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Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

User discussion concerning all that's Photoshop Elements (all versions).

Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Cybersparkle » Sat Jul 05, 2008 9:29 pm

Thank you so much for your reply and welcome!

ok- I have the Bob layer masks in the PSE and I ordered LoCasio's book which will be here this coming Wed. I think it will just take some time for me to grapple with it all- so glad u guys are kind enough to help.

To let you know my level of understanding- I understand what a layer mask is at it's basic level. I don't understand what a work path, channel or work flow is. I know what blend modes are but not when to apply them. I mostly use the selection, eraser, opacity and blur tool to combine pictures into one pic. I think my question is- what does a layer mask do that I cant do with the eraser tool- to me it seems that that is what happens when I use it; it erases the layer it's on? That is what I use (with the selection tool) to get objects out of pics and merge them onto other layers and blend with opacity, blur or feathered selection tool.

Is it that you can use either method (my way vs layer masks) with equal results? Or does the layer mask way somehow produce better results or is a lot more faster method? I understand your explanation of the kinds of layer masks u offer, but I dont understand how the layer masks with the selections in them work.

I think I learn best visually and it clears up so much confusion so quickly. I have a huge favor to ask of anyone who totally understands this- if it is too much, I surely understand- time is so short. I have uploaded several pictures to a google picasa album to be used by anyone willing to try to help me (the pictures are pub domain ,some for commercial use others for personal use- if anyone wants the link to the site, let me know, it's a great site!). Here's the theme idea- there is a picture of a car on the road, aligators, scorpion, a sky, alcohol glasses and a ball of lightning. I planned on making a picture where the glasses sit on the dashboard and in them the aligator or scorpion floats. The sky in the car picture would be changed to the overcast sky and the lightning ball would be used to create lightning in the sky striking the road in the car picture. The moral is that danger (gators/scorpions) lurk in drinking and driving. I will attempt a quick composite myself and post it there too just to give a clearer idea.

Is there anyone that could merge these pics into this theme and take screen shots (esp for PSE users) to show how the layer masks work with the selections? I'm not looking for a perfect master piece, just something that will demonstrate the techniques visually. I think this would be a wonderful tutorial for this site perhaps. If anyone is willing and needs me to do something else to help in the matter, just say the word. I know that masks are soooo important to get and necessary to one day be professional. I have a goal of being a fantasy portrait photographer and wont make it there til I get this.

Here is a link to the album
http://picasaweb.google.com/cybersparkl ... LayerMasks

Thanks again so much for your patience Bob and the layer masks

Blessings
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Bob » Sun Jul 06, 2008 5:23 am

Some terminology:

Work flow is simply the sequence of steps you take to get something done. Work flows are personal, my preferred way of doing something might not be your preferred way.

Work path is a Photoshop feature not a Photoshop Elements feature. Photoshop Elements does not have a pen tool and cannot create paths. In photoshop, work paths are temporary paths created for a specific purpose and not saved with the file. You can also create named paths in Photoshop and those will be saved.

Channels are a way to represent and work with the primary colors in an image. For RGB images, you have a Red, Green, and Blue channel. There is also a channel that represents transparency and that's commonly called an alpha channel. If you could see a channel, it would appear to be a black and white grayscale image. Each pixel in the image would have a grayscale value corresponding to the amount of that channel's color in that pixel, with black being none present. For an alpha channel, black would correspond to totally transparent and white would be totally opaque. When you work with layer masks, you are working with an alpha channel. Photoshop has extensive tools to work with channels. Photoshop Elements does not. But, some Photoshop Elements tools, such as levels, do have dropdown menus to select a particular channel that the tool will affect.

Regarding layer masks:

One of the biggest advantages of layer masks over the eraser tool is that they are non-destructive. If you erase something, it's gone. With a layer mask, you can go back at any time and modify the mask, even in a totally separate editing session. So, the next morning if you change your mind or notice that you cut something off that you shouldn't have, it's easy to deal with.

Another advantage of layer masks is that you can visually see what you are doing. Semi-transparent areas such as you would get with feathering or erasing with a soft brush are clearly visible. You have much finer control.

And, you can do things with a layer mask that you simply cannot do with an eraser. You can apply an adjustment or a filter to the mask or use tools such as dodge and burn. Find edges, for example, can be used to create a specialized mask for edge sharpening. The list goes on. It's really quite powerful.

And, of course, when used with an adjustment layer, you control where and how much the adjustment is applied.

The LoCasio book will go into the details. After you've had a chance to go over it, you should have a pretty good understanding.
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Cybersparkle » Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:10 pm

Thanks so much- that really clears up alot-this is like learning a whole new language! Now I'm beginning to see the differences btwn the programs besides just the cmyk printing thing I had heard of. I had been doing more abstract art but I can see with using photos and compositing eventually it will be necessary to upgrade. I can hardly wait for the book to get here to try out some experiments and hopefully get even more insights.

