How to use Layer Masks and Adjustment Layers in Photoshop

Do the words “adjustment layer” or “layer masks” scare you?

If so, this revised video (which includes Photoshop versions up through CS4) is a MUST Watch, Must Share, and Must Bookmark.

Here are some notes to help you along:

- White Reveals (shows)

- Black Conceals (hides)

- Use a “airbrush soft round” to paint (change the hardness as you get close to subject if you can see halo or marks but never go to 100% hardness)

- Make sure your layer mask is selected (has a box outlined around it)

- Change the opacity of the brush as needed for more control – I often work with a low opacity brush and let the effect build.

- Shortcuts used “[ or ]” – the left bracket makes brush smaller and right bracket makes the brush bigger

- D puts default colors as swatches (white foreground/black background) – X swaps these two.

 How to use Layer Masks and Adjustment Layers in Photoshop

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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16 Comments and 0 Replies



  1. 1
    MariaV says:

    Excellent. Thank you, Jodi.

  2. 2
    jason says:

    thanks Jodi, very helpful…once again!

  3. 3
    ally says:

    Thanks Jodi! most of this I could even do with my PSE7! Bonus!!

  4. 4
    Jan says:

    What a great video! It was extremely helpful. Thank you.

  5. 5
    Kim says:

    Another great tutorial Jodi!

  6. 6
    Cindy says:

    thanks!! i appreciate you explaining curves and masking.

  7. 7
    Sarah says:

    Thanks for the video, I just can’t figure out how to add a layer mask in PSE6. Is it possible?!

  8. 8
    Rose says:

    I so need to take one of your classes! That was awesome, thanks for the tip! (I am familiar with using masks but not as in depth as this tutorial)

  9. 9
    Penny says:

    Thanks, this is excellent.

  10. 10
    Gale says:

    Fantastic tutorial. I learned so much in that nine minutes.

  11. 11

    [...] (shows), black conceals (hides).  If you are unfamiliar with masking, you may want to watch my layer masking video here.  As you paint with black to hide the top layer in parts, it will reveal the glasses.  Make sure [...]

  12. 12

    Truly great article as for me. It would be nice to read a bit more about such theme. Thanks for posting such info.

    Mia HERNANDEZ

  13. 13
    cna training says:

    Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  14. 14
    Angela says:

    Love you lady..I’ve been perplexed by inverted masks. I could see them used in actions, but couldn’t for the life of me figure them out when trying to do my own edits. THANK YOU!

  15. 15
    Saurabh says:

    Excellent !
    This is what I was desperately looking for.

  16. 16
    Wayne says:

    Excellent! I was having trouble figuring out how to change an adjustment layer mask to Hide All and how to show what I had painted, you covered both of these. Also good hints on keyboard shortcuts and brush design. Thanks!!



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