JPEG Save Options Explained – Photoshop

Cover - JPEG Save Options Explained - Photoshop

Do you know that just by tweaking a little in JPEG save options in Photoshop and we can save more than 10 GB of hard drive space? We can also increase the site loading speed by as much as 45% using this option.

I would like to clarify some facts before I go ahead. One of them is whether JPG and JPEG are different.

JPG vs. JPEG

There is no difference between JPEG and JPG. It’s funny that many people think they are different. I also explained this in one of my old post on JPG vs. JPEG.

They both are same and developed by Joint Photographic Experts Group. The only reason behind its two names is an old version of Microsoft’s Window. The old version of Window takes only three characters for any format. As JPEG has four characters, the group shortened its name to JPG so that the format can also be accessible by Window’s users.

Most of the users nowadays use Window. This is why you’ll see JPG more often than JPEG. With the advancement in technology, Window now supports extensions with four character and hence you can now view JPEG on your PC.

JPG Fun Facts

  • JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group.
  • It’s a format to store digital images which supports a maximum size of 65,535 x 65,535 pixels.
  • It compresses file size by selectively discarding data. Check the below images.
  • It supports only 8-bit images. If you save a 16-bit image to this format, Photoshop automatically lowers the bit depth.
  • It doesn’t preserve transparency.

Below is an example for you. You can see a huge loss in details between the first photo and the third photo. This photo is 90% compressed.

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JPEG Save Options in Photoshop

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1: Matte

The JPEG format does not support transparency means if there’s any part in the image which does not have any pixels then JPG won’t support that. Some common examples are like a photo with no background, logo, etc.

When you save an image as a JPG file, transparent pixels are filled with the matte color.

To simulate the effect of background transparency, you can match the matte color to the web page background color. If your image contains transparency and you do not know the web page background color, or if the background is a pattern, you should use a format that supports transparency (GIF, PNG‑8, or PNG‑24).

2: Image Options

This thing does wonder. It lets you compress the photo which reduces its size.

If you’re saving a photo for your website then you don’t want that photo to be 5 MB. You’d rather want it to be in the range of 50 – 150 KB. This field does that. But this field does it at the cost of the quality of the photo.

Quality box and slider work together. You can either right any value in the range of 0 and 12 and the slider will adjust accordingly.

Here’s the dropdown also work synchronously. If you drag the slider then the dropdown value will set automatically.

3: Format Options

Specifies the format of your JPEG file. Adobe says that

  1. Baseline (“Standard”) uses a format recognized by most web browsers.
  2. Baseline Optimized creates a file with optimized color and a slightly smaller file size.
  3. Progressive displays a series of increasingly detailed versions of the image (you specify how many) as it downloads. Not all web browsers support optimized and Progressive JPEG images.

4: Preview

Ticking the “Preview” lets you preview the photo with the selection options. You can see how the photo would look before saving it. I always keep it ticked.

Just below that Photoshop tells the approx. size of the photo after saving. It won’t matter much if you’re saving your personal photographs but will a lot if you’re saving photos for your website.

You don’t want the web photos to be in MBs but rather in the range of 50 – 150 KBs. Heavy photos will take more time to load and increasing the website loading time. Google says that 1 sec. increase in load time reduces the pageviews by 20%. So, if you get 100 page views and your website loading speed is 3 secs. You will get around 80 pageviews if your website loading speed in 4 secs.

How to install fonts in Photoshop

You found a beautiful ​font for your design and you want to use it in Photoshop. But, you don’t know how to use that font in Photoshop. I have been there. This is why I am writing this tutorial on how to install fonts in Photoshop for you.

I am going to show you how to install fonts in Photoshop that is powered by either macOS or Windows.

Let’s begin

Table of Contents

Install fonts in Photoshop for macOS

Photoshop for macOS shows the fonts that are installed in your macOS Operating System. To use a font in Photoshop, you need to install the font in your macOS first.

Let’s see how we can install a font in macOS.

