Check out this beginner’s guide to layer masks in Photoshop
Layer masks are one of the most wonderful and powerful tools that have ever been added to Photoshop’s repertoire. Trying to imagine what life was like before them just seems kind of light a nightmare. I use them almost daily in my work with Photoshop, whether it be for photography projects or images to illustrate articles here on DIYP.
But they’re a little confusing for those still learning Photoshop, and there’s a lot more to them than most people think, too. Fortunately, landscape and commercial photographer Mark Duffy has put together this handy 17-minute guide going over everything you ever needed to know to get started with layer masks.
One of the biggest advantages of layer masks is that they allow you to work non-destructively. It was a revelation to Photoshop users when it was introduced as it now allowed them to hide parts of a layer without completely erasing them. If you wanted to hide something, you just painted black on the mask. If you wanted to bring it back again, you just paint white.
Before this, we’d have to duplicate our layer, hide it, and then start hacking away at it, deleting pixels, hoping we didn’t mess it up. If we did, we’d have to delete the layer, duplicate the original layer again and try again on that new duplicate. It was a pain!
But layer masks are so much more powerful and capable beyond this simple ability to show or hide sections of the current layer. And Mark’s video barely scratches the surface of what they can do, but it sure will give you a lot of information to get you started.
Do you struggle with Photoshop’s layer masks?
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.