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by Wendi E. M. Scarth


Layer Masks
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Paint Shop Pro Tutorials by Wendi E. M. Scarth.
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Layer Masks Blending

Blend Images Using Layer Masks - Advanced
Written For Paint Shop Pro 7 8 9 X
Paint Shop Pro XI X2 X3 X4 X5
X6 X7 X8 X9 Photo (Ultimate) Students Should Follow X’s Instructions

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(Advanced Masking Example: Out Of Bounds MasterClass Tutorial).

This tutorial demonstrates how to blend two photographs using Layer Masks; to work along exactly, you are welcome to download the Cat and Dog images I am working with
Here.  Unzip the file and open the images onto Paint Shop Pro’s workspace.  When utilising your own images, choose them with care, and consider in advance their blending capabilities; for example, if you are blending faces, ensure the subjects are facing the same direction, and are of similar size and pixel tone - if your images are vastly different in size, they may need to be resized before the blending begins.  Although the principles of this tutorial are not difficult; you do require a basic understanding of Layer Masks - as explained in my notes below.

Images will always react uniquely; when blending your own, experiment with the settings mentioned in this tutorial - especially the Brush and Zoom sizes. As you work around your image, experiment with the Brush Opacity - and constantly alter it to suit your image’s blending needs.

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Understanding Layers On-line
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Masking Principles For Beginners -  Proceed To My Advanced Blending Lesson Here
When you create a Mask you are isolating part of an image: this means, you can change the isolated area (the cat’s eyes for example) either by applying filters, or by removing the area altogether.  The area outside the isolated area is Masked, and is therefore protected from change. In my example below left, I applied a Rectangular Selection Marquee around the cat’s eyes, I then applied the Desaturate filter: and as you can see, the filter has changed just the selected area. In my example below right, I pressed the Delete Key - and this removed the area inside the Selection Marquee.  This is Masking in its simplest form;- the Rectangular Marquee has Masked the outside area, subsequently protecting it from changes.


Now, if I were to Step Backwards - and apply the Selection Marquee around the cat’s eyes, then Invert it: when I apply the Desaturate filter - or press the Delete Key; the area outside the Selection Marquee is effected, and the area inside is protected (Masked).


Paint Masks Using The Paint Brush Tool
Masks are stored in Alpha Channels; and Mask Channels are Greyscale Raster images - as such, they can be edited like any other image. Areas painted with Solid Black are protected from changes, and are not editable, and areas painted Solid White are editable. 
Additionally, Masks contain pixels that can display 254 Shades Of Grey - (256 including Solid White and Solid Black); therefore, for varied opacity - apply shades of grey (as opposed to Solid Black or Solid White); this fades - or blends your images. The levels of grey correspond to levels of opacity, or masking.  Solid White pixels show underlying layers; Solid Black pixels hide underlying layers; and Grey pixels show varying amounts of underlying layers - the darker the grey, the more the underlying pixels are Masked, (hidden).

Painting With Black, White And 254 Shades Of Grey
There are different ways of Masking images: isolating areas with a selection marquee is one way, and applying Masks utilising the Paint Brush is another. However, this blending tutorial concentrates on using Layer Masks, which means we will be layering two images - the Cat and Dog images - adding a Layer Mask to the Dog Layer, and with the Brush Tool, we will remove the dog’s face, so revealing the cat from the underlying layer.
When completing this lesson the important points to remember are - Solid Black removes the Dog image, and Solid White brings it back. If you remove too much, don’t worry, you can quickly paint with Solid White to bring it back. (Remember, painting with Shades Of Grey removes, or applies pixels - depending on the grey’s intensity).

1/ Blend Two Images Tutorial
Open your start images onto Paint Shop Pro’s workspace.

PaintShop Pro X4, disable the Tabbed Documents setting prior to opening multiple images onto PaintShop Pro X4/X5/X6/X7/X8/X9’s workspace - As Demonstrated Here.

This tutorial is an introduction to Layer Masks; to keep things simple, I am working with two photographs; however, you can blend as many images as you wish; remember, any New Layer can be converted into a Mask Layer.

Copy and Paste the Dog image onto the Cat image - (as a New Layer), then delete the original Dog image. Your image and Layers Palette will now resemble the following. 




Set the Foreground and Background Colours to Solid Black and Solid White.


4/ Add A Mask Layer
Working on the top (Dog) Layer; from the top menu; Paint Shop Pro 7; choose Masks then choose New then choose Show All. A Mask Layer will be applied to the Dog Layer, and it will be represented by the following Mask icon; if you hover your cursor over the Mask icon, you will see the following Solid White rectangular pop-out image. Now, again from the top menu, choose Masks and this time, choose Edit

Your Colour Swatch will then change to the following Shades Of Grey.


Create A Mask Layer - Paint Shop Pro 8 9 X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 X6 X7 X8 X9 - working on the top (Dog) Layer: - from the top menu, choose Layers then choose New Mask Layer then choose Show All.

A Mask Layer will then be created, and your Layers and Materials Palettes will change to the following.


PaintShop Pro X4/X5/X6/X7/X8/X9
You can add a New Mask Layer by clicking the following New Mask Layer tab, found at the foot of the Layers Palette.

Now, from the subsequent drop-down menu, click Show All. As demonstrated below.


Congratulations, now you have created a Mask Layer, it’s time to load a suitable Paint Brush.