Step 1: Download the font

Open the site from where you can download the font. Not all sites let you download fonts for free. I am going to download Open Sans font from Font Squirrel.

Open the font and click on the Download TTF button.

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Step 2: Install the font

Generally, when you download a TTF file, it gives you all versions of the font. You can install all the versions you want but I am interested in OpenSans-Regular.ttf version.

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Open the font and click on Install.

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That’s all. Restart Photoshop and you would see the font.

Install fonts in Photoshop for Windows

Photoshop for Windows shows the fonts that are installed in your Windows Operating System. To use a font in Photoshop, you need to install the font in your Windows first.

Let’s see how we can install a font in Windows.

Step 1: Download the font

Open the site from where you can download the font. Not all sites let you download fonts for free. I am going to download Open Sans font from Font Squirrel.

Open the font and click on the Download TTF button.

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Step 2: Install the font

Generally, when you download a TTF file, it gives you all versions of the font. You can install all the versions you want but I am interested in OpenSans-Regular.ttf version.

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Open the font and click on Install.

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That’s all. Restart Photoshop and you would see the font.

Completely Remove Stretch Marks in Photoshop

Stretch marks don’t look good. It doesn’t matter how much you’re asked to love your body and embrace your flaws like stretch marks. The reality is that you and I cannot. The stretch mark on the belly, hips, thighs, and arms don’t look good. The laser removal of stretch marks is expensive and costs around $2500 per session. So, this is why I bring you a workaround. You can remove stretch marks in Photoshop.

You just want to post a photo and realized that your belly stretch marks are showing and you badly want to post that picture. Going to a doctor and laser remove those stretch marks are not an option. The quick workaround is to remove that stretch mark.

Table Of Content

  1. Video
  2. Step 1: Duplicate the layer
  3. Step 2: Remove the stretch mark
  4. Step 3: (Optional) Make the stretch marks partially visible

So, let’s begin the tutorial on removing stretch marks in Photoshop.

Before we begin, I want to show you the after and before image.

Final

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Initial

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Let’s begin the tutorial

Video

If you like watching video tutorials, here’s the video tutorial for you.

Step 1: Duplicate the layer

We’re going to remove the stretch marks with the Patch tool. There are many tools out there like Mix Brush, Healing Brush Tool, Clone Stamp Tool, etc. but I personally like the Patch Tool.

We want the editing to be non-destructive. So, we’ll duplicate the background layer and work in that layer.

Open the Layer panel by going to Window

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[vc_message message_box_color=”warning” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-picture-o”]Just in case, if you’re feeling lazy to remove the stretch marks then you can hire me to remove that for you. The min cost is $4 per image and the max cost is $10 per image. Send me the image at [email protected].[/vc_message]

Step 2: Remove the Stretch Marks in Photoshop

Grab the Patch tool from the tool panel or press Shift + J again and again until it comes.

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Make sure that the normal is turned on in the option bar.

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Roughly draw a selection across one of the stretch marks. Now, drag the selection to the area which does not have any stretch mark.

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Did you see how beautifully it removed the stretch mark?

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Now, do this with other stretch marks also.

Here’s my result.

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[vc_message message_box_color=”warning” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-picture-o”]If you’re feeling lazy to remove the stretch marks then you can hire me to remove that for you. The min cost is $4 per image and the max cost is $10 per image. Send me the image at [email protected].[/vc_message]

(Optional) Step 3: Make the stretch marks partially visible

If you don’t want to remove it completely then you may want to read this step.

Bring down the opacity of the duplicated layer. Decide the amount as per your requirement. I am going to choose 60%.

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This will start showing the stretch marks but it will not be as visible as it was.

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[vc_message message_box_color=”warning” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-picture-o”]If you’re feeling lazy to remove the stretch marks then you can hire me to remove that for you. The min cost is $4 per image and the max cost is $10 per image. Send me the image at [email protected].[/vc_message]

What is Smart Radius in Photoshop

I know that you see Smart Radius checkbox in Photoshop every day. I also know that you also never bothered to check what is smart radius for months or maybe for years.

