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masking

Community Beginner ,
Dec 28, 2020 Dec 28, 2020

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For the last time... I have SO had it up to hear [picture me with my hand up above my head] with mask layers. I can understand everything about layers, but to make a mask layer??? It is simply WAY beyond anything I have ever experienced, in that it is the most unstable, unusable, and most illogical process I have ever seen in post processing. For those folks who can make masks work for you, then may the gods bless you and keep you busy with that. I only see it as a product of an insane software developer who whole intention was to create the equivalent of a 120 word crossword with one word clues written in Latin.
I just cant see myself every understanding a process that brings me to the very edge of understanding more times than I can remember, only to suddenly have me plunge back into ZERO function.
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Engaged ,
Dec 28, 2020 Dec 28, 2020

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🤣🤣🤣 hilarious post. I think of a mask like erasing out part of the picture but its not actually erased only hidden so you can bring it back. And instead of simply painting out part of the picture u can use a specific shape as a mask. And you can also invert the mask so the shape can either hide or show the portion of the picture within it. (That would be called a clipping mask) They really are magical. 😌🤣

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 28, 2020 Dec 28, 2020

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Hi @Draco55 

Let's say you have a photo that's been printed and a stencil of an apple or a flower or the number 5. You set the stencil on top of the photo and all you can see of the photo is what is in the part of the stencil that has been cut out. That's a mask.

818A7386-3C4C-41BF-9B4E-DC20E30E048A.jpeg

 

If you wanted to re-cut the stencil (aka mask) or make a new one, you could use an Exacto knife.

 

In Photoshop, Layer Masks are more flexible, but the idea is the same. You can get a decent start by making a selection first, then create a layer mask, but it's not required. Then if it's not perfect, you paint on the mask with pure black and pure white to hide or show the image.

 

The other option is to delete what you don't want from the image. That's called destructive editing and is not recommended. Using a mask means you keep the entire image and just edit the mask (aka stencil) to show only the part of the image you want to.

 

When I started using PS, it didn't have Layer Masks. Now I can't imagine working without them.

 

~ Jane

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 28, 2020 Dec 28, 2020

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Jane, I totally understand what you are saying. And  I have  many times, actually got to the step in the  process where I can remove sections of  the  photo with the  brush tool as  you explained. But when I attempt tomerge all the  layers... it simply goes  back to the original photo. I have tried  this  process on 4 different computers, 3 versions of  photoshop,  a  number  of  teachers, in fact so many I dont remember; and  I get the  same  result.

The  inescapable fact is, that people  like  myself  are NEVER going to understand this  process through to completion. So my post is  simply to state; yes PS  is a  wonderful tool, but for  people  like  myself, and  there  are others  out there who have  said  the  same thing, it will never  work for  us, and  the  only option is  to move  on as  if  masks  are simply not an option. Thank you again, and  thank you Ro, for  your  willingness to help me, but that fact remains, their  are people out there who will just NEVER get the  connection bewteen process and  final result.

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Engaged ,
Dec 28, 2020 Dec 28, 2020

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Well if you ever feel you like to try it once more... when you have a mask you have made on an image... right click the mask layer and select 'apply layer mask'... now the mask is gone and the image is changed. Be careful merging ALL layers. Keep a copy layer of the original full image on a layer but hide it and lock it and instead select 'merge visible'

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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Hi Draco55!

 

We are not giving up on helping you, please don't give up on yourself! You can do this. We just need to figure out where the breakdown is. I have taught layers for over 20 years and we never leave a fellow Photoshopper behind!

 

I have a question for you--what is the step that you use to merge your layers? After you've used your layer mask, what do you do?

 

Michelle

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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ok Michelle, and everyone  else, first I must apologize for  not being clear. I am using Photoshop Elements 12, not full photoshop.

Today [tuesday] I was  told the folowing by a source  that I consider  fairly reliable, that PSE has a   deliberately not revealed processes in the  masking option, in  that is  designed to make  it impossible to successfully use  masking in PSE. And  the  sole  purpose  is  to force users to buy into the  monthly plan for  the  complete Photoshop. I was told  that only software  developers or  pro artists know  how  to fill in the  missing steps in PSE, and  that have  access to same  becasue  they have  the  full Photoshop.

I am not saying that is  is  completely true, but it sure  as  hell would  explain WHY I have  had  ZERO success. To try and  explain what my steps  are is  not easy. I will offer  this. I open an image, I duplicate  it, then I click on the  mask symbol to create a  layer mask. Now I select a  brush. Then I select, black or  a reduced opacity, and  start using the brush to remove  what I want. AT THIS  MOMENT, I have  sucessfully removed  or  reduced the  opacity of  the  area I have  "brushed".

Finally when I use  merge visible, merge  down, or  flatten all layers, in the  hundreds of  times I have tried  this , I have  gone  back to nothing other  than the original image. I have  tried  making selections and  imposing another  photo into the masked  out selection... NOTHING... no result.

NOW  before  anyone  says  it is my computer  or the current software, let me  say that this  same  result has  happened with PSE11, and  PSE 12, on 3 different computers over  the  last 8 years.

I am still NO further  ahead  in this  process than I was  8 years  ago. Can  you  understand why I am believing what I was  told  this  morning??? If  anyone can convince  me  that I am not right in believe what I was  told... I welcome  your opinion.

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Engaged ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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Draco55!😂 You have to apply the mask. I dont think you can just merge all layers. Remember right click the mask ... apply mask.... OR drag mask to trash can and it will ask do you want to apply the mask.... 🤔

 

And remember to hide the copy of the original image underneath or you cannot see the mask results.

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Engaged ,
Dec 28, 2020 Dec 28, 2020

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I would also add, don't use them on a background layer (background layers are locked and a mask will show through to whatever is set as the background colour). (Double click the background layer and hit OK which will make it a regular free layer).

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 28, 2020 Dec 28, 2020

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I appreciate  your  feedback Ro, but I have  to conclude  that given that I have  read every guide, talked to many others  and  STILL have  not been able  to successfully achieve the  goal, that this  process is subject to  missing steps  if you are not a  professional graphic  artist. This  keeps  competition from amateurs saturating the  market and  keeps  the  professionals viable  and  employed

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Engaged ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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Draco55 Noooo! Don't throw in the towel yet!  😂😂

Trust me once you get it you won't forget it. You know maybe you have trouble fully understanding layers themselves? 🤔

Have a look at these screen shots to see how the basics work.

Open an image in photoshop it will open as a background layer. Here's some juicy apples.

MaskScreen-1.gif

 

MaskScreen-2.gif

 

MaskScreen-3.gif

 

MaskScreen-4.gif

 

MaskScreen-5.gif

 

MaskScreen-6.gif

 

MaskScreen-7.gif

 Now you have one single apple so it is always a good idea to keep a copy of the original image on another layer that is locked and hidden, or to keep it saved as another file, because it is now gone from this one. 8) 😂

MaskScreen-8.gif

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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Draco55 wrote:

 

“…this  process is subject to  missing steps  if you are not a  professional graphic  artist. This  keeps  competition from amateurs saturating the  market and  keeps  the  professionals viable  and  employed”

 

No, no, now you’re going out on a limb and need to pull back from wild theories about amateurs being suppressed. If you have really “read every guide, talked to many others” as you said, then undoubtedly you have been listening to at least some other amateurs who are perfectly comfortable with the process.

 

No one is holding back information, because there is so much out there. There are thousands of amateur blog posts and YouTube videos about this. Photoshop is so popular partly because there is more freely accessible information about it than for any other photo editor.

 

Stick with it, and like the others are saying, don’t give up. You can do this. And here is a core point: Masking is fundamental to image editing in general. This cannot be some Photoshop conspiracy, because the same masking techniques are used in many other non-Adobe photo editing applications, and still would be even if Photoshop disappeared from the earth.

 

Once you master the basics of masking, you will be able to transfer those skills to other photo editors and applications, including video and 3D editors. It is an extremely valuable set of skills to pick up whether or not you are using Photoshop.

