When I first started using Photoshop I was mainly interested in learning how to apply filters to my images. I wanted to change the image drastically through photo editing with very little effort and or skill. It’s easy to be satisfied with the default filters. Nevertheless, once you learn the ropes with masks, filters and blending modes the editing options open up tremendously. Check out the following video tutorials to learn key skills that will help the average novice expand their Photoshop knowledge. This will allow the editor to act purposefully, instead of hoping for a happy accident.
Today’s topic covers three of my favorite Adobe Photoshop CS4 basic layer treatments. We will see why it can be dangerous and destructive to use the eraser tool, and learn how to use layer masks to hide parts of an image instead. Then we will learn when to use a clipping mask instead of a layer mask. Once you have a handle on masks we will begin to learn how the Filter Gallery works. Filters can be fun and add that something extra our images need. Use filters with caution because it is easy to go overboard on these. Once Filters have been introduced we will learn about blending modes and how to modify filters this way to create a brand new look. These six tutorials will help you figure out how layer masks, filters and blending modes work. The next step is to use some of your own layers and learn by doing.
Let’s begin by exploring an important question, “What is a layer?” Tyler Olsen is going to give us the scoop.
Photoshop CS4 Tutorial: Understanding Layers (Beginner)
Sweet I’m glad we all know what I mean by “layer,” because this lesson is all about layers and what to do with them. Eventually it will be important to learn more tools, but for now lets learn how Photoshop works. When we do this we can learn what to do, and what not to do. The next tutorial introducing the importance of using layer masks.
Photoshop: Don’t Erase! Mask Instead! | Iceflow Studios
The Moral of this lesson is avoid using the eraser tool. Additionally, always copy your background layer and use a layer mask on the copy when selectively editing pixel visibility on a given layer. Now that you have learned how to apply layer masks there are no excuses for: (a) deleting data or (b) using destructive editing tools like the eraser tool. In the next video tutorial learn why you might want to use a clipping mask instead of a layer mask.
Photoshop: Clipping masks vs Layer masks | Iceflow Studios
Personally I would use Illustrator to do this kind of type effect because Photoshop is not the best program to edit type with. However, if you wanted to create an image within the constraints of lettering (like in the video above) a clipping mask is a good way to achieve this effect. Masking is helpful in advanced photo edits, especially when we get into filters. Filters became a lot easier when the Filter Gallery was designed.
Photoshop Tutorial: The Filter Gallery
Who doesn’t love the Filter Gallery? Now don’t get me wrong, there are more filters other than these to use, but these are the main preset filter settings. Each filter can be viewed on a layer and editing modes can be altered when each layer is selected. A new filter layer can be added so that multiple filters can be viewed at once to create a brand new effect. When you select the layers and visibility of each filter layer that you like the best, make sure you are sure before you click “OK.” It is difficult to go back once you’ve gone too far forward. After you set one filter gallery for every new layer you can click [Command + F] and the last filter gallery settings will apply to it. I will discuss more filter options in a future post.
156 Understanding Adobe Photoshop: Blending modes | RH
Blending modes are brilliant, they can help tone down a filter gallery edit. Ideally multiply, screen, or overlay will give the image a new look when the original image is blended with the filter gallery layer. Richard Harrington says in this tutorial if you want to save time and go through all the blending modes avoiding clicking on each one individually; then: click the move tool hot key [v] and then click [shift] & [+] or [shift] & [-] to move through the different blending modes. Cool trick!
157 Understanding Adobe Photoshop: Filters & Blending modes | RH
Richard Harrington sums it up quite nicely in this last tutorial. In the beginning, remember it is all about moderation, try not to make your images scream “I’ve been edited with Photoshop!” If you can make your filters and blending modes look as if they belong together than you are on the right track to becoming a photo editor.
Adobe Photoshop Lessons:
- Understanding Layers; Navigating the layers palette (if it’s not there go to “Window” and make sure “Layers” is checked), and learn how the order of layers effects the way they appear to the editor.
- Don’t Erase! Mask Instead! | IS; Masking is a non destructive way to edit layers. To use a mask I can click on it and activate the brush tool (& make sure I have my default (B&W) foreground & background swatches). When I paint on this mask in black the content in my layer disappears, however if I paint in white the content comes back. If you erase with the eraser tool on a layer then the data will be lost forever, and is therefore a destructive editing tool that should be avoided.
- Clipping Mask vs Layer Mask | IS; If an artist wanted to put an image into a block of text to create a unique type they could use the clipping mask technique (I personally recommend doing this action in Adobe Illustrator).
- The Filter Gallery; Includes the following sub-categories Artistic, Brush Strokes, Distort, Sketch, Stylize & Texture. The “new layer” icon actually means a new filter in the Filter Gallery. This allows the editor to stack filters on top of one another. It’s important not to over do it, take enough time to decide how you want it to look before selecting “OK.”
- Blending Modes; main modes are Multiply, Screen, or Overlay. I usually pick the one I like the best and make sure none of the options in that blending section fit better. Then I settle on the one blending mode that will work the best for the image at hand.
- Filters & Blending Modes; learn how to use filters on various layers and apply blending modes on top layers to create dramatic lighting and other blending effects. Think about how to use filters and blending modes well together.