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7.4 Layer Masks

It’s time to learn what a professional layer mask looks like and how to create a layer mask in Photoshop. This “non-destructive” mask is the key to properly masking out images in Photoshop.

7.4 Layer Masks

Hi there, in this video, we're gonna learn what a layer mask is. Basically, we're gonna take the same tutorial we did in the last video, but do it properly with something called a layer mask. The cool thing about them is you can turn them off later on, disable them, bringing back the background, fixing your masks, and then we'll really double back and look at this option. And you can see, we can fade the edges, we can break the link, we can move them around so that we've got more control, more professionalism, more awesome. Let's do that now in Photoshop. So what is this layer mask that I speak of? Okay, it's probably better just to go through and show you an example. You'll see all the perks and pros for using a layer mask. So I'm gonna double back and use the exact same files as the last tutorial, so 14A and B. And we're gonna get up to the point where we were at, so I'm using the Quick Selection Tool. Okay, and I'm just drawing around super quick, and I've got my selection right. And what we did before is then use the Move Tool to just drag it in, okay? The problem with that is it's something called destructive editing. And what I'm deciding is that, watch, as I move this out, I've cut that background out forever. And my selection is kind of fused forever and there's no going back from that. And that's not what I wanna do in Photoshop. I wanna make a selection, maybe a quick selection like this, and then maybe go and fix it up later on, or make adjustments or just have a bit of flexibility. To do that, you make your selection, like we did here, and instead of dragging it, you just click this button down here. Okay, it says, Add a Mask. Okay, and it's got a layer mask. And what happens is, we're gonna give it a click, and the background disappears. Okay, I need to go through and fix my edges, that's fine. There's a few little places that need touching up, but we'll do that in the next video. But what's happened is, can you see this layer structure over here? My image is protected, it's perfectly fine, there's nothing destroyed about it. This mask just sits over the top hiding things. And where that becomes really nice is that later on, I can go and fix, my mask will do a better edge on this, or reuse this image for something else where I don't need it to be masked. Let's go and use it, so I'm gonna grab my Move Tool, click hold and drag. Up at the top here, using my technique, you can see we end up in the same place, we've got the same kind of edge here. But you can see over here, the mask came along, which is lovely. And now I can do some modifications to the edge here, okay, whereas before I couldn't. So what I can do is, see this down here in my layers, I'll toggle between the two. Can you see those lines that appear on the outside? Cuz you can work on the image or the mask separately. You can see your Properties panel changes, depending on what part you got selected. I've got my layer mask selected, and it gives me options to play around with this mask. And real basic one is the feather, so watch this, I can crank up the feather and it just kind of feathers the edges a little bit. Okay, so it wasn't so bitzy and yucky, okay? Cuz it's on a black background, it's gonna kinda let the background of the actual image through. And often, this is all you need to do to get a selection looking nice, just give it a little bit of a feather. So let's look at what else you can do with it. So I can right-click on my mask and say just, Disable. I'm not turning it off forever. I can just see what was in the background there. It's not much, cuz it was a black image in the background. But if there were other elements that maybe are cropped off that shouldn't have cropped off, I can just double check. Okay, so this very similar thing than what we did in the last video, where we kind of cropped it out. But now we can go back. Yay for layer masks. So whenever I'm looking at people's work and I'm seeing if they're kind of self-taught or using it like a professional, I'd be always looking for layer masks to give future self or other people in the business that open your PSD files the ability to go back and adjust your mask. Either fix it or maybe just turn it off, so they can use the image. I can turn it back on by right-clicking it and going, Enable Layer Mask, or I can delete it forever and get rid of it, and maybe start again. So hopefully you can see the perks for a layer mask. What we'll do is we'll look at maybe another example that better shows its amazingness. Okay, so we're gonna go back to files we had open before. Remember we did this one here, we did 12A and B. Remember we used the circle, it was these two, remember? We copied and pasted this in. So we're gonna do the exact same thing again, but just use our layer mask to give ourselves like some professional awesome skills. So I'm gonna drag out my circle holding Shift. Get it there. And instead of just going to my Move Tool and dragging it out, cutting the background out and never to be used again, I'm gonna Undo. And I'm just gonna click this button. So it's not much in terms of what you do, except you can see here it's probably a better example. Where I've got this mask, this is black versus white, on top of my image, and the image is perfectly fine. Here is what's called nondestructive. Now we use my technique, grab the Move Tool, drag it into this one down here. Okay, now I can go through and start scaling it. So remember, I'm gonna use my shortcuts from now on, Cmd+T okay? I'm gonna scroll it down. Get it down. And let's look at some of the other perks. I'm gonna hit return. So that's done. Remember the edge we had before, which was real kind of, it was just really hard-edged, okay, so it didn't look really believable, as much as a galaxy in a cup does. Remember the feather? I can just kind of feather the edge here. I'll go with maximum feather so you can kind of see the edges there. But you can see I can kind of, I'll move it out so you can see it. It's got a blurry, feathery edge. Okay, and it just helps that to look slightly more believable. It gets better. Layer mask time, you can see at the moment it moves together, the mask and the image. But you can break that link. Se this little linking icon here? Click on it. Okay, and now, remember I click on my mask or my image. In this case, I wanna leave my mask where it is, because it's kinda in the right position for the coffee cup. But if I grab my image now, Move Tool, look at that, how pro are we? Okay, we can get our composition right, we'll make adjustments that the client asked us, or you get the idea, right? So, in this class so far, we've been doing destructive editing, okay? By just copying and pasting it or dragging it. From now on, though, you and me are gonna use layer masks. Turn the link back on, cuz otherwise it's a bit funny having them separate. [LAUGH] And now let's get into the next video, where we start tightening up some of the less easy selections to make. We've been doing it easy so far. Let's make it hard. Or at least harder. All right, see you in that video where we look at something called select and mask.

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