Current date:January 19, 2022

How to Use Layer Masks in Photoshop?

Using a layer mask is an excellent way to conceal or reveal objects in your images. Read the entire article to know how you can use layer masks in Photoshop.

Layer masking is an easy way to hide and reveal any part of images without deleting any object permanently. And if the layer masking is performed with Photoshop, the process will be much easier than any other software.

Layer masking with Photoshop is a very efficient and non-destructive way of working that helps designers to become more creative. Designers can make quick, reversible changes or create eye-catching visual effects on their images using layer masks.

But most designers encounter challenges with how to use layer masks in photoshop. For that, in this context, we will let you know how you can easily use layer masks in adobe photoshop. So, stay with us, keep reading this context.

What is a Layer Mask?

A layer mask is an excellent tool in Adobe Photoshop that helps alter a single layer’s visibility in a photo. It can be used to conceal specific areas of a chosen layer of a photo. Also, a layer mask helps to make other layers visible using the brush tool.

Using a simple analogy, you can easily conceal any part of an image, cut out objects, and adjust specific details in Photoshop. Besides, you can use different types of masking in Photoshop with Keyboard shortcuts to create photo filters and effects. This will help to give an attractive look to your edited photos.

What is a Purpose of the Layer Mask?

The layer mask is one of the useful tools in Adobe Photoshop. Below, we have demonstrated why you need to use the layer mask tool in images.

Non-Destructive Way to Apply Adjustments

Using layer masking, you can make adjustments without permanently altering the original that is an excellent way to improve your workflow. This will help you to use the eraser tool to remove an object without permanently erasing it.

Refine Your Cutouts

You can’t fix any mistakes while cutting out an image after selecting the background. Using a layer mask, you can easily add or remove pieces of your cutout later.

Change Opacity of a Layer

With a layer mask, you can also change the opacity of any selected area in images. When you use this tool to change opacity, the layer’s opacity will reduce equally.

Gradient Adjustments to Soften Edges

If you wish to combine two photos side by side, you can easily remove the edge and refine the image using a layer mask. This tool also enables you to apply a slope to the mask to make the transition much more pleasant.

Apply Smart Filters

When you convert a layer into a smart object, you will see a smart mask layer. This mask helps to control the clarity of each filter used in your layer. You can also utilize a filter on a selected area using a layer mask.

Apply to a Group of Layers

Using a layer mask in Photoshop, you can apply transparency adjustment to a series of layers. It lets you create group layers and update every layer in that group.

How to Use Layer Masks in Photoshop?

Using a layer mask in Photoshop is not as difficult a task as you think. For your help, below we have described how you can easily use layer masks in Photoshop.

Add a Layer Mask to Images

Follow the below steps to add a layer mask your image through Adobe Photoshop:

Step 1:

Launch the Photoshop software on your computer from the Start menu. After that, open any image that you want to make a layer mask.

Step 2:

You will get the background layer locked on the layer panel. Move the cursor to the layer panel and tap on the add layer mask option. A layer mask thumbnail will add to the right of your photo thumbnail.

Step 3:

You can adjust black, white, and gray on the layer masks. Move the cursor to the toolbar and choose the Brush Tool (B). Press D to restore the set of Background/Foreground colors to Black and White.

Step 4:

Make sure you have chosen the layer mask thumbnail on the layer panel. Now brush over the image to hide objects of the layer. You will see the reflection on the layer mask when you make a stroke with the brush.

Step 5:

When you change a layer into a smart object, you will see a smart mask layer. Click X to choose the white foreground color and brush over the conceal zone to expose them.

Step 6:

If you want to modify the layer mask directly, click the option and press on the layer mask. Now you can adjust the layer with black, white, and gray. Click the option and tap on the layer mask to exit.

Step 7:

Move the thumbnail to the trash to delete the layer mask from the layers panel. You can also delete the layer mask from the new window option.

Use Layer Mask with the Selection Tool

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Using the selection tool can be handier when you have to hide the background. Check out the procedure below to use a layer mask with the selection tool on adobe photoshop.

Step 1:

Add a RAW format image file on Photoshop and drop the previous images. Resize the RAW format image to fit the page, clicking Command- T to Transform.

Step 2:

Select the RAW image file from the layer panels. After that, Tap on the Add Layer Mask option.

Step 3:

Move the cursor to the tool window and choose the Magic Wand Tool (W). Set the Sample Size to print sample, tolerance to 32, and tick mark the contiguous option on the options bar.

Step 4:

Make sure you have taken the layer mask thumbnail on the layers panel. Now click Command-I to overturn the selection from white to black. After that, Command-D to Deselect. This will help you, while the selection will not be perfect.

Step 5:

Now you can use the Brush tool (B) to work on the details of the image. Right-Click to alter the brush as needed, and click Z to zoom in and Option to out.

Use Layer Masks with Adjustment Layers

An adjustment layer is essential when you need to create your own image filters and effects. Below, we have demonstrated how you can use layer masks with adjustment layers.

Step 1:

We will work on the same photo as in the section above. Drag the cursor to the layers panel and choose the Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer. After that, click on the Hue/Saturation option.

Step 2:

Adjust the Hue to your desired color on the properties panel. At this point, the entire image color will be changed. If you want to select a particular area, choose the Layer Mask thumbnail. After that, press CTRL-I to reverse the photo and choose the Brush Tool (B) to cover the change from the toolbar.

Step 3:

Choose the Brush Tool (B) from the toolbar. Using white as the foreground color, paint over your desired area to show the color. Now press X, toggle between the background and foreground colors.


Adobe Photoshop is a prominent photo editing software that comes with numerous editing tools like a layer mask. Layer masking is an excellent way to conceal part of a layer that gives more flexibility without permanently erasing a layer. It helps to make image composites, cut out objects, and many more in a layer. 

Someone may find Photoshop confusing for its countless tools and techniques. For that, through this article, we have provided a complete step-by-step guideline about how you can use layer masks in photoshop. Following the simple process described above, you can easily add a layer mask to your image along with selection tools and adjustment layers.

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