Warm-Up – Adobe Photoshop


In the opening Welcome Project, we created a mask to isolate a bird so we could convincingly put it into another photo. If you need a review, see “Lesson F: Selections & Masking” (page 21).

In this chapter, the lessons will be a little more abstract, so I think a warm-up exercise would be helpful.

  • Open a document from chapter 2: “B Photo Filter.psd.”

If you saved it with its adjustment layer in place, I’d like you to look at that adjustment layer’s thumbnails. It has two. If you haven’t done so yet, right-click on the first of those thumbnails and choose Large Thumbnails so you can see what you’re doing. An additional benefit of larger thumbnails is that you can tell what kind of adjustment layer you’ve got in front of you.

  • Click on the adjustment layer’s second thumbnail, the one for its mask.

That’s right, adjustment layers are born with masks so that you can quickly hide the adjustment where you may not wish to see it. Well, it’s quick when you know how.

  • Once the mask is targeted (it’ll have a small frame around its thumbnail in the Layers panel), press the D key (as in “default”) on your keyboard to ensure you’ve got the default colors of white for the Foreground color and black for the Background color (note their chips near the bottom of the Tools panel). Keep looking at those chips as you…
  • Press the X key (as in “eXchange”) to swap those colors, making black the Foreground color, the one with which you’re about to paint. You could also have clicked the small two-headed arrow near those color chips.
  • One more letter: press the B key (as in “Brush”) to quickly select the Brush tool. Note that it’s selected in the Tools panel now.

I wrote “One more letter,” but I didn’t mean you were done with the keyboard just yet. Move your cursor over the image—the sky would be best. Can you see that it’s a circle? That’s the size of the brush. Its size can be seen and changed in the Options Bar (near the left end). It’s faster, however, to use the left and right bracket keys ([ and ], next to P) on your keyboard to change the size: the left bracket for smaller, the right bracket for larger.

  • Make the brush about 150 pixels across (about the size of the skull on the left side of the image). You’re finally ready.
  • Drag a paint stroke across the sky. You’re painting with black, but it’s on the mask. This means you’re hiding that part of the active layer—in this case, an adjustment. The original, rather vibrant sky color becomes apparent again.

Imagine painting with smaller and smaller brushes to get into crevices to hide the adjustment exactly where you want to. Pressing X again and painting with white shows the layer again. In the following lessons, we’re going to create adjustment layers that will be masked to the areas we want at their creation. Some brush work may be useful, but maybe not necessary.