Allow me to explain to you what’s smart radius in Photoshop.

What is Radius in Photoshop?

Before we understand further, let’s understand what’s Radius in Photoshop.

Radius in Photoshop determines the size of the selection border in which edge refinement occurs. Use a small radius for sharp edges, and a large one for softer edges.

What is Smart Radius in Photoshop?

Smart Radius in Photoshop helps in edge detection.

Smart Radius allows for a variable width refinement around the edge of your selection. There are many cases where you can use the Smart Radius. Among those cases, this option is helpful if your selection is a portrait that includes both hair and shoulders. In such portraits, the hair might require a larger refinement area than the shoulders.
-Source: Adobe Official Website

Should I always use Smart Radius in Photoshop?

Personally, I see that the Smart Radius is doing any good when I need to select hair.

Let me show you why. Here’s an image of the hair. I am going to roughly select the hair. One time I’ll turn on Smart Radius and another time I won’t.

Scenario 1: Smart Radius is turned on

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Scenario 2: Smart Radius is turned off

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Note: In both images, I have not done any kind of refinement with the Refine Edge brush. 

You can clearly see that the Smart Radius keeps more hair. I can further refine the selection with the Refine Edge brush.

Places where you see Smart Radius

The only place where you can find (as far as I remember) Smart Radius is Select and Mask. You can find Smart Radius in the Refine Edge in older versions of Photoshop. 

How to remove background in Photoshop

You have a headshot or a product photo and you badly want to remove the background of that photo. But the problem is that you don’t know how to remove the background. This is why I am writing this tutorial on how to remove background in Photoshop.

I am going to show you three ways to remove a photo. The ways ordered based on their difficulty level. I am going to write the easiest one first.

The easiest one is to use Microsoft Word and the next two involves Photoshop. Out of the two Photoshop methods, one is very easy and takes a couple of seconds.

Here’s the video for you if you prefer videos.

1. Remove the background of a photo using Microsoft Word

Before we go ahead, let me tell you that Microsoft Word does not remove the background as good as Photoshop. If your photo has a simple background then you can use Microsoft Word.

Pros:

  • Super duper easy to use
  • No need to have any knowledge of image editing
  • Easily accessible to everyone

Cons:

  • Does not remove the background completely. Leaves some traces
  • The output file is scaled down. Suppose you want to remove the background of a photo that you shot with a 12MP camera, the output would be like a photo that is shot with 1.2 – 2 MP camera.

[vc_message message_box_color=”warning” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-picture-o”]If you don’t want the output to be of smaller in size, you can hire me to remove the background for you.I’ll do it in Photoshop which does not scale down the image. The min cost is $4 per image and the max cost is $10 per image. Send me the image at [email protected].[/vc_message]

Before

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After

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Step 1: Open the image in Microsoft Word

Open the image in Microsoft Word to remove the background.

Open Microsoft Word. Go to Insert > Image > Picture from file. The user interface for Windows would be a little different.

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Step 2: Remove background of the photo in Microsoft Word

Go to the Picture tab. Click on the Remove Background button. It is there at the top left.

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Step 3: Finetune the removal

In case Word has removed some of the wanted areas then you can fix that. In the next window, click on the “Mark Area to Keep”. Draw a rough line and Word will keep that.

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If you think that Word has included some of the unwanted areas then you can remove that using “Mark Area to Remove”.

Once done, right click on the photo and click on “Save as picture”.

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That’s all.

[vc_message message_box_color=”warning” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-picture-o”]Tried yourself and didn’t like the output? You can hire me to remove the background for you. The min cost is $4 per image and the max cost is $10 per image. Send me the image at [email protected].[/vc_message]

2. Remove background in Photoshop using Select Subject

Time to use Photoshop.

Pros:

  • Super duper easy to use
  • Does not reduce the size and quality of the photo
  • Leaves no traces of Photoshop
  • Edits the image professionally

Cons:

  • Not free
  • Not the majority of people are familiar with Photoshop

Before

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After

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Open the image in Photoshop.

