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Working non destructively in Photoshop is quite important and layer masks is one way of doing it. Instead of using the eraser tool and delete unwanted parts of an image, use layer masks instead to hide that part of the image. That way you always have the possibility to recover it. In this episode I will demonstrate how to use layer masks.
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Stock images used
- Landscape image: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1086684
- Sky image: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=108861
Layer masks are a step further of using the eraser tool. You can pretty much tell the difference between a beginner and a more advanced user just by seeing if he/she uses the eraser tool instead of using layer masks.
Layer masks are used to hide part of a layer’s content. You can create a layer mask for any layer and you can only have one layer mask per layer. Some layers, such as adjustment layers, when you create them they automatically appear with a layer mask so you don’t have to create it.
You can only paint with black and white and tones of gray on a layer mask. The tone of gray used, determines the opacity. So, for instance if you paint with pure black you hide content, it’s like using the eraser tool at opacity 100%. When you paint with pure white you reveal content. Painting with shades of gray you get different opacities.