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Activate your Zoom Tool, and enlarge your image by left-clicking over it once for Paint Shop Pro 7 - and twice for Paint Shop Pro 8 9 X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 X6 X7 X8 X9.

(Right-clicking reduces the image’s size). 

From the left-side Tools Toolbar, activate the Paint Brush Tool.


And set the following Soft Round Brush attributes into the Tool Options Palette or
Ribbon. Note: The Brush Size is dependant on the image you are working with and the amount of Zoom you have chosen.

Paint Shop Pro 7


Paint Shop Pro 8 9 X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 X6 X7 X8 X9

Brush Notes
When applying your Brush; repeatedly left-clicking will intensify the effect; subsequently removing - or applying a greater depth of pixels. This type of blending works best when the effect is built up, slowly.

Remember! Solid Black removes the dog image, and Solid White brings it back!

Now you have loaded your Brush you are ready to paint with Solid Black. Therefore, ensuring the Foreground Colour is still Solid Black, and the Background is still Solid White, (and you are working on the Mask Layer), repeatedly left-click over the dog’s nose to remove the top layer’s pixels.

Because of the Mask Layer and the fact that you are painting with Solid Black; painting over the dog’s nose reveals the Cat Layer beneath it. This is represented by a black circle within the Mask Layer’s white rectangle - as demonstrated below.


Increasing or decreasing the Brush’s Opacity will either remove more or less pixels; for perfect blending, experiment with the Opacity setting.

Now, continue left-clicking and releasing the mouse button to remove more of the dog’s face - alternatively, left-click and hold - then sweep your cursor over its face in a continuous movement.  Experiment with both techniques to find the best one for you. At present, you are looking to reveal just the cat’s face beneath the dog’s and no more. After you have completed this, your image will resemble the following, and you are ready for the next step.


Notes - Swap The Foreground And Background Colours 
If you become over enthusiastic with your Paint Brush, or it suddenly develops a mind of its own and shoots off at an adverse angle - as shown below; simply swap the Foreground and Background Colours (by clicking the following Swap arrow - to make the Foreground Solid White).


Then paint with Solid White to paint back the dog’s face.


Alternatively, click the Undo Arrow and return your image to a previous state.

Continue to remove the dog’s face, working with either a Solid Black or Solid White Brush; when you have completed this, you are ready for the next step.

Remember! Solid Black removes the dog image, and Solid White brings it back!
Now, activate the Cat Layer - it will be the bottom (Background) Layer; then from the top menu, choose Layers then choose either Promote Background Layer or Promote To Layer, depending on your Paint Shop Pro version. Then click OK to the subsequent dialogue box - accepting the default settings. 


From the Tools Toolbar, activate the Deform/Deformation/Pick Tool, (depending on your Paint Shop Pro version). Clicking your version’s tool surrounds the Cat image with a large Vector Transformation Bounding Box.  Now, left-click and drag the Cat image upwards, and position it so it fills the erased dog’s face. (You must ensure you are working on the Cat layer).

Alternatively, reposition the Cat image using the Mover/Move Tool.

Resize your Cat image using the Vector Transformation Bounding Box, if necessary.

Paint Shop Pro 8 9 X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 X6 X7 X8 X9
, whilst either The Move Tool or Deform/Pick Tools are active; tap the Cat image into position - pixel-by-pixel, using your Keyboard’s Arrow keys.

After you have repositioned and resized the Cat image as necessary, you are ready for the next step.

Now, reactivate both the Mask Layer and the Paint Brush Tool.


And continue painting with Solid Black (or Solid White) depending on whether you are removing, or reapplying the Dog image; altering the Brush Size and its Opacity as

9/ Perfect Blending
When using Layer Masks; I find the best way to blend transition lines - as highlighted
below; is to significantly reduce the Opacity of the Paint Brush. Additionally, experiment with different
Blending Modes to see how they effect the blend. 

Now, continue altering the Brush Size; removing and reapplying the dog image as you work.

Applying the Soften/Retouch Tool (with a very low Opacity) can further blend your image.

An alternative blending technique is to change the Foreground Colour to a Shade Of Grey, and paint with various shades of grey - as explained back at the
start of this lesson here

10/ The Cat’s Whiskers
Removing the areas around and between the cat’s whiskers requires concentration, and technique.  For precision, Zoom into the image, until you can see the whiskers’ pixels - and ensure the full opacity of the cat’s whiskers have been revealed, (paint over them again with Solid Black - to bring them back, if necessary).  Now, ensure the Brush’s Opacity is
100%; and ensure the Foreground is Solid White; then reduce the Brush Size, and carefully remove the areas between - and close to the cat’s whiskers. Note: Reduce the Brush’s Size to 1 pixel if necessary.

Isolating the whiskers with a Selection Marquee, and changing the
Layer’s Blending Mode, may produce a better blend.

Remember, if you accidentally remove the whiskers; change the Foreground to Solid
, and paint them back in.


Preserve your Mask Layer (to edit at a later date) by saving your work as a
.PSP Image.

After you have removed the areas between the whiskers, and you are completely happy with your images’ blend - from the top menu, choose Layers then choose Merge All (Flatten). Now, finish by Cropping your images to one size,
then link here to learn how to save your work.  

Final Note
You can have lots of fun blending photographs; and depending on your choice of images, the process can be quick - or time consuming; the keys to success are practise and patience.

Wendi E M Scarth. 
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