Step 1: Select the Subject

Select Subject feature is available only in the versions that launched in 2018 and after. Go to Select > Subject.

Photoshop will use artificial intelligence to automatically select the subject. The subject is the main focus of the image. Here the man is the subject.

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Step 2: Use Select and Mask to Refine the Selection

Time to refine the selection. We’re going to use Select and Mask for this. This option was added in 2017. If you have older versions then you can use Refine Edge. Go to Select > Select and Mask.

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Increase the radius to 250px and turn on Smart Radius. This will do your job.

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Here’s the final photo.

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[vc_message message_box_color=”warning” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-picture-o”]Feeling frustrated? If you’re having some problem and feeling frustrated, you can hand over this task to me. The max-to-max cost is $10 per image. Contact me at [email protected].[/vc_message]

2. Remove background in Photoshop using the Quick Selection Tool

Time to use another method Photoshop.

Pros:

  • Easy to use but not as easy as Select Subject
  • Does not reduce the size and quality of the photo
  • Leaves no traces of Photoshop
  • Edits the image professionally

Cons:

  • Not free
  • Not the majority of people are familiar with Photoshop

Before

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After

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Open the image in Photoshop

Step 1: Select the person with the Quick Selection Tool

Grab the Quick Selection Tool from the tool panel or press Shift + W again and again until it comes.

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Now drag the mouse over the image of the subject. Quick Selection Tool will automatically select the subject. See the GIF below.

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This will select the subject.

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Step 2: Use Select and Mask to Refine the Selection

We’re going to do the same that we did in the previous method.

Time to refine the selection. We’re going to use Select and Mask for this. This option was added in 2017. If you have older versions then you can use Refine Edge. Go to Select > Select and Mask.

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Increase the radius to 250px and turn on Smart Radius. This will do your job.

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Here’s the final photo.

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[vc_message message_box_color=”warning” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-picture-o”]Feeling frustrated? If you’re having some problem and feeling frustrated, you can hand over this task to me. The max-to-max cost is $10 per image. Contact me at [email protected].[/vc_message]

How to Load or Import Actions in Photoshop

One of the biggest advantages of Photoshop is its versatility. You can import and export lots almost everything.

You can import actions, presets, configurations, and lots of more things.

Today, I am going to show you how to load or import actions in Photoshop.

I am going to demo this with the actions that I give away on my site like Instagram filter actions.

Step 1 – Download the Action

You’ve come across a site which lets you download Photoshop Actions. The first step would be to download the Action.

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Step 2 – Change Extention to .atn

Rename the file and add “.atn” at the end.

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In the next warning window, click on “Use .atn”.

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[Shortcut] Step 3 – Open the file

Double-click the file and it’ll be imported in Photoshop.

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[If the previous step did not work] Step 3 – Open the Action panel in Photoshop

Open Photoshop. Open Layer panel by going to Window > Actions.

Click on the “Three line icon” at the top and then click on Load Actions.

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Locate the .atn file that we just downloaded.

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That’s all. It’ll import the Action.

 

How to Add Copyright and Contact Info to a Photo in Photoshop

Today’s world is full of sharing our own content. You take photos and share them on 500px.com, Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook. But, your photos can be used by any person without your permissions. One more problem is that if someone wants to contact you by looking at your photo on a random site, it will be very hard. This is where adding copyright and contact info to your photos come handy. So, I think that I should write a tutorial on how to add contact info to a photo in Photoshop.

I found a beautiful picture on Pexels by Mr. Luke Siemionov and I decided to use that photo for this tutorial. For this tutorial, I am just showing how to add copyright and contact info. I respect Luke’s work and I will not add my copyright info to this image.

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Photo by Luka Siemionov from Pexels

Let’s go

Step 1 – Open File Info

Open the image in Photoshop. Go to File > File Info. You can also press Cmd + Opt + Shift + I/Ctrl + Alt + Shift + I as keyboard shortcut.

