Posts tagged "Layers"

October 17, 2016

Making Selections on Layers with Masks in Photoshop CC

If you use a Smart Filter’s mask to hide the effects of a Smart Filter, Photoshop will still make selections based on the filtered content – even though it is hidden.

Here is the original photo of an Iceberg. I’ve converted it to a smart object so that I can add the Path Blur filter as a Smart Filter.


Below shows after adding the Path Blur (listed as Blur Gallery on the Layers panel) as a Smart Filter. Notice that the entire layer is blurred.


I drew a linear gradient in the Smart Filter’s mask to reveal the Path Blur in the water, but hid it from the iceberg.


Using the Quick Select tool, I expected Photoshop to easily select the sky, but it selected the iceberg as well (because Photoshop applies the blur to the entire layer – the mask was only  hiding the filter).


Hiding the Path Blur (by toggling off the eye icon next to Blur Gallery), enabled the Quick Select tool to easily select the sky.


In the final image below, I added the new sky layer, used the selection to add a mask so that they sky wouldn’t overlap the iceberg, and toggled back on the visibility next to the Blur Gallery to display the Path Blur filter in the water.


4:50 AM Comments (0) Permalink
July 11, 2016

Document Layer Count in Photoshop CC 2015.5

To quickly view the number of layers in a document, click the chevron to the right of the status box (at the bottom of the image preview area) and choose Layer Count.

2016_07_10Layer Count

Or, use the flyout menu on the Info panel to enable Layer Count. In addition, the Info panel has the option to Always Show Composite Values.



5:02 AM Permalink
June 15, 2016

Blending Layer Groups in Photoshop

Layer Groups are, by default, set to display blending effects (such as opacity, blend modes etc.) just like any other layer in Photoshop. For example, if a layer in a Layer Group has its blend mode is set to “Multiply”, it will be multiplied (blended) with all other layers below it. In this default state, clicking on the Layer Group in the Layers panel displays “Pass Through” as the Layer Group’s blend mode (i.e: any blending applied to layers within the group is “passing through” the group to be applied to the layers below it).


Each Layer’s blend mode is set to multiply. The Layer Group is set to Pass Through.

Each Layer’s blend mode is set to multiply. The Layer Group is set to Pass Through.

To change this default behavior and limit the blending between layers to only those layers within the Layer  Group, target the Layer Group in the Layers panel and set the Layer Group’s blend mode to “Normal”. Note: the circles are still multiplied within the Layer Group (if each layer was set to Normal instead of multiply, all of the circles would appear the same color, but not the Background because the Background is not in the Layer Group).

Each Layer’s blend mode is set to multiply. The Layer Group is set to Normal.

Each Layer’s blend mode is set to multiply. The Layer Group is set to Normal.


5:05 AM Permalink
June 14, 2016

Clipping Masks in Photoshop

Clipping masks are most commonly used when an adjustment needs to be applied to a single layer (or Layer Group) in a document. For example, if you have a triptych of images (each on their own layer) within a single document and need to adjust only one of the images, you can add an adjustment layer and “clip” it so that it only effects the single image (layer).


The original document has three photos on three different layers. The middle layer needed to be adjusted independently from the ones on either side.

To create a clipping mask, add the adjustment layer, then click the Clipping Mask icon at the bottom of the Properties panel. As you modify the adjustment layer, it will only effect the layer that it is “clipped” to. Visually, you will know that the layers are clipped because the bottom most layer’s name will be underlined in the Layers panel, and the clipped layer(s) will be indented with an arrow pointing downwards towards the base layer. You can clip more than one layer to a base layer and you can clip layers to layer groups as well!



To isolate the effects of the curves adjustment layer, it’s clipped to the photo below it.

Another use of clipping masks is to clip content such as a photo to a shape such as type. In order to do this, put the type layer under the photo layer on the Layers panel, target the type layer (by clicking in it in the Layers panel)  and select Layer > Create Clipping Mask.

You can also create a clipping mask using the following shortcuts:

• Select the layer to be clipped and use Command + Opt + G (Mac) | Control + Alt + G (Win) to create a Clipping Mask.

• On the Layers panel, hold the Option (Mac) | Alt (Win) key and position the cursor over the line that separates the two layers in the Layers panel. When you see the icon switch to a downward pointing arrow next to a rectangle, click to create a Clipping Mask.

5:18 AM Permalink
April 26, 2016

Paste Into a Selection in Photoshop

If you have an active selection in your document (marching ants) and have content on the clipboard, selecting Edit > Paste Special > Paste Into will paste the content from the clipboard onto a new layer  and automatically convert the selection into a Layer mask!

Command + Option + Shift + V (Mac) | Control + Alt + Shift + V (Win) is the shortcut for Paste Into.


Image with active selection.



Selection converted to a layer mask after choosing Edit > Paste Special > Paste Into.

5:07 AM Permalink
April 25, 2016

Targeting a Layer Mask in Photoshop

Command + \ (Mac), Control + \ (Win) targets a layer mask.

Command + 2 (Mac), Control + 2 (Win) targets the layer.

