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Chapter 15. Collage > Shades of Gray

Shades of Gray

Photoshop treats a Layer Mask as if it were a grayscale document. That means that you can use any editing tool that is available to a grayscale image. Areas that are full of pure black will become transparent, pure white areas will become completely opaque, and areas that contain shades of gray will become partially transparent. Painting with 20% gray in a Layer Mask will hide 20% of the layer's opacity, leaving 80% of the layer visible. So using a painting tool with an Opacity setting of 80% will produce the same result as painting with 100% opacity and then adding a Layer Mask that is full of 20% gray.

You can view a Layer Mask as a color overlay (just like Quick Mask mode) by Shift-Option-clicking (Mac) or Shift-Alt-clicking (Windows) on the Layer Mask icon, or by just pressing \(backslash).

In Photoshop CS, when you copy a Layer Mask from one layer and apply it to another, be very precise in doing the following: Click on the layer to which you'd like to copy the mask to make it active. (Make sure that layer doesn't have a Layer Mask to begin with.) Next, click on the Layer Mask you'd like to copy (but be very careful not to release the mouse button just yet). Now drag it to the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and release the mouse button. That will copy the mask from the layer you dragged it from and apply it to the layer that was active at the time.



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