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Give your images a fresh point of view with creative masking

Added on Tuesday 23rd of January 2007 03:15 am EST
 

Application:

Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

 

Have you ever noticed that after a while the same old images you use for your ads, flyers and other marketing collateral seem blasé, and quite frankly, lose their punch? Before you use another straight-off-the-camera image, check out this technique where we’ll show you how easy it is to give your image a new appeal.

 

To spruce up a boring image, we’ll:

     Show you how to create the pattern we’ll use for the layer mask.

     Explain how to apply a patterned layer mask that will energize your imagery.

     Tell you how to customize and fine-tune the mask for a polished piece.

 

Every so often you’ll shoot an amazing photo that captures the essence of everything you want your final piece to stand for. But all those other times, your images and product shots need a little help. We’ll show you how—with a little creative masking—you can turn any regular photo into dynamic imagery, as shown in Figure A.

 

A

Pick a photo

Although no special criteria exists for this technique, a photo with a primary focal point, such as the one shown in Figure B, works best. If you want to follow along with our example, download the file dotty.zip from the URL listed at the beginning of this article and extract the file cool_lady.psd. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.) Then, launch Photoshop and open the file.

 

B

 

As you can see in our file, the imagery is on its own layer and the background layer is white. If you are using a different image, fill the background layer with whatever color you want to show through, and make sure your imagery is on the layer above it. Because we’ll be applying a mask to the image layer, it can’t be a locked background layer.

 

Make a pattern

First we’ll make a dot pattern to base the layer mask on. Note that the settings we use are for the low-resolution sample file. Experiment with different pixel dimensions for varying results.

 

To create a dot pattern:

1.       Create a new document, 25 pixels high by 25 pixels wide, 72 ppi, RGB, with a white background.

2.      Select the Ellipse tool from the Tools panel.

3.      Press D to set the foreground color to black.

4.      Select the Fill Pixels button on the Tool options bar.

5.      Press and hold [shift], and draw a circle in the center of your canvas, like the one shown in Figure C.

6.      Choose Edit > Define Pattern, enter a name in the New Pattern dialog box, and click OK.