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 ...
Open your image and duplicate the background - this is the image I am using for this masking technique.
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.
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 ...
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 - 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 - 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 ...
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 ...
And these are the two layers palettes ...
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.
It certainly looks impressive, doesn't it?
This whole masking thing really is quite straight forward and easy to do.
This vdeo covers both the Black and White conversion using two Hue and Saturation layers as well as Mask Layers ..
This video covers the Multiply blend Mode as well as 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
Video - Black and White Conversion and Mask LayersVideo - Multiply Blend Mode and 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 MasksSee - masks are absolutely everywhere ... OK - this really is silly but I just couldn't help myself
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