4:54 AM Permalink
April 22, 2016

Pasting into a Layer Mask in Photoshop

To paste content (from the clipboard) into a Layer mask, Option -click (Mac)/ Alt -click (Win) the Layer mask icon on the Layers panel. This shortcut does two things – it targets the mask as well as toggles off the visibility of the mask. Then, choose Edit > Paste to paste into the mask.

Note: if you don’t want to use the shortcut, you can paste into a layer mask by clicking on the mask in the Channels panel and toggling ON the visibility.  Choosing Edit > Paste will paste into the mask, displaying the mask as a red overlay.04_22chanelVis

To hide the red overlay, click the eye icon.04_22chanelHide04_22_toggleVis

5:17 AM Permalink
April 21, 2016

Unlinking Masks from Layers in Photoshop

Click on the link icon between the layer icon and the mask icon in the Layers panel to unlink the mask from the layer (allowing either to move independently of the other).

04_20_Link Maks

5:15 AM Permalink
April 20, 2016

Temporarily Disabling & Enabling Masks in Photoshop

Shift-click in the layer or vector mask thumbnail in the Layers panel to temporarily disable the mask.

Click again on the layer mask thumbnail in the Layers panel to enable it.

For a vector mask, you must shift -click the thumbnail again to enable it.

You can also Control-click (Mac) / Right mouse -click (Win) on either type of mask in the Layers panel and choose to Enable or Disable a mask.

4:54 AM Permalink
April 6, 2016

Double Check the Layer Mask in Photoshop

When working on intricately composited, multi-layered documents, I often find it useful to check each of the layer masks before finalizing the image. To do this, Option -click (Mac) / Alt -click (Win) on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel to display the mask in the image area. With the mask visible, check to see if there are any unwanted or awkward transitional areas that might not have been visible in the complex composite (a sharp edge from a selection or a small area unknowingly left unpainted, for example).

6:04 AM Permalink
March 15, 2016

Preview Adjustment Layer Changes in Photoshop

While making changes to an image using an adjustment layer, hold the “\” (backslash) key to toggle between the before state (when you started making changes) and the current state (the changes you’ve made).

5:25 AM Permalink
January 28, 2016

Unifying Images Through Color in Photoshop

When creating composite images, I am often trying to unify multiple elements that were photographed at different times, in different locations, under different light conditions. One of the techniques that I use to establish consistency throughout the disparate elements is to use one of the source images as a color overlay for the entire canvas. In this example, I wanted to use the color from the wings layer to unite the other elements (such as the overly saturated table).



First, I selected the wings layer, duplicated it, and repositioned it at the top of the layer stack.

First, I selected the wing layer, duplicated it and positioned it at the top of the layer stack.
To resize the layer, I selected Edit > Free Transform > Scale (so that it would cover the entire canvas).

To resize the layer, I selected Edit > Free Transform > Scale so that it would cover the entire canvas.
On the Layers panel, I changed the Layer’s blend mode to Color.



I selected Filter > Blur > Gaussian to remove detail, while still maintaining the color.



Then, I chose Edit > Free Transform, to flip the layer and reposition and resize the layer as needed.



Finally, I added a Layer Mask and used the Brush tool to paint with black to hide the color from areas such as the figure.


Note: If you want to use more than one layer as the source for your “color”, select the desired area (using the marquee tool or whatever tool works) and choose Edit > Copy Merged to copy the information to the clipboard. Then, choose Edit > Paste. Photoshop will create a new layer that you can reposition, resize, etc. as needed.

Before and after unifying eh composite using color.

Before and after unifying the composite using color.

For more information about compositing images in Photoshop, be sure to check out my two training courses on

Introduction to Compositing

The Art of Photoshop Compositing

5:26 AM Permalink
January 25, 2016

Copying Merged Layers (and Groups)

Command + Shift + C (Mac) | Control + Shift + C (Win) copies a merged version of all visible layers within the selection onto the clipboard.

Option + Command + Shift + E (Mac) | Alt + Control + Shift + E (Win) , pastes a merged copy (of all visible layers) on a new layer above the topmost currently selected layer.

5:35 AM Permalink
January 21, 2016

Selecting Layer Groups with the Move Tool in Photoshop

To automatically select Layer Groups (instead of individual layers), with the Move tool selected, check the Auto-Select box in the Options bar and choose Group from the pull-down menu.

4:18 PM Permalink
January 18, 2016

Deleting Layer Groups in Photoshop

To delete a Layer Group, select Layer > Delete > Group or, with the Layer  Group selected on the Layers panel, click the trash can icon. Either method displays a dialog with the options to delete the “Group and Contents” (which deletes both), “Group Only” (which removes any Layer  Groups but leaves the layers), or “Cancel”.

To delete the Layer Group and all of its contents while bypassing the dialog select the Layer Group on the Layers panel and either drag the Layer Group to the trashcan icon or, Option -click (Mac) | Alt -click (Win) the trashcan icon.

Command  -drag (Mac) | Control  -drag (Win) a Layer Group to the trashcan icon to delete a Layer Group without deleting its contents.

5:24 AM Permalink