Adobe Photoshop is a very powerful tool. As my high school digital media teacher would say, “You can create anything and do everything in Photoshop.” This statement is one that has struck me as true. If someone understands Photoshop and the application of its many features, the creative possibilities are endless. One important tool in Photoshop is the masking tool, or the layer mask, and unlike the Billboard Top 100 song, we will be leaving the mask on.
The masking tool or layer mask is a feature that allows you to cover up all of or parts of a layer without fully erasing certain aspects of it. By using this tool, you would not have to go through the hassle of undoing any erasing, and to save time and effort, you can directly re-add parts of the layer that you’ve previously masked!
If everything I just said sounded like complete gibberish to you, don’t worry, I have a mini-tutorial for you. Here’s what you do:
a. Select the layer mask. It should appear on the layer that you have selected. b. Click on one of the selection tools (the rectangular marquee is used here).
c. Drag your mouse over the part of the layer that you want to select.
a. Click the two-headed arrow by the foreground color and background color boxes to invert the colors (here, the foreground color has been switched from white to black, and the background color has been switched from black to white). b. Select one of the painting tools (the brush tool has been selected here). c. Paint over the part of the layer you selected to “mask” it.
a. To remove a layer mask, or part of a layer mask, choose one of the selection tools (here, the polygonal lasso is selected). b. If you are not removing the whole mask, select the parts of the layer you wish to make visible. Otherwise, just go ahead and select the whole masked portion of the layer. c. Select one of the painting tools (the brush tool is selected here). d. Click the two-headed arrow by the foreground color and background color boxes to switch back the colors (here, the foreground color has been switched from black to white, and the background color has been switched from white to black). e. Paint over the part of the layer you selected to “unmask” it.
To learn more about the masking tool, you can visit Adobe’s online Photoshop User Guide here. Even better, you can come down to the Student Multimedia Design Center and check it out on Photoshop itself, which is installed on every computer in the center!