Image editing made non-destructible!
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.
Types 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 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.
Very similar to layer masks but clipping masks stack two layers on top of each other and utilize just one layer at the bottom to determine the transparency of another at the top. While you use monochrome masks in layer masking, clipping masks borrow transparency from the bottom layer and use it to make it transparent, like if your bottom layer has opaque or transparent areas, a clipping mask would apply these features on the top layer.
An image mask is also a form of masking that is more of an advanced clipping mask technique as it works in a similar manner but the method is more adapted for images that may have gaps that can’t be clipped individually. That is why it is mainly used for hair or fur masking when intricate and detailed work needs to be performed to crop or completely remove an object from the background.
To sum up, Photoshop has two primary categories of masking that is layer and clipping masks. However, you might learn the techniques over time and master the art of performing both of them and many other editing features too, but remember don’t rush it because just as the little details that your brush strokes create to give depth and definition to the painting, digital arts and crafts also has its fair share of minute details that you may require to learn with time so keep practicing and don’t underestimate the fact that digital art and editing will be easy. In fact, people would appreciate your painting even if you leave the canvas spotted with a single color and call it abstract but the technicalities involved in digital art and graphic designing is constantly upgrading and you may want to make your hand firm on that to