This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Why you should use layer masks, instead of the eraser tool, in Photoshop

When you are combining images in Adobe Photoshop, for example bringing a person into a different background, it is necessary to remove the existing background. But don't use the eraser tool! The reason to avoid the eraser is tool is because if you do, there is no going back and getting those pixels that you have erased. Sure, you might say, I can use "undo" or "history"! Yes, but only while you have the file open.

If you submit the image to a client and find later that either you have made a mistake, or that they would like to make a change, that is when you are going to regret using the eraser tool. So don't do it! Instead use a layer mask. That way you can "mask" pixels, that is, make them invisible, but you aren't permanently deleting them. If you find out later than you have masked a portion of the image (which gives the appearance of being erased), you can unmask that area and the pixels are still there! This is a real life-saver.

To work with a layer mask, you must already be familiar with working with layers. In the Layers palette, select the layer that you want to mask. In the example, I am inserting a figure into a background of New York, so the layer mask goes on the figure. Click on the layer mask icon (as shown), and a mask will be created. With the brush tool, select black to mask, that is, "erase" the pixels and reveal the layer below. If you make a mistake, choose white to "restore" the pixels. Save the file as a .psd with layers and you can go back and do this again even after you have saved and closed the file.

If you would like to get personal on-site software training in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or Dreamweaver in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, please contact me. Yes, I will also do a training session on setting up your blog on Google Blogger. Paypal accepted, morning appointments only.

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