 

What do you mean it “goes back to the original photo” when you try the last steps? Does that mean the removed background comes back, the removed background becomes solid white, or something else?

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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what I am saying Conrad, is that the area I have  masked  out when I merge, is  no longer there. I end  up with the  image  as  it was  before  I started doing anything. That is  what I do not understand and  why after  all this  time  I am inclined  to believe what I was told

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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OK, I understand now from your other reply that this is not really about Photoshop, but about Photoshop Elements. Yes, Photoshop Elements does not have as many features as Photoshop, that’s why it’s so affordable. But that’s also why our answers are not helpful, because our answers aren’t for Photoshop Elements. If there is a way to do it in Photoshop Elements, you might find out in the Photoshop Elements forum on this same website.

 

If you require more features for tasks such as masking, and you don’t want to pay for a full Photoshop subscription, there are a couple of options:

  • Try the Elements+ add-on. It reveals/unlocks some of the Photoshop features that are hidden in Elements, including some masking features. However, that still might not make it work exactly like full Photoshop, I’m not sure because I haven’t tried Elements+.
  • Try other applications such as Affinity Photo (inexpensive, non-subscription) or GIMP (free). Those applications, and others, have masking features that are similar to what you get in full Photoshop. The disadvantage is that they don’t work exactly like Photoshop, so they won’t match up exactly with Photoshop tutorials.

 

Basically, you have to decide whether it’s more important to have full masking features for cheap/free, or more important to learn masking specifically in Photoshop. If you want to learn and use standard masking techniques for cheap/free, use an affordable alternative instead of Photoshop. If you want to learn how it works in the full version of Photoshop, you will have to pay for the full version of Photoshop.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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what you just said  Conrad, confirmed what I was told. That adobe  is  forcing users to buy into monthly premiums to be  able to effectly use masking. To do this, adobe  insists  that Elements can perform masking functions, but in reality it cannot. Thank you for  confirming this  marketing strategy which is  no less  than deceptive  false advertising and  product description.

Now  I can give  up on masking with a free and  clear mond, now  that I know  it is  typical adobe  deception.

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Engaged ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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Draco55! Are you using Elements? 

 

This article says you can use masking in 'expert mode' ...🤔  

 

https://www.dummies.com/photography/photo-software/adobe-photoshop-elements/layer-masks-in-photoshop...

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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thank you Ro, yes  I am using elements, and  I have  looked  at that article  and  could  not get any results.

lets  all  agree  and  conclude  that I am incapable of  understanding the  process, even if  it is  not a  software/program level issue.

I appreciate  you help, all of  you, but is  time  for  me  to just let it go and  move  on.

 

Kind  regards

Ian

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Engaged ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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I dont believe you Draco55! I wont!

Did you read the part where it said once you have created your mask you drag it onto the trash can icon and then it asks you to apply the mask? And you select yes? DO it Draco! 😂

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 30, 2020 Dec 30, 2020

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Conrad,

You mentioned being unfamiliar with Photoshop Elements and what differences there might be in the programs.  FYI, let me share that I used it briefly, and a Photoshop pro was trying to help me with it.  He and I discovered that key vocabulary was different and that many processes were carried out using different commands accessed from disimilar locations.  As you alluded to, some popular Photoshop techniques were completely missing in Elements.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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Hi

I have moved your post (and the answers) to the Photoshop Elements forum where you are more likely to get answers, and supporting screenshots, directly relevant to your version (Elements 12)

 

Dave

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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Masks are quite simple.

Where the mask is white - the pixels on the associated layer are visible. 

Where the mask is black the pixels on the associated layer are transparent and the layer(s) underneath become visible.

If between black and white (i.e. gray) then the pixels on the associated layer become semitransparent.

That is it ... nothing technical .. nothing magical.