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Step 2 – Fill the Information in the Contact Details

Photoshop will open the Basic tab as soon as it opens the File Info.

Write down everything that you want to add.

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In the copyright status, change the status to “Copyrighted”.

Wondering how to add the copyright symbol? For macOS, press Opt + G. For Windows, hold down Alt and then press 0169.

Now, switch to the IPTC tab.

Before we begin, I want to explain what is IPTC.

What is IPTC?

IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) is the most common metadata among photographers to add their contact info and copyright status.

This is how it’s defined on iptc.org.

IPTC Photo Metadata sets the industry standard for administrative, descriptive, and copyright information about images.

Enter your contact info here.

You can also add multiple names in the “Creator”. So, when someone finds your photo then one will see multiple people in the creator.

Enter your email ID and website so that one can easily contact you.

Press OK.

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Step 3 – Export the Copyright Info for Future Uses

I would be frustrated if I need to write this info one by one for every photo that I take.

Photoshop understands this pain. It allows you to create a template that I can use for all of the future images with just a few clicks.

At the bottom, click on the Export. Refer the below screenshot.

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Give it a name and save it at the default location that Photoshop suggests you.

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Step 4 – How to Import Copyright Info

Simply open the File Info from File > File Info.

Go to the bottom and choose the copyright info that you created. That’s all.

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Step 5 – Add Copyright and Contact Info to Multiple Photos

You need to have Adobe Bridge (a standalone software that comes free with Photoshop subscription) for this.

Open Adobe Bridge and browse to the photos.

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Select the photos to which you want to add the copyright and contact info. Right click on them and select File Info.

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Select the copyright info and press OK. That’s all.

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This is all, folks.

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The Ultimate Guide to Layers in Photoshop

Last Sunday, I posted the ultimate guide to layer mask in Photoshop and I got emails that there’s no ultimate guide to layers in Photoshop on TrickyPhotoshop. You are partially right. There was no ultimate guide to layers on TrickyPhotshop until now.

Layer panel is something that you will use often in Photoshop. It is the thing that differentiates Photoshop from other cheap photo editing apps. You can do below things with the help of layer panel

  • Non-destructive editing
  • Go back to any point in time
  • Edit a photo with multiple revisions

What can you expect from this tutorial?

I will be showing you how does a layer panel look, what it is, how does it work, all the buttons that you get in a layer panel, its features, and most used shortcuts for layer panel to make photos for your business or personal use to create a better look.

Table of Content

  1. What is layers in Photoshop?
  2. What is layer panel in Photoshop?
  3. Where is layer panel located in Photoshop?
  4. Anatomy of layer panel in Photoshop.
  5. Major types in layers in layer panel in Photoshop
  6. Shortcuts in layer panel in Photoshop.

1. What is Layers in Photoshop?

I am going to explain it with an analogy. Think of two identical paintings. One painting is placed on another. So, the final result is a stack of two identical paintings. That is what layers in Photoshop is. It’s a stack of images placed over one another. The only difference between the analogy and the layers is that all layers don’t have to be identical.

In a nutshell, Layers are simply a stack of images placed over one another

If you brushed on the upper painting with white color, the lower painting will stay intact. Also, if a person is seeing the painting from the top, he will not see any change in the lower painting as it is covered by the upper painting. The same way layers also work.

Let’s say that you have two layers and you edit the upper layer. The final image you’ll see is what’s being edited in the upper layer. There are ways to manipulate this but I’ll come to this topic in another tutorial.

2. What is a Layer Panel in Photoshop?

Layer panel is the window where you’ll see all the layers. The highlighted part written with “Background” is a layer.

This is how a layer panel looks in Photoshop. I’ll explain everything in this panel shortly.

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3. Where is layer panel located in Photoshop?

If you’re using Photoshop for the first time, it should be at the bottom right.

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If by any reason it does not, you can open it by going to Windows > Layer. You can also press F7 as a keyboard shortcut.

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4. Anatomy of a layer panel in Photoshop.

Save below image. It is the most important image if you want to understand the layer panel. Here I have explained all buttons in a layer panel.

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I am going to explain each one to you one by one. Let’s start with Layer Filter and go anti-clockwise.

Layer Filter – You will use it once you become an advanced user. There are so many types of layers like a normal layer, adjustment layers, smart object, etc. You can filter the similar types of layers via this.

Blend Mode – This is used to create special effects. Blend mode is basically the behavior of pixels that is based on the behavior of the pixels presents in the below layer. This is a bit complex topic. If you want to learn more, I have already written a complete guide on Blend Modes in Photoshop.

Visibility – You can show or hide a layer by clicking on this. It looks like an eye icon.

Thumbnail – This is the tiny view of the layer. It will preview how your layer looks

A layer – The entire thing that is surrounded by the blue rectangle is a layer.

Link Layer – It will help you to connect/link two layers. Two linked layers move together when you use the Move tool to move a layer

Layer Style – This is where you get options ta add fancy styles like a shadow, outer glow, etc.

Layer Mask – It adds layer mask. The layer mask controls the transparency of a layer.

Adjustment Layers – Here you can do basic adjustments like Brightness, contrast, saturation, photo filter, color balance, etc.

Group Layers – This comes into handy when you have so many layers. You can group multiple layers together so that your layer panel doesn’t look cluttered.

Delete Layer – This allows you to delete a layer. Many a time, you’ll be using the Delete/Backspace key to delete a layer rather than this one.

Create a New Layer – You can create a new layer here. Alternatively, you can use keyboard shortcut Cmd + Shift + N/Ctrl + Shift + N.

Locked – This allow a layer to be protected from moving.

Fill – It adjusts the amount of opacity of the pixels only. Any layer styles are unaffected and remain 100% opaque.

Opacity – It adjusts the amount of opacity. Layer styles are also affected by this.

5. Major types of layers in a layer panel

 

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I will explain each layer one by one. Let’s start from the top.

Layer Group – You can group multiple layers inside a folder. Photoshop calls it a group. The icon of a group is a folder. To group multiple layers, hold down Cmd/Ctrl and keep on clicking the layers you want to group. Now, press Cmd + G/Ctrl + G.

Text Layer – This layers can contain only texts. You can change the font, size, styling of the text present in this layer.

Adjustment Layer – This is a special type of layer where you can edit the photo like changing its brightness, contrast, saturation, color, etc. non-destructively (means you can undo or change it at any point of time). Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer to have a look at the adjustment layers.

Layer Style – Add special effects with this type of layer. You can add inner glow, shadow, bevel, and so many things with this type of layer style. In the above photo, I have added Inner Glow and the same I can see as written. Go to Layer > Layer Style to have a look at the layer styles.

Layer Mask – This allows you to set the transparency of a layer. Suppose, there are two layers in the layer panel and you brushed the left half of the image in the layer mask with the black color. Then the left half of the image in that layer will become transparent and you can see what’s present in the layer beneath it.

Smart Object – A special type of layer that is actually a container that can hold; multiple (or 1) layers, vectors for illustrator, raw files, video, 3D or many other types of objects.

Background Layer – When you open an image, the image will be present in the background layer. There’s a lock sign at the right of the layer. This means that the layer is locked and you cannot move the image in this layer. Click on the lock to unlock it.

6. Shortcuts in layer panel in Photoshop

To select multiple layer, hold down Cmd/Ctrl and then click on the layers.

To turn the visibility on/off of a layer, click on the eye icon present at the left side of the layer.

To copy or duplicate a layer, press Cmd/Ctrl + J.

To move a selection to a new layer, press Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + J.

To move all selected layers to a group, select the layers and then press Cmd/Ctrl + G.

To merge all the layers into a new layer, press Cmd + Opt + Shift + E/Ctrl + Alt +Shift + E.

