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Layer Masks or History Brush ?

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  • Layer Masks or History Brush ?

    A tip for retouching is using layer masks. For smoothing of skin, ect..ect.. Instead of using the history brush,use layer masks. Where you can control the amount of editing on the image.By painting on the layer mask with black and/or white. You can even use the opacity as well. You can go back to the layers to edit them. Unlike a snapshot(you lose your states after you close out the file). And can not save history states.

  • #2
    That's a great tip John. Thanks. I will try that from now on. It sure makes sense. I think we get used to using certain tools for certain tasks and don't think to try them for something new. It makes perfect sense and once I got used to layer masks I have been using them all the time but not for that specific task. Good one.


    • #3
      Here try this. Take the background layer. Make a copy of it.(right click your mouse> click duplicate copy. Do that three times. Take the first duplicate copy you made(first one) And apply a gaussian blur(your choice setting) To the first duplicate layer. Then change the layer to darken mode.
      Note: if you want to see the effect of the blur on the first duplicate layer, you have to click the eyeball (make the eyeball not show) on the second and third duplicate layers.

      Apply an adjustment curve to the first duplicate layer,go layer> adjustment layer>curves,and lighten the curve, just a little bit. At the midtone point........ BTW, I don't use levels anymore. But it can be done in levels using the midtone slider. On the second duplicate layer.
      Note: Click on the eyeball(make the eyeball appear) on the second duplicate layer.

      Apply a gaussian blur twice the amount you applied to the first duplicate layer. Then change the layer(second duplicate layer) to lighten mode. Again, apply a curve(or levels) adjustment layer to the second duplicate layer. And darken the second duplicate layer,a little bit. At the midtone point of the curve or midtone slider. The third duplicate copy just add a layer mask.
      Note: Click on the eyeball(make the eyeball appear) on the third duplicate layer)

      Go layer>add layer mask> you can go either way, hide all or reveal all(one will be either a black or a white layer mask). And paint on that layer mask(paint black if it's a white layer mask. Paint white,if it's a black layer mask).You can paint adjusting the opacity of the color (black or white) on the layer as well. Or even gray.

      This is where layer masks "have the power" over the history brush. Forget the history brush, it's History!

      Using the history brush. You can save your snapshots.

      To do this you have to save them as a seperate file(New Document). Just make sure you don't resize your original.
      Last edited by john_opitz; 03-23-2002, 10:20 PM.


      • #4
        I'm definately going to use that method. It makes sense and it's reversible. You can't beat that. Thanks again John. Hey that would have made a nice tutorial for this site.


        • #5
          The work around for saving snapshots for using the history brush is saving then as a seperate file. New document. The only thing is if you resize the working file(your original) you can't use that new document unless you resize it to the original.


          • #6
            Thanks for the tips John. I'm also a big fan of layer masks, and I can see where your tips would make things a little easier.



            • #7
              I'm truly befuddled....

              Please be gentle with me - I followed John's instructions for the layer mask (above) and ended up with many layers and then couldn't figure out what to do with them.

              I've been banging my head against my computer trying to figure out what you use a mask for after you've gone to all the trouble to make it?? I guess another way to state the question is: "what problem in photo retouching does a mask solve??"

              Your descriptions are always so eloquent, but I can't seem to put it to any use. What am I missing??

              I'm sure I'm not the only newby that is confused.

              Thanks for all your help. Don't get me wrong I've learned more in 3 weeks from this web site than I did in 6 months trying to learn from a book!



              • #8
                Thanks John,

                I had already started using Layer Masks, but only in a very limited way....

                Now I'm going to "practice" with your tip..
                I know it will make my life a lot easier...



                • #9
                  Hello winwintoo,

                  < "what problem in photo retouching does a mask solve??" >

                  Let's say(in my case. What I learned about the power of layer masks). An Art Director comes back to me and says: " John, I want less blurring or maybe a little more blurring on the picture, I don't know." I would say:, " no problem bay-bee. I'll do it both ways for you"! But deep down, I'm saying: "make up your mind, bonehead". So I just go to the layer mask in question and add or subtract from it by painting white or black or anything in between(gray).

                  I'm going to edit the instructions to my post so you can see the effect on every layer, when applying the blur. I know in the beginning it can be hard to understand with all the layers.


                  • #10
                    You have to excuse me for using the term "bonehead" in "Art Director". I don't mean this. Sometimes this happens at the studio as well as in my posts. I sometimes come down with Tourette's Disorder working with some people in the photography field, when the pressure is on. Again. I don't mean this.


                    • #11
                      Hi John,

                      I have to admit that I am also affected by sporadic bouts of "Tourette's Disorder" in my line of job....I am a translator and have a lot to do with people undecided about "how" but specially about "when"....




                      • #12
                        Hello Ms. Flora,

                        You can translate very good. (Noticed you were from Italy) Better than me, and I'm born in the U.S. here. The people in Texas here (I’m born and raised in New York/New Jersey area. Now live in Texas.) think (and say) that I have speech impairment......... A New York accent ...... In the U.S., here they have different accents in different parts of the U.S.
                        Example: In Texas they say: "Yawl".......... for "You all". In New York, they will say something like: "Yoo! How ya' dew' in!"... For... “You! How you doing!”. A woman from Germany (told me after she got to know me) said: Yes. When I first started talking to you. It was hard to understand you. I though you were talking with chewing gum in your mouth.


                        • #13
                          More Masking tips

                          Similar to what John Opitz suggested, I use layer masking for scratch and dust removal. The Dust & Scratches filter and Gaussian blur lose detail and film grain, so I came up with this (this is just a varient of a method from Katrin Eismann's book).

                          Duplicate the background layer. Set the blend mode to Darken (for light scratches; use Lighten for dark scratches and dust). Use Move to shift the duplicate layer a few pixels. It works best for me to move the layer at right angles to the direction of the scratch, that way the amount of the shift is minimized. Watch your scratch disappear as the other layer is moved. When the scratch is gone, or the shift gets to be more than 4-5 pixels stop and apply a layer mask to Hide All. Use a brush just larger than your scratch to paint white over the layer mask revealing the moved pixels underneath. The scratch is gone! (Well, hidden anyway).

                          I don't like to move too far, since I find that large moves often start to reveal other parts of the picture around the scratch. Just repeat the above procedure, except move the new layer the opposite direction from the first move.

                          While it increases the size of the file considerably it is non-destructive (unless you flatten) and very quick.



                          • #14
                            Hi John,

                            sorry, but I found very funny your comment about what is considered "your speech impairment"....

                            Well over here, in Italy, it's very much the same with all the different accents and dialects....

                            .... and I'm definitely going to try the "chewing gum approach" .... (it might be a big help for my "sporadic bouts of Tourette's Disorder"




                            • #15
                              Hello Mr. S,
                              That would be good for dust and scratches as well. I don't deal with scratches too much, but will use it on dust next time though.As far as adding to the file size. The new machines are running "stock", 256mb of ram and better video cards for screen redraw.


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