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⦁ Introduction

⦁1. Getting Started

⦁ Lesson 2
Airbrushing a B&W photo

⦁ Lesson 3
Selection tools

⦁ Lesson 4
Intro to Masking

⦁ Lesson 5
More with Masking

More Practice with Masking.
There are so many times your going to need to isolate one image or part of one image from the rest that using your quick mask is really something that you must be comfortable with. Only practice will do that.

This next assignment involves more masking only this time the image is a much more complicated shape. By the time you complete this one, you should be very comfortable using the quick mask. Some Photoshop special effects at the end of this project are always guaranteed to make at least one student in my class say “aw cool!”


So, in the image bank, find the image called “vacation spot.” Then pick out a boat. There are several to choose from. We will cut the boat out of it’s image and paste it into the vacation spot. Then.... add a reflection in the water so it really looks like it belongs there and isn’t just pasted in like some magazine collage.


First use your lasso tool and select you boat. Don’t agonize over this. Just whip around the boat. We’ll edit that selection line in the mask mode.

Turn on your mask.

Spend some time now masking. Don’ t forget to check your brush and eraser pressure settings. They must be set to 100%. And always use a hard edged brush. Not one of the fuzzy ones. Zoom in and out as needed.


Here are a few technique tips for how to get into detailed areas without turning this project into a career.

If your boat has fine lines such as the rigging in mine, the easiest way to mask those is to just paint mask right over the entire area. Then pick a brush that most closely matches the width of the line, and using the eraser, cut the lines out. It’s much easier than trying to paint in mask right up to those thin lines.



Another trick, when you have a corner to mask, rather than using smaller and smaller brushes, simply erase with large ones. One side and then the other. The shape will be much more triangular than if you tried to paint it in using tiny brushes.


Again, don’t agonize over this. We will be scaling that boat down from the size you have to something that would fit in a postage stamp. Any time you go from large to small, little details vanish. I’ve actually had students try to mask around the noses of the people on board. Don’t bother. This isn't rocket science. Just come close like in my sample. It will look fine once it's shrunk.

Once your boat is masked, turn the mask icon to the off position. Look at your selection lines. If you see spots that need fixing simply turn the mask back on and make adjustments.

Once masked and adjusted, with your selection lines on, mask off, (no red) we need to feather the edge a bit. Right now that boat would look just like it were cut out of a page. Even in it’s original image, if you zoom in and look, where the boat ends and background begins, the transition is very soft. Not cut out of cardboard. To duplicate that, go to SELECT/FEATHER and enter a small number. I used 1 pixel for mine. Possibly 2 depending on which boat your working with. You won’t see any change but trust me, it feathered.

Then go to EDIT/COPY

Next click on your vacation spot image and EDIT/PASTE.


Your boat will be huge in comparison. Remember how to fix this? EDIT/TRANSFORM/SCALE. Don’t forget to use a corner handle, and hold down that shift key to keep from squashing your boat.
Scale it down pretty small. And leave some room in the foreground so we can put in a reflection.

Once you have it where you want it lets have some fun with Photoshop magic.

First duplicate your boat layer. (Remember, your layers pallet in the upper right corner, DUPLICATE LAYER? Or... under LAYERS in the menu bar.)


Next, go to EDIT/TRANSFORM/FLIP VERTICAL.

Using your move tool, position your “reflected” layer so the bottoms of each boat meet.

Next, go back to EDIT/TRANSFORM/DISTORT. This time we want to warp the shape a little. Reflections are rarely the same height as the subject casting the reflection. Play with the distort box and see what it does. Look at the reflections of other objects in the image and make your reflection about the same relative size and pointed in the same relative direction.


Next go to your menu bar under FILTER/DISTORT/RIPPLE. A separate window comes up.

This confuses beginners all the time. Most filter effects are big memory users so most of them don’t actually apply the filter until you have it set the way you want. This is a “preview” window for you to play around with. The small window there, which is most likely empty right now, is actually showing you what is in the active layer but only a little box dead center in that layer. If your boat is say, two o’clock and just above dead center, it doesn't’ show up in that window. Put your curser right in the preview window. Note it turns into a little hand. If your boat is up and to the right of dead center in your image, then click that hand up and to the right in that preview window and drag down to the left. Keep doing this. until your boat moves into view.

If this still has you stumped, and I know it’s easier to show than explain, there are also two small boxes right under that preview window. One has a minus sign. Click that a few times until you can find your boat. Once centered, click the plus sign until it’s large enough to see the filter effect.


Now play around with the filter settings. There are three bars to pick from and a toggle bar as well. Go ahead and see what they all do, then find a ripple that best fits with this image. Mine is only a slight ripple since this water is pretty calm.

Finally, turn the layer opacity down so your “reflection” is semi transparent. (This is usually when someone in class says “aw cool!”)

And there you have it. Two images from two very different places merged as one. Of course there would be more things we could do to this. The lighting for example is different on the boat than in the background but I’ll leave that for another lesson.

Oh, one more tip. Look at your layers pallet. If you want to move your boat around and move the reflection at the same time, you can “chain” the layers together. Turn on your boat layer, then click the empty box in front of the reflection layer. Note the little chain that appeared? Now both layers will act as one. Move the boat and the reflection moves too. Resize the boat, and the reflections sizes at the same time. This sure beats moving one, then turning on the other layer, move that, make them line up etc.... To unlink the layers just click the chain icon again. This comes in real handy when you have many layers that need to be moved at the same time.