Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tips For Layer Masks & A Free Texture

Hello my lovelies.  Hope you are having a great weekend.  I want to thank those of you who linked up to Photo Art Friday this week.  What wonderful work you are creating and sharing here!  Thank you.

Have a sweet texture for you this week called "DreamWonder".  The image of the peony below has been treated with this texture. 

Since one of the options for next week's PAF is to showcase a piece of photo art on which you have applied one of my textures and used a Layer Mask to remove parts of the texture where you do not want it on your photograph, thought I would use my application of this new texture on my peony to illustrate how I employed a Layer Mask in this piece of work.

Here is the final image after the application of DreamWonder and other edits.

pdpa DreamWonder texture

Here is the texture applied to the photo and blended in Hard Light at 100% Opacity.  I actually quite like it just as it is, but let's see what it looks like if I use a Layer Mask to remove most of the texture from the petals. 

Since textures do not come with a layer mask as other adjustment layers do, you have to add one.  There are many ways to do this which I won't describe here.  (you can do a google search for the info, or if you are lucky, one comes with your editing program! :-)

On the right in the Layers Panel, you can see the white rectangle beside the thumbnail of the texture.  This indicates that I have added a Layer Mask.  I use The Coffee Shop Blog's Layer Mask Action.  The white thumbnail will show the adjustments I make to the texture now on my photograph. 

To remove (conceal) texture from the peony:

* add a Layer Mask to the texture layer and make sure it is activated by clicking on it

* click on the brush tool in the tools panel on the left of the screen

* make sure that black is the foreground color in the color swatch, at the bottom of the tools bar 

* in the top selection bar choose a soft, medium brush and lower the opacity of the brush, in this case I choose 45% opacity

* using the mouse to move the brush, make strokes on the peony petals only.  each stroke removes bits of the texture already applied.  you can see in the right layers panel the strokes made appear in black on the white Layer Mask thumbnail.  since I have gone over areas of the peony more than once with my brush, some of the areas appear more black than others

Looking at what I have done, it seems to me that too much texture has been removed (concealed).   I will add  some of the texture back (reveal), again using the Layer Mask.

To bring back (reveal) parts of layer removed:

* if I leave black as the foreground color and start to stroke on the peony again, more texture will be removed (concealed).  that is not what I want.

* to add back (reveal) texture that I just removed (concealed), the foreground color must be changed to white

* since I don't want to add back all of the texture I just removed, I go up to the top panel and lower the opacity of the soft, white brush down to 15%.  this way a small degree of the texture will be added back (revealed) with each stroke.

* brush size is enlarged so that I can just use a few quick strokes to bring back some texture

* on the Layer Mask thumbnail in the right Layers panel, you can see the dark strokes from the use of the black brush are being lightened by the use of the white brush.  this means some of the texture removed (concealed) with the black brush has now been added back (revealed) by the white brush.

I like the small amount of texture brought back to the peony, but the whole image a bit too intense.  Intensity of color can be changed by lowering the saturation and the lightness

To lower the saturation, in the right panel, I click on the round Adjustment icon and select Hue/Saturation.  I lower both the Saturation slider and the Lightness slider to get the soft, desaturated look desired.  Eh voila, done!

For your free download of pdpa DreamWonder texture, click HERE.

General Tips Re Layer Masks

*  layer masks help you change the effects of one layer on the layer below

* click on the layer mask thumbnail itself to activate, not just the layer.  when it is activated you will see an outline appears around it

* a white brush shows (reveals) the layer you are working on (in this case a texture layer)

* a black brush hides (conceals) the layer (in this case a texture layer) and shows you whatever is in the layer below (in this case the peony)

* the magic is that while it looks like you have erased parts of the texture when you use a black brush, it has not been erased (it has only been concealed) and you can bring back (reveal) what you concealed by switching to the white brush.  you can alternate back and forth between white and black brushes as many times as you want

* areas of the layer you remove with a black brush will show up on the layer mask thumbnail as black (you are not actually painting black on your image - it is just how the tool shows you it is working).  so in this case on the layer mask thumbnail you see the black image of the peony shape because I stroked over only the peony to remove texture

* reset your color selection swatch in your tools bar to default (black foreground/white background) by hitting the "D" key

* switch between foreground and background colors by hitting the "X" key

So good luck my lovelies!  There is so much more to know and do with a Layer Mask, but hopefully the above information, along with previous tutorials you have read or watched, will help you. 

If you still feel you need more practice with Layer Masks before you showcase a piece of photo art where you have used one, feel free to post any piece of photo art you choose next week.  It would be nice, however, if you would tell us a bit about how your effort at using them went - perhaps articulating any questions you may have.  Some of those with more experience may be able to provide the answer you need.

Sharing with Lisa Gordon's The Creative Exchange.


  1. Oh Bonnie this is just great!!! Just what i needed, so tomorrow , this is my project. Cant wait, in fact, would be so easy to just stay up all night and try this out, but.... tomorrow is another day! Thank you so much also for the great texture to try this out on. Already downloaded and ready to go in the morning!

  2. Thank you, Bonnie - this looks like a really cool texture mask. Thanks for the gift and for sharing. Karen

  3. Gorgeous!! Love the pic and the layering! And the tutorial is fabulous.

  4. Wonderful photography.
    I like the post-processing very much.

    Regards and best wishes

  5. I'm practicing but not quite getting this yet. I appreciate your explanations and the textures you offer us.

  6. What a beautiful image, and wonderful tutorial Bonnie!
    I just know that this will be so useful to many for this weeks Photo Art Friday.
    Thank you for posting it here, and for being so kind in sharing it with us at The Creative Exchange.

    Have a wonderful evening!


  7. Great work and a beautiful texture Bonnie :)

  8. I thought I'd share another tutorial on creating a layer mask in PSE 8 that I saw on YouTube. Creating a layer mask in PSE 8.
    Stay inspired!


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