Effective Methods to Use Layer Mask in Photoshop

You might have come across pictures in which the person’s face is looking good – but other elements like background, clothing, or some part of the frame are taking away the overall charm of the picture. Hence, photo editors use a Layer Mask tool in Photoshop that hides or eliminates the portion of the picture to make it look likable.

In this article, you’ll gain knowledge about what is layer mask in Photoshop. When should you consider utilizing this tool? Tips to master layer masking in Photoshop and much more. So let’s begin!

What is Layer Mask in Photoshop? 

learn photo editing basics

Defining Layer Mask is quite easy. Split the term ‘Layer’ and ‘Mask.’ Layers in Photoshop are just like a sheet stack containing image data to perform advanced photo editing tasks. In contrast, as the name suggests, masking, on the other hand, is hiding some properties of the selected layer.

Another essential factor you need to know when implementing and learning Layer Masks is that white paint reveals, black conceals, and grey is used to adjust the opacity level.

When or Why use Layer Masking Tool in Photoshop?

A layer, group, or Adjustment Layer’s visibility is controlled via layer masks. The layer is entirely visible when the layer mask is completely white. The image layer is totally invisible when the color of the layer mask is black.

By painting black in particular places of a layer, you can make sections of it invisible. On a layer mask, you can utilize most of the tools in the panel, such as Gradient Tool, Brush Tool, and the Clone Stamp tool.

For example, if you draw a selection around the object and load it as a layer mask, only the subject will be visible, while the background will be hidden behind the mask.

Artists and designers can use photo masking to create modifications that can be quickly undone without having to undo actions one by one. Transparency gradients can also be created with layer masks.

Easy Methods to Create Layer Mask in Photoshop

Even if you’re a beginner creating layer masking in Photoshop is easy. You can follow the steps mentioned to create a layer mask for your desired photos.

Step:1Create aNewLayer

Creating a fresh layer for masking is the first step you need to follow. To do that, hover towards the ‘add layer’ button in photoshop’s layers panel. You can even use the keyboard shortcut button Shift+Ctrl+N for adding new layers. Once done, add the image you want to modify.

Step:2Adding Layer Mask

In the Layers panel, select a layer and then click the ‘Add layer mask’ button situated at the bottom. A white layer mask thumbnail will emerge on the selected layer, which displays every content present on the layer.

Step:3Conceal the Area

To make the layer mask thumbnail your active layer, select it in the layers panel. Make black your foreground color with the brush tool. Overpaint any areas of the image with a brush tool that you want to hide or conceal. A defined edge brush will produce a strong line between your opaque and translucent objects, while a soft edge brush will generate a fade effect.

Step:4Reveal the Area

Select the brush tool and make the foreground color white. Using the brush tool, paint any sections of the photo that you want to make visible or show. The entire layer will be white when you make the layer mask for the first time.

Step:5Grey for blending

Now, using the brush tool, select a shade of gray as the foreground color. Using the brush tool for painting the layer’s region where you want partially faded or visible. More darker or dense the color of gray, the more transparent area of the photo will be.

That’s it. Applying Layer Mask is that simple. For any new editing or future addition, save the masked layer file in .tiff or .psd format to retain the properties of edited layers.

Here are some quick shortcuts that will help you in the process of Layer Mask in Photoshop:






What is Chain Link?

You might also be questioning what that chain-like symbol between the layer and layer mask thumbnail is all about. To understand this chain-link means that if you move the layer image on the canvas, the layer mask property will also follow.

This can be a very effective feature; when you carefully cut out an image’s background and need to relocate it on a particular canvas. Otherwise, you may be trying to find the best part of a pattern to “let through” with a layer mask. In this case, you should restrict the chain-link; to do that, click the chain-link symbol, and the feature will be disabled.

How to Delete the Layer Mask?

If you want to delete a layer mask permanently, you can do so as well. Simply click and hold your layer mask, drag it to the bottom of your layers palette until it moves over your trash can, and release the mouse. This works in the same way that deleting a layer does.

You must ensure that you are clicking on the layer mask thumbnail rather than the layer thumbnail. Thus if you delete the layer, it would result in both the layer getting deleted completely, including the mask.


Now that you know what image masking is, it’s time to try your hands for the same. You might face difficulty in the masking process; however, you’ll learn with continuous practice.

professional photo masking services

I am Sumul Padharia, a BDE by profession at IIPVAPI - world leader in photo editing services. I am also a photographer by passion and a cricketer by heart, but my first love is delivering client success through premium grade image editing services. In my free time, you can find me honing my aim in front of a dart board.
4.7 Star App Store Review!
The Communities are great you rarely see anyone get in to an argument :)
Love Love LOVE

Select Collections