Core Skills: Pho­to­shop

Mark White takes a look at the func­tion of masks, vec­tor masks and clip­ping masks, and shows you how to use all three ef­fec­tively in your art

ImagineFX - - Contents -

Make the most of masks, vec­tor masks and clip­ping masks, with Mark White.

Art is all about ex­pres­sion, and some­times in dig­i­tal art il­lu­sion is just as im­por­tant as dis­play. Hid­ing is as im­por­tant as show­ing. Just as the Eraser is as trusty as the Pen­cil when it comes to mak­ing sketches, Pho­to­shop of­fers its own ways to hide parts of your work, leav­ing only the pol­ished fin­ished prod­uct. The most ef­fec­tive and ac­ces­si­ble way is through a mask.

Let’s start at the very be­gin­ning. Pho­to­shop’s work­flow is built upon layers for you to draw. But what you draw on a layer doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be what you see in the fi­nal im­age, thanks to masks. A mask de­fines how many pix­els you ac­tu­ally see of that layer, while fil­ter­ing out ev­ery­thing else. Reg­u­lar layers masks con­sist of black and white pix­els that ei­ther hide or show de­tail on your layer. A vec­tor mask will cre­ate shapes to hide layers. And a clip­ping mask will help you to add pix­els just to the layer be­low.

Masks are what makes dig­i­tal art in Pho­to­shop. It pro­vides you with a non-de­struc­tive way to erase, and re­ally, what you don’t draw is just as im­por­tant as what you do.

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