 

The screenshot below is Photoshop - but as mentioned early, most image editors work the same way

 

2020-12-29_23-17-10.jpg

 

 

Dave

 

 

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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Hi Draco,

 

Bless your heart.  Like all complex, powerful software programs, Photoshop is a never ending learning process.  I understand your frustration because I've been there (with multiple of the program's features.)  I had to make a concerted effort--researching how to use masks and taking pages of notes--not once, but three times over a 3-year period(!), before I finally nailed down all the steps and was able to use masks to accomplish a handful of tasks.  And I still have to refer to my notes from time to time because there are so many ways to use different kinds of masks.  It is a broad, labyrinth of a subject that almost guarantees frustration (or should I say "desperation?")  😉

 

My point is that you're in good company in your struggles and you don't have to be a genious or a pro to eventually figure this out.  It is okay, even advisable, to give the whole darn subject a rest, fall back on your eraser tool and the techniques you understand to accomplish what a mask would do, and "live" to have another go down the road at mastering masks.  Hopefully the great folks who are posting here will help you make the breakthrough, but if not this time, I have no doubt the day will come for you!  

 

My point is that you're in good company in your struggles and you don't have to be a genious or a pro to eventually figure this out.  It is okay, even advisable, to give the whole darn subject a rest, fall back on your eraser tool and the techniques you understand to accomplish what a mask would do, and "live" to have another go down the road at mastering masks.  Hopefully the great folks who are posting here will help you make the breakthrough, but if not this time, I have no doubt the day will come for you!  

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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I have read through this entire thread and can say that there is not a single technique or tool that has been shown to @Draco55 that is not available in Photoshop Elements.  As far as masking goes, you don't even need an add-on like Elements+.  So, I will not agree with his conspiracy theories.  But like the other fine members of this community above, I refuse to give up on a teaching moment.  So here goes:

 

@Draco55 said:

I open an image, I duplicate it, then I click on the mask symbol to create a layer mask. Now I select a brush. Then I select, black or a reduced opacity, and start using the brush to remove what I want. AT THIS MOMENT, I have sucessfully removed or reduced the opacity of the area I have "brushed".

Finally when I use merge visible, merge down, or flatten all layers, in the hundreds of times I have tried this , I have gone back to nothing other than the original image.

 

If this is an accurate description of what you are doing, I think I can explain your error.  Consider layers to be acetate transparencies as demonstrated in this Adobe Help article.  You have created two layers with the same content.  If you cut a hole in the top layer, the identical bottom layer will show through.  When you merge them, they will be just one layer showing the image you started off with.  I have asked you in your other thread (to which I responded before seeing this thread) what effect you are trying to establish.  When we get a clear answer to that question, we will be able to help you get all of these difficulties behind you.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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I really hate to admit the  following.... but I will.

First of all let me  use  the  analogy of the  stone  arch bridge. If you dont have  a  key stone  fitted properly the  bridge  will always  collapse.

Same  applies here. I have  heard  som really wild  stories from sources I hesitate to trust, and  I have  read  some  very logical and undeniable examples from all you guys  here on this  forum.

let me  go back to the  "stone bridge". I have  been thinking about what everyone  has  been saying and a 'light bulb ' did come  on. For  a  moment I sat there  and  was  dumfounded  at how  after  all this  time, I have  always  missed  the  one  constant that I have  always ignored. 

HIDE  the  layers  except the  masked  layer and  merge ONLY the  masked  layer.

My stupidity is  as  embarrassing as  it is obvious.

Now to see  if  the  correct "keystone" works.

If  it does... you will hear  about it.... if  it does not...well you will all still hear about it.

Place you bets  everyone.... here goes a frikking revelation... or  nothing... we  will see.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2020 Dec 29, 2020

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Greg, your diagnosis of the problem sounds spot on to me.  It is so simple!  But it took your careful visualization of Draco's steps to reveal what the rest of us flew by and missed.  Bravo. 👏

 

Unfortunately, Draco reached his frustration limit and "left the building."  Completely understandable after 8 years, albeit tragically ill-timed.  😩   He clearly posted out of a need to vent, and didn't mean to attract the attention of a flock of people hell-bent on helping him. 😳  Hopefully he will get curious, come back to take a peek, and see that you have solved the crux of his puzzle, or what we might call The Mystery of the Missing Mask. 🧐

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