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Do Not Fear the Layer Mask (Part Five): A Deeper Look Into Layer Masks
by Matt Kloskowski

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Step 13: Let's Bring in a Photo for the Background

We're almost done. One thing we'll want to do is bring in a photo for the background of the webpage. So, open another photo. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and make a large rectangular selection. Then click the Select menu and choose Modify>Smooth. Enter 20 pixels for the Sample Radius, and click OK.

Step 14: Copy-and-Paste the Background Photo into Our Webpage Image. Add a White Stroke

Copy-and-paste the selection into our main webpage image by pressing Command-C (PC: Ctrl-C), switching to the webpage image, and pressing Command-V (PC: Ctrl-V). Choose Edit>Free Transform to resize it and position it toward the top middle of the image. Then Command-click (PC: Ctrl-click) on the layer thumbnail to put a selection around the photo. Click the Edit menu and choose Stroke. Enter 6 pixels for the Width and set the Color to white. Click OK, and now you'll have a white stroke around the selection. Press Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D) to Deselect.

Step 15: Make a Selection Around the Entire LCD Monitor

You'll notice that the large photo we just copied in covers the LCD and the skier. We've got to change that. So, guess what that means. Yep, another mask. This time, instead of selecting just the inside of the LCD screen, we've got to select the whole LCD monitor itself. Click on the Eye icon next to the snowy mountain photo layer to hide it. Grab the Polygonal Lasso tool again and make a selection around most of the monitor. It's okay if you don't select the bottom part, but make sure you get the whole screen and some of the stand. Once you've made the selection, unhide the layer.

Step 16: Add a Layer Mask to the Large Photo Layer and Invert it

Since we have a selection active, go ahead and add a layer mask to the mountain photo layer. This masks the photo so it fits into the selection, which is actually the opposite of what we want. We want to see the photo everywhere but over the LCD. Well, that leads me to another cool tip -- inverting. Click on the layer mask and choose Image>Adjustments>Invert. This inverts, or reverses, the color of everything on a layer. Black becomes white and white becomes black.

TIP To avoid going to the Image menu for Invert all the time, just press Command-I (PC: Ctrl-I) instead.

Step 17: Move the Mountain Layer Below the Skier. Bring in the Final Elements

Now, click on the mountain photo layer and drag it below the skier layers so she doesn't cover the photo. Now add the final elements that make up the webpage. Here, they're pieces in another file, but you could just as easily create the text right here in the document itself.

(Excerpted from Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop's Most Powerful Feature by Matt Kloskowski. Copyright 2008. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.)

To view other tutorials in this series beginning with the first, visit$4588.

All photos by Matt Kloskowski