Get Creative With Layer Masks Using Photoshop Elements

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Layer Masks

If you’ve never used Layer masks in Photoshop before then you’ll be amazed at what they can do to help you with editing your photos. Layer masks are used for many tasks including: retouching, colour correction and sharpening to name a few.

Today I’m going to use a photo of some seagulls in flight over a digital frame, of course, you can use any photo. The idea is to make the seagulls appear to fly out of the frame with the help of Layer masks using Photoshop Elements.

First you’ll need to create a digital frame. You can do that by following the guide on one of my previous posts ”Create a Digital Frame With Photoshop Elements”.

Next you’ll need a suitable photo

Step 1

Open both your images (photo and digital frame). To see both images at once go to the top of the screen and click > Window > Images > float all in windows. You should now see both images on the screen.


Step 2

Click on the photo (in my case the seagulls) and press Ctrl-A to put a selection around it then Ctrl-C to copy the photo. Now switch to the digital frame and press Ctrl-V. This will paste the photo on top of the digital frame on a separate layer.

Step 3

You can now close the original photo. You are now left with only the document with two layers.

step 4

To change the floating layer back to a tile form (better to work with!) at the top of the screen click >window > images > tile.

Step 5

Now you need to hide the top layer by clicking on the eye icon to the left of it in the layers palette. 


Step 6

The screen now looks like this:

Step 7

Click on the background layer in the layers palette and select the Rectangular Marquee tool by pressing ‘M’. Make a selection just inside the digital frame (here, it’s the rectangular inner square).

Step 8

Reveal the photo by clicking on where the eye icon was. The rectangular square I drew is revealed again. I want to keep the portion of the photo that’s inside the rectangle and reveal some of the other parts that are not.

Step 9

Click on the add layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette (second icon from the left). You should see the rectangular area of the photo that was previously selected (below).

Step 10

Now we’re going to get more flexibility and control by using the brush tool to reveal other parts of the photo.

Clickto select the brush tool, choose a small soft edged brush. Set your foreground colour to white by pressing X. (I’m assuming that your foreground colour was black to start with, if it wasn’t just press D first and then ).

Now start painting over the areas you want to reveal, if you make a mistake and reveal too much just press X to set your foreground colour to black and paint over the mistake.


In the finished article below I’ve added a little colour using the paintbrush tool.



Here’s some More Ideas: