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PHOto shop t u to r i a l c s 4 - A D D I N G A LAY ER MAS K T O AN I MAGE A layer mask is a way to hide a part of a layer enabling you can see through to layers underneath. No pixels are deleted or altered in the image, this is often referrred to as a non-destructive approach. Layer masks are commonly used to remove a backround or cut an object out of an image. Layer masks use a black an white image to represent transparency on the layer. Anywhere that is black on the layer mask is transparent on the layer, anywhere that is white on the layer maks is visible on the layer. Greys represent levels of tranparency.


In the screen capture of my layers panel you can see that I have a layer at the bottom that I have filled with white. Above that I have a pattern layer, above that a solid color layer and above that I have an image of a buddha statue that I found on In this exercise we will go over the process of creating a mask for the buddha layer. Below you can see the original image and the masked image sie by side.

Link to video tutorial on the subject


Layer Masks 1. Open the image that you want to mask. Open the Layers Panel by going to Window > Layers. 2. If the layer is a background layer double click on it and click OK to make the layer a regular transparent layer. You can’t add a layer mask to a background layer because a background layer doesn’t support transparency. 5. Click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. Once you do that you should see that the background becomes transparent.

3. Next we need to select the object that we are going to mask. For this particular object I’m going to use The Pen Tool. Draw all the way around the image using the Pen Tool until you create a completed path. 4. Still on the Pen Tool, right click or control click (Mac) to access the context menu and choose make selection.

Now you can add whatever back ground you like. I had made a pattern and then added a pattern layer below my image but you could drag a photographic image in from another file or create another layer and fill it or paint on to it. I also added a stroke of white as a layer Style from the FX list at the bottom of the Layers Panel.


Layer Masks