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Using Layers and Masks
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Christmas Collage Using Layers & Masks
Created by: ZooAtHome

 
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For this lesson, you will need some holiday images. There are some images available in the download file; however, you may use any images you like.
 
Open the files you chose for your Winter Holiday collage.
 
Create a new image, 400x200, black background, 16 million colors.
 
If the layer palette is not visible, press "L" to show it.
 
Click on one of your chosen images. Go to the layer palette, click on the background-layer button and drag it to the blank black image, then release the button. This will add the image to your new image as a new layer.

Repeat with the additional images until they are all added as new layers to the large image with the black background. Don't worry if the images overlap, we'll take care of that in a moment.

You may now close all but the new, multi-layered image.

 
Click on the Mover tool and move the various images where you want them. This tool works through all layers, so no need to change layers in the layer palette to move the different images.
 
If you need to resize one of the images, click on the appropriate layer button (if you pause the cursor over the layer buttons, it will display a thumbnail of the image on that layer).

Go to Image || Resize. Enter the new size settings, make sure "Resize All Layers" is unchecked, and click on OK.

Again, it's okay if portions of the images overlap.

 
Now we're going to use masks to blend our images. Click on the layer labelled "Background 1". Go to Masks || New || From Image:
Source window = This Window
Source Luminance = checked
Invert mask data = unchecked

The image you selected will probably darken when you add the mask. We will adjust this later.

Repeat this procedure for all layers except the bottom layer (the plain back background).

 
Click on the Airbrush tool and set as follows:
Shape = Round
Size = 20
Hardness = 40
Opacity = 75
Step = 25
Density = 75
 
Set both your styles to Solid Color (click on the arrow in the style boxes and choose the icon on the left), then click into the style boxes and set your foreground color to white and your background color to black. Your textures should both be set to None.
 
Click on any of the added images in the layer palette. Now go to Mask || Edit. This will allow you to alter your mask to determine which parts of that layer's image will show through.

Spray with white (left mouse button) over the portions of the layer you want to show through. Spray with black (right mouse button) over the parts you want hidden.

Switch to a different layer in your layer palette and repeat.
Note: every time you switch layers you need to go back to Masks || Edit in the menu bar. For some reason, it unchecks when you change layers.

If you forget to do this and accidentally spray white or black on the image, just go to Edit || Undo to get rid of it.

Do this for all layers. This can take awhile, especially if you're picky (*G*), so take your time.

 
Don't be afraid to adjust your brush tip settings to help you fine-tune your image.

Once you have adjusted the masks for all layers, go to Layers || Merge || Merge All to flatten the image.

(You may want to save in PSP format prior to flattening to preserve the layers. That way you can go back and make changes if you like.) Save the flattened image in your preferred format.