How to use Layer Masks in Photoshop

Hello and welcome all to the lesson nr. 4 of our Photoshop lessons series.

Today I`ll speak about layer masks and I`ll show you how to create a black and white picture with some colored areas and how to merge two pictures,using layer masks.

In Photoshop,a Layer Mask is the best way to hide and reveal certain parts of a layer.

To add a Mask to a layer,first you must select the respective layer and then click on the Mask button.You may find the button in the bottom area of the layer`s section.


You`ll notice that in the right side of the layer will appear a thumbnail.


To start using the layer mask,click on the layer mask thumbnail and start hiding and revealing layers.

Next,I`ll present you some examples of using layer masks.You`ll see that those masks will become a must have in your next Photoshop projects.

Create a black and white picture with colored areas

In the first example I`ll show you how to create a black and white picture.After,I`ll reveal some colored areas from the initial image.

First step,download this flowers arrangement photo to get started.After you download it,load the image into Photoshop.


Next,we`re going to make the picture a black and white one.Go to Layer->New Adjustment Layer->Hue/Saturation and apply the next settings:



To make the image more lighter,go to Layer->new Adjustment Layer->Brightness/Contrast and change the brightness and contrast of the image.


Now we have a back and white image:


Let`s reveal a little color.Click on the layer mask thumbnail of the Hue/Saturation layer.The reason is simple.The layer mask hides the initial picture by painting over the black and white effect.So,to reveal the colors,we must delete the respective areas of the mask.

Now,with the Hue/Saturation layer mask selected,choose a Soft brush and start revealing the colored areas.


Start painting with the brush tool where you want to color.


The image is ready:


Here`s another images that I modified to show you how great is this procedure:



How to merge two pictures

In this example,I`ll show you how to merge two images. One of the tasks that you find yourself doing in Photoshop is cutting stuff out, putting them somewhere they don’t belong and making them fit in.I`ll show you a way to do this,using a layer mask. We`re going to add a sailing boat on a tropical sea.

Download those two pictures:The sailing boat and tropical sea.

Load them into Photoshop.



Now I`m showing you how to paste the boat picture over the tropical sea.When you load a picture into Photoshop,you notice that the first layer,named Background is locked and it can`t be edited.To make it editable,double click the Background layer.


The layer has been transformed into a editable layer,named Layer0.


To select the layer,Ctrl+Click it.Copy the selection and paste it over the tropical sea picture.


Next step is to add a layer mask to the boat layer.Click on the layer mask button to add one.


Now click on the layer mask thumbnail to select it.


In other words,to use correctly the layer mask,select the foreground color to black.This way,you`ll delete the entire areas around the boat.Otherwise,you`ll have traces of colors from the image.


Choose an Airbrush round and start painting the boat image.You`ll observe how the tropical sea is revealed.If you want to zoom the image to work more accurate,press Ctrl+ “+” .



After you`ll finish the paint job,you`ll have a boat on a tropical sea.But only a few will realize that there are two images in one.For the rest this is a real image.


If you want to see more,check out the Landscape Photo Manipulation tutorial and see how the two images are merged.Below is the final image of the tutorial:


That was all for today.I hope you`ve learned something from it! See you next time!

If you like this post,please subscribe to the OURTUTS RSS Feed for more photoshop tuts and articles.


Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]

Madalin Tudose

A web developer with a crush on SEO. Having my skin in the game of website development and digital marketing for more than 10 years already, you might consider me an expert. At least this is what people call me. Honestly, I HATE that term. I prefer to describe myself as a person who takes action and risks. I test every hypothesis, document every step of the process, and implement what works.