2007 SLP Curriculum Guide #07, Using Masks
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Masks are ways to either allow or disallow sections or portions of an image or photograph to be viewed. Thus, one can use masks to create interesting results, either in framing a photograph or presenting it in an unique fashion. In this guide we will just explore one technique for using masks that are located in your PSP program.


The basic technique for using the available masks located in one's PSP program is very simple and will be an effective way to enhance a photograph.
  1. Choose a photograph, then create a new top layer
  2. Flood Fill the top layer with a solid color (I use White)
  3. Then select Layers || Load/Save Mask || Load Mask From Disk (In PSP, Masks are located in the PSP/Masks folder. One can view these images with a PSPimages extension and one will see a white selection and a black area. The White selection defines what pixels will be viewed and the black area what pixels will not be seen when using a mask.)
  4. In the Masks Window, one has various options:
    • Mask: This box when opened with down arrow displays all the various masks from which one can choose.
    • Orientation: As a rule one should use 'Fit to Canvas' though experiment with the other options to see how they would appear.
    • Preview: This box shows a preview of the mask on the layer.
    • Create Mask From: As a rule one should use 'Source Luminance' though experiment with the other options as well.
    • Options: Check 'Invert Transparency" (By using a top white (or other colored) layer, this box needs to be checked in order to only block out the edges of the photograph or to show the center portions. If on uses the mask directly on a photograph then do not check this box.)
    • Then, Click on the LOAD Button
  5. In the LAYERS PALETTE make sure the layer 'Mask - Raster 2' is highlight, though it ought to be highlighted by Default.
    • Right Click on the layer to view the drop down menu.
    • Select and click on DELETE
    • A message window pops up 'Would you like this mask merged into the layer below it?
    • Click on the YES button
    • Then, highlight the 'Group - Layer 2' layer and again right click on that layer and select 'Ungroup Layers'
Now, your selected layer is set.


The original photograph used in an earlier guide with a purple cast original.
The original photograph used in an earlier guide that was enhanced from a purple cast original.
Using the steps outlined above on a white layer to create a mask. This mask suggests a ragged edged photograph.
Selected another mask from the list. This photograph is now interestingly centered. One could crop the edges some to reduce the amount of the white around the edges.
The final mask layer was enhanced first using a wood selection, then using an inner bevel to create a wooden frame. This technique will be described in another guide.
Another wood frame enhancement of the mask including using a sculpture selection as well as a texture and inner bevel. This technique also will be described in another guide.


Working with the masks on the drive following the above steps can be a lot of fun. Often when I use a mask, I can spend hours just trying one mask after another to find something I like for a particular photograph.

One technique I use is that after I have created the mask I do NOT use the Delete step. I use the UNDO (ctrl+Z) to try out another mask. When I find one I want to use, then I will Delete and Ungroup to fix the mask.

Often then I will work with the Mask layer and work with other enhancements such as the Inner Bevel to create a frame, or various selections to get a decorated mask. Sometimes I will use a drop shadow inside the mask edges (not always easy to do).

First, learn to use masks and then just explore other ways to work with them. Have fun.


  1. When completing a tutorial or series of tutorials, and having placed them upon your web page, post in the SLP Forum your completed work using this layout:
    • Name or Screen Name.
    • Web Site URL.
    • Version of PSP using.
    • List of Tutorials completed.
  2. Post your Work:
    • List what you did, feature, options used, values.
    • Indicate steps taken and results.
    • Indicate things you found interesting, worthwhile and any other comments.
  3. List some of the similarities you found between the Menu System, Palettes, and Keyboard shortcuts.
  4. Post any questions and comments in the SLP Forum.

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