To add an inverted mask (everything will be hidden), hold Option/Alt while adding a mask.

You can drag elements from the layers panel into other documents

To clip a content, hold down Option/Alt and click in the layer panel between two layers.

To cycle through all the blending modes, press Shift + “+”. Press Shift + “-” to cycle in reverse.

This is all for today. Have a look at The Ultimate Guide series for more exciting tutorials.

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The Ultimate Guide to Layer Mask in Photoshop

TrickyPhotoshop is for beginners and intermediate Photoshop users, and layer mask is one of the most basic things in Photoshop and all users need to know. I wonder why I never wrote an ultimate guide on the layer mask in photoshop ever since I founded TrickyPhotoshop on 23rd July 2012. Shame on me!

So, to make everything up, I am writing the ultimate guide to layer mask in Photoshop. I am going to tell you all the things that you can do with layer masks. Here is the table of content

Table of Content

  1. What is layer mask?
  2. How is layer mask different from Opacity Slider?
  3. Minimum Requirements of a layer mask.
  4. Where to find layer mask?
  5. How to use layer mask?
  6. Why should you choose layer mask instead of the Eraser Tool?
  7. Shortcuts for and in the layer mask

Before I begin with the very first section, I want to show you an image where I hide the original background with the help of Quick Selection tool, Select and Mask, and Layer mask.

After

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Initial

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1. What is Layer Mask in Photoshop?

The layer mask controls the transparency of a layer.

It is only in shades of gray. 100% black means that the area is completely transparent. 0% Black (100% white) means that the area is completely opaque. Any value of gray between 0 – 100% black means the area is translucent. I’ll explain this thing later when I am going to show you how to use a layer mask.

2. How is a layer mask different from the opacity slider?

Opacity slider reduces the opacity of the entire layer. There’s no way you can isolate the area of which you want to reduce the opacity.

Let’s say I want to reduce the opacity of the parrot’s beak to 50%.

Here’s an example. I reduced the opacity to 50% and the entire image of parrot is now translucent. This is not what I intended to do.

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Now, I want to show you the result that I did with the layer mask. I’ll show you how I did it later.

Check the beak. Only it’s 50% opaque. Rest of the photo is 100% opaque. I did it with the help of layer mask.

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3. Minimum requirements of a layer mask.

If you go back to the original definition of layer mask that I wrote in section 1 which is that it controls the opacity of a layer.

So, a layer mask has to have a layer to work. Without a layer, layer mask will not have anything to the control the opacity of.

4. Where to find layer mask?

The layer mask is present at two locations. One is in the layer panel and another on the menu.

To use it, you need to make sure that the layer is unlocked first in the layer panel. Press F7 is you cannot see the layer panel.

If you see a lock icon next to a layer, it means that the layer is locked and you cannot do anything on this layer unless you unlock it.

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Click on the lock icon to unlock it.

Approach 1 for adding a layer mask

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All in the menu to add a layer mask.

Approach 2 for adding a layer mask

Open layer panel by pressing F7. Click on the icon which is enclosed with the yellow color to add a layer mask.

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Once layer mask is added, you will see a rectangular box next to the layer.

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5. How to use a layer mask in Photoshop?

The layer mask controls the opacity of a layer.

By now, you know that whenever you add a layer mask, you would see a white rectangular box next to the layer.

Now, let’s understand how to use a layer mask in Photoshop.

Whenever I brush the layer mask with black color, it will hide that part of the layer. Whenever I brush the layer mask with 40% black (a shade of gray) color, it reduces the transparency of that part by 40%. And, whenever I brush the layer with 100% white, it will make that part completely opaque.

Having some difficulty to digest? Read on…

5.1. How to Hide using layer mask?

First of all, I am going to select Black as my foreground color.

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I’ll brush the layer mask with the black color.

To make things easier for you to understand, I have already copied a layer below the parrot layer. This is the image that I am putting just below the parrot layer.

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I am going to grab the Brush tool from the tool panel.

Now, I am going to brush the layer with the black color.

