Whenever you want to create a complicated composite and you don't want to damage any pixels in your image a layer mask is your best friend. Now we are gonna do something fun here. I'm going to show you that I have this image of a giraffe and of course once again I grabbed this from my Hummara photo clip art collection, you can probably find this at your favorite computer store or any photo clip art collection I'll do because these work great in Photoshop. And what we are gonna do in this exercise is I'm going to take this image of the giraffe and I'm gonna combine it and go ahead and hide the clouds with the guy here. But I want to show the clouds instead of the city so this guy is conversing with this giraffe that only he can see. So once again we are gonna have the giraffe, we are gonna have the clouds and we are gonna have the dude. But we are gonna make sure that we get rid of the city but keep the clouds. Now how in the world are we gonna do that? Well, first of all I'm gonna go on the clouds layer and I'm gonna click this icon right here and with this icon selected it adds a layer mask for me in my layer. Now the cool thing about this is when I paint with black I'm able to reveal things and when I paint with white I am able to put those things right back. So what I'm gonna do is press X on my keyboard and I'm gonna make sure that I have the black color in front. If you have any other colors here simply press D on the keyboard to bring your black and white to the foreground and background. And by the way if you paint with gray your gonna see partially through it so that's another option you might want to have for special effects you want to create. Now I am going to grab my brush tool and on this layer I am going to drop my opacity down so I can I'll see what I'm doing. Now I want to paint with the brush over this gentlemen here and I'm just gonna take my time and don't worry if you mess up don't forget you can paint with the other color which is white to replace anything that you erase. So, it's a good idea, actually I'll go a little further out on purpose like this, so I can show you how to fix that. So I'm gonna leave that the way it is and I'm gonna paint over the business dude and we're going to see what happens when I reveal the affects of the layer mask. So I'm gonna go a little faster here and just fill all of this in and if I miss anything not a problem I can always come back. But before we put this back to a hundred percent opacity I want to show you something, take a look at this uh mask here. It's gonna take a while to get there because um I'm working on a lower resolution but its gonna appear in just a moment, you're gonna see a silhouette that I just painted of this dude here. So once again it will get there in a moment but until it does let me go ahead and put the fill back, there it is, to a hundred percent. You see silhouette? The silhouette will reveal and the white will obscure, so the white area is obscuring the city where as the black will punch out the dude. So what I'm gonna do is hit X on the keyboard and paint with white now to get rid of some more of that city scene and get the clouds in here a little bit more clearly. And of course I can reduce the size of the brush to get a more precise painting but as you can see a layer mask has not affected the actual image itself and that is the true power and the beauty of using this technique. You are able to do some very complicated composites this way. Now how cool is that? Once again we have our giraffe, we have this layer with a layer mask applied to it and once again the black area is the cut out so we can see this layer beneath it and the white area is hiding this. So I'm gonna go ahead and hide uh the actual layer beneath so that you can see that we painted a mask to reveal the guy and hid the city. And when you combine the three you have a layer mask. And now that is a really cool effect that I think you guys will come to use quite a bit when you are doing your work in Photoshop. Because once again you have not actually damaged any pixels, I can always turn this layer mask off and on at any time and you can see I have my full pixels in my city. Once again if you want to hide things paint with black or rather paint with uh white to hide things or bring them back. It depends on what you're doing really, so there really is no right or wrong answer to that. It depends on what you're trying to do, if you're trying to reveal things or trying to hide things you have to determine whether you're gonna paint with black, you're gonna paint with white or you're gonna paint with gray. So in that case let me go ahead and show you what happens when you paint with gray. So I'm gonna click on the swatch here and I'm gonna choose a midtones color and I'm gonna go back to my layer mask and I'm gonna paint with a bigger brush to show you that I can get a little bit of, of a transparent feel and now I'm glad I did that actually because you'll notice something very important here. Look at the preview. You notice what happened, I painted on the actual pixels instead of the mask, make sure you click on the mask, so I'm gonna undo that, click on the mask itself and you know you have the right thing when you have this little border and now when I paint on the layer mask with my gray color, let me go back to gray, watch what happens. I'm able to bring back some of that image in a kind of see through kind of fashion. So I'm blending both of these layers together because I am not painting in pure white or black so once again you have a lot of options when it comes to using a layer mask. So definitely incorporate them into your workflow their very powerful and they give you the ability to do all these cool things without damaging your pixels. So I'm gonna click on the layer mask and drag it to the garbage can and I'm gonna delete it and there I go back to the way it was in the beginning, no pixels damaged at all in this image.
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