Mask Layers


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Mask layers seem to cause some (or a lot) of confusion with Paint Shop users - especially new users.  Once you add them to your basic knowledge of Paint Shop you will find them very useful in many of your projects.

They are fabulous for all kinds of things but we are going to start off with their most basic use and that is they are used to hide or reveal a portion of what is on a layer below the Mask.

This is what the previous statement means ...

Let's say you applied an effect on a copy of the Background layer (Chrome or a Blend Mode or something like that) but you don't want the effect to cover the complete image.

To achieve the result you want you can either create a Show All Mask Layer and paint out the portion you don't want or create a Hide All and paint in the part you do want.

Here is the step-by-step, methodical approach to using Masks with an image.  They really are not difficult to use but they may be a tad confusing when you first try them out ...

Step 1 - Adjust The Image


Open your image and duplicate the background - this is the image I am using for this masking technique.

mask layers bat woman

It's an interesting image of a pavement artist finishing up a great drawing of Batwoman.  It's kind of a flat image so I changed the Blend Mode to Multiply to make the drawing stand out.

maks layers mask layers layers
Blend Mode
Changed to Multiply
Layers Palette

The important part of the image (at least to me) is Batwoman but it is kind of lost in the overall image because everything is so dark after changing the Blend Mode.

So how the heck are we going to fix this - how about a Mask Layer?

Looking at the image will lead to these conclusions ...

  1. either the image of Batwoman has to remain as is with the other stuff being removed, or
  2. the image has to return to its original state so you can paint in the adjustments.

Step 2 - Add A Mask Layer


mask layers



To add a Mask Layer either select Layers > New Mask Layer > ShowAll or Hide All or ...

drop down the Layer Selector in the Layers Palette and select New Mask Layer > Show All or Hide All.



Hide All

Hide palette

Hide All
- this means all the adjustments just completed will be hidden so you have to paint them back with white paint in on the Mask.

The Mask, in this case, is black so it is hiding all of the adjustment on the copy of Background layer.

To make a part of the copy of Background visible you have to paint with White on the Mask.





Show All
mask layers show palette


Show All
- this means all fo the adjustmens just completed will remain visible so you have to paint out the parts you don't want with black paint on the mask.

This is exactly the opposite of Hide All.  All of the adjustments are visible and to hide some of them you need to paint with black on the Mask.





If, for instance, you have a couple of Adjustment Layers above the copy of Background layer then you will not be able to add the Mask Layer until you do some additional modifications.

What needs to happen is that the Adjustment Layers need to be merged into the Copy of Background layer.  To do that ...

  1. Select the Adjustment Layer immediately above the Copy of Background.
  2. Go to Layers > Merge > Merge Down - this will merge the Adjustment Layer immediately and the Copy of Background.
  3. Now select the remaining Adjustment Layer above the Copy of Background and do the Merge again,
  4. Now you can add a Mask Layer.
mask layer merge




Step 3 - Paint On The Mask Layer


For me the choice comes down to how much work has to be done to complete the project.  With this image it was much easier and faster to Hide all and paint Bat Woman back in than to Show All and paint out the artist and all of the pavement.

It is also a whole lot easier to paint on the mask with a Wacom tablet - Bamboo or Intuos - with the Brush Dynamic set to size.  This allows you to get into tight spaces with a small brush without having to mess about with brush settings in the middle of your work.

No matter what you choose you will end up at exactly the same place - like this ...

mask layers hide all mask layers show all
Hide All Show All

And these are the two layers palettes ...

mask layers hide all mask layers how all
Layers Palette
Hide All
Layers Palette
Show All

When you want to see what the mask looks like you can turn on and off the Mask Visibility.   This is accomplished by clicking on the little mask face on the right side of the layers palette on the mask layer.  You can see in the screen shot that the little face turns red when the mask is visible on your image.

mask layers mask view mask layers show layer red
The Mask The Palette

It certainly looks impressive, doesn't it?  

This whole masking thing really is quite straight forward and easy to do.


The Video(s)

This vdeo covers both the Black and White conversion using two Hue and Saturation layers as well as Mask Layers ..


Black and White Conversion
and Mask Layers

This video covers the Multiply blend Mode as well as Mask Layers.


Multiply Blend Mode
and Mask Layers

Now you know the secret of Mask Layers so have a go with them - they really are not that difficult and you will find them very useful!




On Page Links

Adjust The Image

Add A Mask Layer

Paint On The Mask Layer

Video - Black and White Conversion and Mask Layers

Video -  Multiply Blend Mode and Mask Layers

Mask Layers

Mask layers show or hide portions of underlying layers. 

A mask is an adjustment layer that modifies opacity. You can use masks to create sophisticated effects, such as a picture frame that fades away at the center to reveal the subject.

Now you already know pretty much all you need to know about masks - who could ever forget the line 

"Who was that masked man" ...

or how about the movie "The Mask"?

Typically masks hide things (like identities)  and that is part of what a Mask Layers in Paint Shop will do as well.


A Few Famous Masks

See - masks are absolutely everywhere ... OK - this really is silly but I just couldn't help myself

mask layer mask

mask layers mask

mask layer catchers mask


mask layers the mask


mask layers lone ranger

mask layers darth










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