I have brushed randomly and see what happened. I brushed randomly and that part is now hidden. You can the trees from the layer that is present in the below layer.

If you see layer panel, you will also see some black marks in the layer mask. That black mark means that that area is not hidden by the layer mask.

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I’ll give a few more examples.

This time I brushed on the right side with the black color. Did you notice what happened? The part where I brushed is now hidden and I can see what’s present in the layer just below to it.

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This time I am going to brush on the entire background. Let’s see what happens.

My entire background is now hidden. You can check my layer mask (I magnified it), you will see that the background is of black color and the parrot is of white color.

In a layer mask, Black means that part is hidden and white means that part is visible. So, you can now easily understand that the background is painted with black color and that’s why it’s hidden. Parrot is with a white color that’s why it’s visible.

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5.2. How to Reveal using layer mask?

Now, suppose I want to bring back my background. I will simply brush that part with white color.

Time to choose white color as my foreground color.

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I am going to paint the left side of the image with the white color. It will make that part visible again.

See below. I have brushed the left side with the white color and I can see the background again. If you see my layer mask, you can also see that the corresponding part is in white color.

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You see that how easily I brought the background back? I just brushed it with white color and it’s back.

So, working with layer mask makes your editing non-destructive. It means that you can go back at any point of time without worrying about what would happen to the rest of your image.

Now, what should I do to make the background partially visible?

I can simply reduce the opacity of the brush. In the toolbar of the brush tool, I am going to reduce the opacity to 40%.

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Here I go. I brushed the left side of the image with 40% of the white color. It means that the area is now 40% visible. You can also see that you can see a partially visible face. In the layer panel, you’ll see that area with a gray color.

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And yes, this also works the other way round. You can brush with the black color with 40% opacity. It will hide that layer by 40%.

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This is how you use a layer mask.

6. Why should you choose layer mask instead of the Eraser Tool?

Eraser tool erases destructively. You cannot go back in time except using History window, but that is so not recommended.

Let’s say that you erased a part of the image and then you made 13 other steps like toned the brightness, fixed the color, corrected the white balance. Now, you realize that you want to bring back what’s erased.

The only way to do it is to use History window (Windows > History)  and go back to that step. That’s good. But the problem is the 13 steps that you did after erasing will also be undone. You need to perform those 13 steps again.

For example, let’s say that I erased some part of the image with the Eraser tool.

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Now, I did several other things like adjusting the brightness, contrast, vibrance, etc.

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Now, I realized that I made some mistakes while erasing and I need to bring some part of the image back.

To fix this, the only way is to go to the History panel (Windows > History) and click on the step just before when I used the Eraser tool.

And yes, I have my image back. But you know what’s the downside? Whatever steps that I did after erasing (marked with yellow rectangle) are also gone. I need to manually redo those steps again. Things would have become even more complicated if I had performed 100+ steps after using the Eraser tool.

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Layer mask fixes this problem. It edits your image non-destructively. It means that you can go back in time at any point of time without worrying about other things.

If you have accidentally hide something by brushing it with the black color, you can unhide it by brushing the same area with the white color.

This is why I always use Layer Mask to hide something.

7. Shortcuts for and in the layer mask

There are few shortcuts for layer mask that will make your life easier.

A. A Layer Mask that will hide the entire layer by default.

Hold down Opt/Alt and click on the layer mask. It will hide the entire layer once it’s created.

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B. Disable the Layer Mask

Hold down Shift and click on the layer mask. It will disable it.

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C. To Actually See the Layer mask

You can actually see how it looks like. Hold down Opt/Alt and click on the layer mask.

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Your image will look like the below one. Here black part represents what is hidden and the white part represents what’s visible. Again, hold down Opt/Alt and click on the layer mask to go back to the original mode.

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D. To make a selection out of a layer mask

Hold down Cmd/Ctrl and click on the layer mask to make a selection out of a layer mask.

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This is all guys. Make sure that you get the most out of the below offer.