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     Title:     Introduction to Layer Masks
Author:kromefx | view all by kromefx
Description:This tutorial will show you the basics of layer masks including what a mask is, how to use masks, and 3 different methods of implementation.

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Step 1
First of all you should know what a mask is. A mask is just what it sounds like; it defines what parts of the layer can be seen. Just like if you were to put on a real mask, like a ski mask, the mask would cover most of your face, but leave your eyes and mouth exposed. If we put a mask on a layer, we get to decide which parts of the layer are seen, and which parts allow the layers below to be exposed. Let's do a quick example to help you get the concept. Let's say that you had an image open in Photoshop with the two layers below.

Step 2
The boxes are the same size, so the only part of the image you would see is the green box. Let's say you wanted some of the red box to show through, this can be accomplished with a layer mask. I can add a layer mask to the green layer and draw a big X. This would tell Photoshop that wherever I draw, let the layer(s) below show through.

Step 3
Let's look at how to accomplish this exactly. Create a new image, and make two layers. I am using the two layers shown below, but you can use anything you want. Right now, all you will see is the top layer, but we will add a mask so that some of the bottom layer shows through. Click on the top layer and go to Layer>Add Layer Mask>Reveal All.

Step 4
You will notice that once you select Reveal All, your layers palette changes.

Step 5
This is the layer mask itself. Notice that it is all white at the moment, and your image did not appear to change. Layer masks only consist of 2 colors, white and black. White means that you should see the layer, and black means that you should see the layers below. To illustrate, I will draw a big, black X with the paintbrush on the layer mask.

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