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  • Masking is a process of creating Layer Masks in Photoshop so that only part of the image shows through to the final picture.
  • Masks can be edited and refined when the result isn't quite what you want.

Masking & Cutting Out

  • To make a Layer Mask out of a selection, create a Layer Mask while the Selection is active and it will be automatically applied to the mask.
  • Use Q to show quick mask or the backslash key /
  • You can select part of a mask while it is active to edit and change it, e.g. lasso tool and SHIFT adds or ALT removes.
  • Training - 01, 02, 03,
  • Select and Mask (New June 16) -
    and remove colour fringing and refine the edge in a composite,
  • Refine Edge -
  • Refining and showing a mask - 01,
  • Colour Picker To Define Colour Range -
    (Select one colour from skin, then and use the + selector to hold the mouse and drag a line over the skin to select the whole range of tones. Vary fuzziness to increase selection and smoothe. Click mask to create a mask with this selection)
  • Quick Mask - Use the smallest brush so that you never touch the background.
  • Content Aware Fill - and patch tool
  • Always add the background as soon as possible and do all your selecting and masking with it in place. This will prevent you making a mask which you think is OK, only to find out later that there is a colour fringe around the edge.This is especially important with hair, which is particularly prone to this.
  • If the edge of a mask is too sharp use the Blur Tool but unlink the Layer Mask from the image first. (Ref 12:00). Does this need doing whenever a Layer Mask is edited? ***

Viewing, Editing and Refining a Mask

  • To view a Layer Mask for editing, ALT + CLICK on the Mask Icon in the Layers Window, and do the same to close it.
  • You can edit this mask by painting on it with the Brush Tool using wither black or white.
  • You can select specific areas on the Layer Mask to Paint on using the normal Selection Tools.
  • You can use a new selection to limit where you can paint, and in this way add or subtract selected areas of the mask to refine a selection e.g. by selecting better hair detail to add where a person's body is already cut out well.
  • Similarly you can still paint on a Layer Mask when its icon is selected but its image is not in the main window. Here you will see the changes made to the mask reflected in your image.
  • To refine the edge of a mask see Refining Edges in Selections.


  • Look at the Properties Panel to feather the mask and adjust its density. Can also open Select and Mask from there, Colour Range and Invert.

Using Apply Image to Create a Mask

  • Apply Image can be used to stamp any layer onto a new layer. or onto a mask This can be very useful for creating very selective masks which use actual image pixels to create the mask, and so are very accurate.