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Working with Layer Masks in Adobe Photoshop

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Jordan Younce
  By Jordan Younce
Working with Layer Masks in Adobe Photoshop www.sleeklens.com

This video is intended to help you understand how best you can work with Layer masks in Photoshop as part of your photo editing. Layer masks are very important when it comes to the manipulation of your photos. Layer masks are arguably some of the most versatile and helpful tools that Photoshop has.

We will be working on replacing the sky in the top photo (You will realize there are two photos uploaded here. One is a building photo and the other one is a sky photo). The main objective is to get the sky to the blue section.

One of the quickest and easy ways to do this is to select the building and apply layer mask thus removing everything but leave the building intact. One of the ways to do this is to select the building with any kind of selection you know how to use. For this photo, the selection is already loaded and therefore we will only choose that really quickly. Before we apply the layer masks, you will notice that this photo is not fully selected but some things are left out and a bit messy. There are also some things left out on the picture and this was done purposely so you can see what is happening.

With the selection saved, what we will be doing to keep the building but remove everything else is apply the layer mask. At the bottom, you see a rectangle with a black circle and we will click on the button. This will automatically remove everything else but keep the building. It also puts a small box that is called “Layer Mask Thumbnail” that allows you to continue editing your pictures.

With this done, you can play around with the cloud. Everything will be easy to move or change and we will make the sky a little larger. The colors obviously don’t match and doesn’t blend that well, but this tutorial is basically intended for layer masks. With the sky enlarged, we go to the thumbnail to fix some of the areas using a regular brush. We can use two colors and that is either black or white; black to conceal and white to reveal. To paint everything properly, we will use a feathered brush and set it at around 25% or so. We will start painting white on the layer thumbnail since doing it on the photo will give you a weird effect. Painting with the feathered brush will leave some soft edges on the building. These can be replaced with hard edges achievable by painting with black color so as to keep the sky.

Once done, we will do the same thing with the shy by painting black again. This is the quick and easy way to do this. You will notice that there is a lock between the two layers. Clicking on this lock will somehow hide the relationship between the two layers. Moving the lock around will keep the shape of the building while the one underneath stays the same. Although this is not what we want to do, you will realize that is what happens when we have the lock and move it around. This can be helpful when doing compositing in Photoshop where you need to move buildings, trees, mountains or anything else around. We can also move the lock to help with the composition of this photo by moving the building over a little bit.

That’s basically how you work with layer masks in Adobe Photoshop to either reveal or hide some sections of a layer using a mask. You can learn more regarding Photoshop, Lightroom and general photography from other informative posts and videos available in Sleeklens blog. These are great resources to help advance your photography skills and techniques.

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Jordan Younce

Jordan Younce

I am a Real Estate and Landscape photography as well as a Graphic Designer based in North Carolina, USA. My passion for photography started with taking photos with a point-and-shoot and now I own a successful photography business. My goal is to help others learn the art of photography, develop their creative side and just have fun.

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