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Working with Masks in Adobe Photoshop

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A non-destructive method for hiding portions of an image or layer without erasing them is layer masking. Masking is a technique used to clear dense or complex map content. Masking layers are effective for removing a person or item from a picture as well as merging many photos into one image.

Types of Masks

You can make two different kinds of masks:

  1. Layer Masks: Bitmap images with varying resolutions known as layer masks can be modified using painting or selection tools.
  2. Vector Masks: Vector masks can be made with a pen or a shape tool that is independent of resolution.

Since layer and vector masks are non-destructive, you can alter them again in the future without losing the pixels they hid over. The layer and vector masks both show up as an additional thumbnail to the right of the layer thumbnail in the Layers window.



The add mask button, located at the bottom of the layers panel in Adobe Photoshop, can be used to generate both layer and vector masks. The mask can also be edited using the Adobe Photoshop properties panel. Options include inverting the mask, feathering the edges, and adjusting the opacity to let more or less of the masked content through.



Creating an image with a layer mask 

Step 1: Open two images. At the top of the document window, each of the open images has its own tab.



Step 2: Place another image that you want to mask on the original image.



Step 3: Click the Add layer mask button in the Layers window with the selection tool chosen. Where a selection was made on the layer mask, it is white. Where there was no selection, it is black.



Step 4: Select the brush tool and then do the following changes to the image-

1. Black: Make black the foreground color. Use the brush tool to paint over any areas of the image you want to remove.



2. White: Make white the foreground color. Use the brush tool to paint over any areas of the image you want to appear.



3. Gray: Choose any shade of gray in the foreground color. Use the brush tool to paint over any areas of the image you want to be dimly visible or slightly visible.



Creating an image with a vector mask 

A vector mask shows the path where the object removes the layer’s contents.

Step 1: Use the pen or shape tools to create a vector path.



Step 2: Choose the layer that will store the vector mask. At the bottom of the layers panel, press the “Add mask” button twice.



Step 3: Density and feathering can be modified using the properties panel.



Editing Layer and Vector Masks: Right-click on the thumbnail of the mask to turn it on or off or to erase it.



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Last Updated : 15 Mar, 2023
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