and others where you can only paint a little bit? Is something wrong with the program?


Hit CRTL+ALT+SHIT+F3 and you’ll have the answer. If not, just ask.

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