Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Photoshop Layer Masks, how and why

Layer masks are a great asset to Photoshop and can open up an entire new world of photo editing – once you know how to use them. If you already understand the concept of layers, you know that layers can be adjusted in transparency – referred to as the opacity level in Photoshop. This makes the top layer invisible to a certain extent and allows the bottom layer to be seen. This is adjusted using a percentage rate – 90% opacity would be barely see-through, while 10% opacity would make the layer virtually invisible.

Wouldn’t it be great to select which areas of your layer you want transparent, and which remain visible?

This is entirely achievable with layer masks by adding one to your layer – which you can then use your brush tool to paint on. A black brush will remove parts of your layer that you don’t want visible, and a white brush will do the opposite – in other words, it will reduce the transparency.………more

by Christopher O’Donnell

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