Quick Tip | How can I see exactly what I have masked? Layer Mask Question Answered

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Quick Tip | How can I see exactly what I have masked? Layer Mask Question Answered

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Today’s Quick Tip is about Layer Masking.  If you are looking to learn about layer masks and how to do masking in Photoshop, check my video tutorials in my archives on layer masking.  I did a 2 part tutorial on how to use layer masks.  This quick tip will be very helpful to you coming up – I have a two part video tutorial COMING SOON on how to make skies look blue and grass to look green (not yellow).  Stay Tuned!

Question: Now that I am using Layer Masks, thanks to your tutorials, I am wondering how I can better see exactly what I masked?

Answer: You can do this a few ways.  See screen shots below:

 The first screen shot is showing the small layer mask.  It is very hard to tell anything from this other than comparing relationships of what is painted in black to conceal in relation to the photo.


In this screen shot below, you can see exactly what we saw on the small thumbnail, but now it is directly over your photo.  You do this by holding down your ALT or Option Key and clicking once on the mask.  This is a little helpful for a sneak peak, but is not too useful in continuing to mask.


 The last screen shot is my preference for when I want a better idea of what I have masked and if I have any spillage onto other areas.  To do this, click on the key that has the backslash and straight line ( and |).  This will add a green or red mask by default.  This can be changed.  Double click on the mask if you want to change the color of the mask (this is no way effects your actual photo – it is preference).  By default it is at 50%.  You can increase or decrease that number too.

The reason this way is so amazing is that you can continue painting on your mask and watch the changes in one of these bright colors.  So let’s assume I wanted to mask her skin off (that is the green here – as the black is concealing an effect) – I would see her hair is starting to be concealed from the effect too.  So I would use a white brush on that part of her hair that is masked in green.  Once I paint on it, it would look like hair again.  The end result would be her face and hand look like “Shrek.”

 Once I knew that I masked exactly what I wanted, I would click on the same keyboard key again and would see my photo without that green (or whatever color I chose).

I do not use this every time I mask, but when I have harder selections or subtle changes I am masking, it can be invaluable.


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  1. Pam
    May 21, 2008 at 5:48 pm —

    This is amazing, especially for someone who’s fairly new at PS. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. brock
    May 21, 2008 at 4:11 am —

    I am so glad to find a site that explains photoshop….Thank you

  3. May 3, 2008 at 5:10 pm —

    Thank you Jodi!!!

  4. Missy
    May 1, 2008 at 9:52 pm —

    I never knew how to do this either! Thanks!

  5. May 1, 2008 at 12:25 pm —

    Thanks Jodi, you always explain things so wonderfully.

  6. April 28, 2008 at 1:44 am —

    Great Job you’ve done!

  7. Johanna
    April 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm —

    really useful lesson! thanks!

  8. April 24, 2008 at 5:34 pm —

    WOW!!! You rock!!! Thanks for all the tips and tricks..I tell everyone that HAVE to check out your blog!

  9. Beth
    April 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm —

    I have to thank you for all the great tips. I have been coming here for about 3 weeks and have learned SO much from you at times my head starts to spin (but in a good way) Thank you for taking time out of your personal life to make ours a little easier. 🙂

  10. Teresa
    April 24, 2008 at 12:13 pm —

    What a great tip! Thanks Jodi! I always wondered if there was a way to do this.

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Quick Tip | How can I see exactly what I have masked? Layer Mask Question Answered