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inverted mask

Graphic Design Tutorials

Inverted Masks

Let's get even fancier with layer masks. In this tutorial, we will mask out just about everything inside one image (a highway at night) except for what is inside of another image (a sportscar). It's kind of like what we did with clipping masks, but using a layer mask.

This tutorial is inspired by the marketing image from the video game Burnout Paradise:

Burnout Paradise

 

  1. Save and open two images in Photoshop: inverted-mask.jpg and inverted-mask2.jpg. Position them so you can see both at the same time.

inverted mask

  1. Start with inverted-mask.jpg. Press Ctrl-J to duplicate the car image on a new layer. That way we always have the original if we make a mistake.
  2. Save the file as sportscar.psd. You don't need to add your name to this particular file. You won't be turning this one in.
  3. Remove the color from the new layer: Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

inverted mask

  1. Blur the image a bit to smooth out any small details: Filter > Blur > Surface Blur.
  2. Set the Radius to 10 pixels and the Threshold to 5 levels. Click OK.

inverted mask

  1. Because the background switches from dark to light, we'll process two versions of the image: one for the roof portion and another for the lower chassis. Press Ctrl-J to duplicate this desaturated layer.
  2. On the top layer, choose Image > Adjustments > Threshold and set the level to 50. Click OK.

inverted mask

  1. The areas around the top of the car will be our focus for this layer. Click on the Lasso tool in the Toolbox and draw a selection around everything you want to remove. That is, draw through the white on the hood, around the left, bottom and right of the chassis, then carefully up and around the back end where the background switches to black.

inverted mask

  1. Fill the area with white: Edit > Fill, Use: White. Click OK. Ctrl-D to deselect.

inverted mask

  1. Turn off the eye icon for the top layer in the Layers palette, and select the middle layer. Invert the image: Ctrl-I (or Image > Adjustments > Invert.)

inverted mask

  1. Choose Image > Adjustments > Threshold and set the level to 145. Click OK.

inverted mask

  1. Using the Lasso tool again, draw around the top portion of the car: just below the windshield, out to both sides, and over the roof.

inverted mask

  1. Fill the area with white: Edit > Fill, Use: White. Click OK. Ctrl-D to deselect.

inverted mask

  1. Turn the eye icon back on for the top layer, then select the top layer in the Layers palette.

inverted mask

  1. Change the blend mode for the top layer to Multiply.
  2. Press Ctrl-E to merge the top and middle layers together.
  3. Save the file.
  4. Bring the Channels palette into view (Window > Channels).
  5. Ctrl-click on the RGB channel to select all the white portions of the image.

inverted mask

  1. Click on any Marquee tool in the Toolbox. In the Options Bar, make sure that the New Selection button is selected.

inverted mask

  1. Using this marquee tool, click-and-drag from inside the "marching ants" selection on the car image to the highway image.

inverted mask

  1. Double-click on the Background layer in the Layers palette and click OK in order to change it into a regular layer.
  2. Save the file as lastnamefirstinitial-inverted-mask.psd.

inverted mask

  1. Press the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. This will hide everything outside your marching ants selection. We'll move the car to better position later.

inverted mask

  1. Press the Ctrl key while you click on the Create new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. This will add a new layer at the bottom.
  2. Fill the the layer with white: Edit > Fill, Use: White. Click OK.

inverted mask

  1. On the layer with the highway and layer mask, click on the Indicates layer mask is linked to layer icon (it looks like a piece of chain). This will allow us the move the car mask while leaving the highway in place.
  2. Click on the layer mask thumbnail to edit the layer mask.
  3. Press Ctrl-T to transform the layer mask.
  4. Move your mouse just outside a corner of the transformation box. When it changes to a black double-arrow, click and drag to rotate the car clockwise a bit. Press Enter to save the transformation.

inverted mask

  1. With the layer mask thumbnail still highlighted, select the Move tool, then move the car to a place that shows a more interesting highway scene through it.

inverted mask

  1. Select the Brush tool. In the Options bar, set it to 100% hardness and around 50 pixels in diameter.
  2. Press D to set the foreground to white, then press X to switch it to black.
  3. With the layer mask thumbnail still highlighted, paint out the diagonal bit above the car.

inverted mask

  1. Paint out the diagonal bit on the left and right of the car too. I scooted the layer mask up a bit more with the Move tool, so that some street lights sparkle through it.

inverted mask

  1. Save the file. You're done!

 

Here's what else can be done with the image. I added some text, then added the Paradise text shape to the mask over the highway, so it shows a bit of ambient city light inside it.

inverted mask

 

Thanks to Photoshop User Magazine for the tutorial idea by Corey Barker.


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