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A super advanced pro at Photoshop would have years of experiences, formal training, and certifications but these are not the only differences between a beginner and a pro. A pro would most definitely have a final hand at masking. So for all the beginners out there, let’s learn what is masking…

What is a Mask?

No, we are not talking about the green guy that came into your mind when I said ‘Mask’… It’s true that the term ‘mask’ isn’t immediately understood by people who don’t belong to the field of graphic designing. Mask is basically a way of application of something to a very particular and specific portion of an image.

Image MaskingTypes of Masks

There are two key types of masks: clipping masks and layer masks, very closely related in the basis of concepts but different in application.

Layer Masks

Layer masks are what generally people have in mind when discussing Photoshop masking. Layers were probably one of the best and important addition to Photoshop since the first original version, but layer masks are now relatively of close importance. These masks have become the ultimate power of Photoshop usage.

A layer mask is what you apply to a given layer to control the transparency of it. It gives you precise controls over very specific areas like if you want the left side of the layer to be at 30%, you would use a mask.

When a mask is added to a layer, the entire thing is covered with an invisible gray-scale canvas. On this canvas, you can paint all monochromatic colors you can come with from black to white and the 50 shades of gray in between – pun not intended. But coming to the point, the color that you paint tell Photoshop the level of opacity in your pixels you might want, like for e.g. White means 100% opaque where as black means 0% opacity.

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