How to Mask in Photoshop to Hide Layers.
Masking is an important technique to learn when you start working with Photoshop. You can use it for many purposes, such as removing part of a photo or hiding unwanted objects. Luckily, understanding how to mask in Photoshop is easy to get started within minutes!
In this article, you will learn how to mask and use masking to hide parts of layers that you do not want to show in the last photo.
What Are Masks?
When you add a mask to a layer, it essentially gives you the ability to add or remove portions of that layer. Next to the layer, after adding the mask, you will see a grayscale square showing which parts of the layer have changed.
When you use the Brush tool and paint over the layer with black, it removes that part. If you paint it white it will add it back. You can be more precise by using the selection tool and painting over the selection with any color.
You may be wondering why you should use a mask instead of just erasing parts of the layer. Masks are non-destructive, that is, when you delete parts of a layer, you are not deleting anything. Therefore, if you decide that you want to return this or that part, the image will not lose quality. You can also use masks to achieve many more effects than the eraser alone allows.
How to Add a Mask in Photoshop
To add a new mask to a Photoshop layer, follow these steps.
- If you want to add a mask to the background layer, turn it into a regular layer by right-clicking it and go to the layer from the background. Then name the layer and click OK.
- Select the layer you want to add a mask to in the Layers panel.
- At the bottom of the Layers panel, click the Add Layer Mask icon. Photoshop will add a mask to your selected layer.
- To remove a mask, right-click it and choose Remove Layer Mask.
How to Use a Mask to Hide Parts of Layers
Now that you’ve added your mask, it’s time to use it. For this example, I’m going to change the coffee background in the image.
- First I added the background image on a new layer and placed it behind the coffee layer.
- Now to use the mask, first select it.
- Select the selection tool and select the part of the layer you want to keep.
- Go to Select & Mask in the Options Bar and click it.
- From the Output drop-down list in the lower-right corner, select Output to Layer Mask.
- The mask should now hide the unselected part, and all layers below will be visible.
You can clear the selection if you like using a brush, remove it with black and add white.
How to Use a Mask to Hide or Show an Entire Layer
Another way to use a mask in Photoshop is to hide or show all of any layer. To do this:
- In the Layers panel, select the layer you want to hide or show.
- Go to Layer> Layer Mask> Hide All or Show All, whichever you want.
Unlinking Masks From Layers
The mask is automatically linked to the selected layer, that is, when you move the layer, the mask moves with it. If you disable them, you can move them independently of each other.
- In the Layers panel, find a small chain link icon between the layer image and the mask.
- Click this icon to disconnect them from each other.
- To link the mask to the layer, click again between the image and the mask.
Change Mask Transparency or Feathering
Changing the opacity of the mask as well as blurring the edges of the mask can help you achieve the desired look in your photo.
Here’s how to change the opacity of the mask:
- Find the layer with the mask you want to change and select the mask itself.
- In the Properties panel, above the Layers panel, find the Density slider.
- Moving the slider closer to 0% will make the selected mask more transparent, and 100% will completely cover the bottom layer (s).
To change the feathering of the mask:
- Do the same as in the first step above.
- In the Properties panel, find the Feather slider. Moving this slider will change the value of the feathering effect on the edges of the mask. A higher value will mean more feathering.
Feathering can be a good way to make layers look more natural instead of rough edges.
Refining Mask Edges
It is difficult to select the edges of an object perfectly, so there are ways to refine your selection. An easy way to do this with masks is to use the Select and Mask workspace in Photoshop.
- Select the mask layer you want to edit, then click the mask thumbnail to select it.
- In the options bar, choose Select And Mask.
You will enter the Select & Mask workspace. Here you can choose from several options to improve your advantage. It is easy to try different refinement modes.
Object awareness comes in handy when choosing complex shapes such as hair or blurred backgrounds. Color awareness is good if the image has easily identifiable solid colors.
Masking Is an Essential Basic Skill
The ability to hide, show, or isolate parts of an image makes masks a powerful Photoshop editing tool at your disposal. For example, layer masks can help you replace color in any photo.
Have you tried layer masking in Photoshop for quick editing?
How to Mask in Photoshop to Hide Layers
How to Mask in Photoshop to Hide Layers