Chapter 18. Working with Layer Masks, Clipping Masks, and Smart Objects


  • Working with layer masks

  • Blending with gradient masks

  • Masking color adjustments

  • Masking solids, gradients, and patterns

  • Clipping images

Selections, alpha channels, and Quick Masks all work to the same ends: to protect a region from the application of a tool or operation while exposing other areas to their effects. But Photoshop's masking capabilities can also combine visual elements in unique and rather surprising ways. Layer masks reveal or conceal areas of a layer from view. They offer the capability of manipulating the opacity or transparency of pixels on isolated areas of a content layer.

Photoshop also offers the ability to use the transparent portions of layers to mask content by creating clipping masks; a very useful method of superim-posing one image over another. And to pile even more onto the heap, in Photoshop CS3, Smart Object layers offer the ability to mask filter effects. This chapter shows you how to use these extremely useful features to your best advantage.

Working with Layer Masks

The Opacity slider on the Layers palette is a global adjustment — it controls the transparency of all the pixels on a layer. Reducing the opacity gives you the ability to see through the layer content to the layers below. With a layer mask you can control the transparency of the specific region of a layer. Layer masks look similar to alpha channels but they reside in the Layers palette next to the thumbnail ...

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