Blessings & thanks again
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby momoffduty » Thu Jul 10, 2008 2:16 pm

Finally had a chance to try these out. Thanks Bob for sharing and the directions were easy step by step, much appreciated. Here is a picture using 2 mask layers. Had the mask over the radial blur and set the mask selection to feather 10 px, think it should be more to get a smoother transitions. What is a good number?
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Bob » Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:03 pm

It's difficult to give a number because it depends on the size of the image as well as the feeling you are trying to achieve. A ten pixel feather on an 800 pixel image will have a much stronger effect than a 10 pixel feather on a 2000 pixel image. For a creative use like the one in your photo, a fairly high value will probably work, but it's difficult to visualize the result beforehand.

Try this. select the layer you want to feather and click on the thumbnail of the layer mask for that layer. (I'm assuming here that you have the file for the photo you posted and there is a layer mask with a selection already there). This selects the mask so that you are working on it instead of the image. Apply the gaussian blur filter. Make sure preview is checked. Now increase the blur radius and watch the effect on the image. Adjust it until the degree of blending looks good. If there are areas of the mask you don't want blurred, you can use a selection to limit the area affected just like you would on a regular image instead of a mask.
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Paul LS » Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:16 pm

Wow, very nice Cheryl. I would love to try out some effects on photos, problem is trying to find the time to do everything I would like to do. :(
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby momoffduty » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:42 pm

Paul, finding the time is my problem too. I have a million projects around here I want to get done, so took an hour break today. :)

Bob, not sure if I follow. Bottom of layer stack has the radial blur set to zoom on the whole pic. The layer above has a mask. On that layer, I used the oval selection tool first then applied the mask. Had the selection tool set to feather 10px. The original pic is about 2500xA(4x6).

I wanted the feathering to be softer between the layers. The nice thing about the masks is it is just a click. Have learned to make several duplicate layers first that way I can just trash it if I don't like the effect. Turning the eye on and off helps too.

I did try the gausian blur, but like the radial look. Think that would be good for a sports pic or fast car, etc.

Thanks for your mask set!
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Bob » Thu Jul 10, 2008 6:14 pm

OK, I was imagining it with the radial blur layer on top with a hide selection mask. You have the unblurred layer on top with a reveal selection mask.

I was talking about blurring the mask, not the image. Blurring the mask softens the edges and adds transparency similar to what feathering would do with the advantage that you can see the effect previewed as you change the blur radius.
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby momoffduty » Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:49 pm

Changed it up and did the hide selection mask with the radial blur applied to the mask and Works! I also tried it with the reveal and would have to set the selection pixel feather to around 50 to get the same effect.

Again, thanks, you explain things very easy to follow. Have to save thanks too regarding the trick to align and object using a temporary fill background. That one has saved me countless hours. No more counting grid squares!
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Bob » Sat Jul 12, 2008 3:03 am

Thanks, Cheryl! Glad I could help.
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Re:PSE Layer Mask Actions- FEEDBACK

Postby jag32266 » Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:09 am

Hello,
First I would like to thank you =D> for uploading these since I for one appreciate any and all help and especially of this kind.

:arrow: PSE v6 usage; installation was smooth and it did take several minutes for the database to rebuild as instructed. Open the actions in Photo Effects and the err, hu humm, 'thumbnails' show up (well done).

:arrow: I have a photo open and double-click on the "add mask hide all" with no selection made and the only error msg I do get is the "command SET is not currently available". Since I don't have a selection I would think this to be a normal msg. I click on the Continue button and go on.

From that point I go on to edit the photo using my default colors as per normal and I'm just a happy :bounce: camper.

As I continue to use more of these I'll be happy to add more here, if you like, but I just wanted you to know that so far in V6 it seems to be working as expected!!
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Bob » Tue Jul 22, 2008 5:36 pm

Thanks for the feedback!

Yes, you can safely ignore that error message. And, you are correct, it is because you don't have a selection. I completely forgot about mentioning that in the instructions. :oops: "Add mask hide all" is supposed to create a solid black mask but retain any selection that may be present. Photoshop Elements can't create a "hide all" mask directly like it can with a "reveal all" mask. The action has to add a "reveal all" mask, remove the selection when making the mask solid black, and then restore the selection. If there is no selection to restore you will get that message. There is another way to create the mask that wouldn't generate an error message, but that method would generate a selection of the entire image where there was no selection before -- I felt that was worse than getting the error message.

Here's a tip. The only time you really need to use the "add mask hide all" is when you have a selection but don't want the selection to show up in the layer mask when you create it. And, in that scenario, you won't get the error message. The "add mask reveal selection" and "add mask hide selection" will create a standard "reveal all" or "hide all" mask when there is no selection. So, the overwhelming majority of the time you can get by with using just those two actions.
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby jag32266 » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:42 pm

Bob,

Thanks for that TIP. You are exactly right and it all works just as described w/o the msg coming into play.

Again, thanks so much for this very functional capability! =D>
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Chuck Engels » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:31 am

I just want to add a link to the most recent Action that Bob has posted, Out of Bounds.
I love this :)
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Re: Free PSE Layer Mask Actions

Postby Rockdoc » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:43 am

Here's my attempt. I wanted the picture to look like something old and faded - still might fine tune that somewhat.

Image
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