Masks: Image as Mask

This is a very basic tutorial on masks in PSP8, using an image as the source of the mask. I'll use an image of a white tiger as an example:

For your own mask, any high-contrast image with a simple background will do nicely.

  1. Start by opening the image that you want to use as the basis of your mask.

  2. Then open a new 16 million color (24 bit) raster image, choose 'Raster Background', be sure that 'Transparent' is unchecked, and pick a background color by clicking on the Color box and choosing a color in the Material dialog. (A shade of purple is used in my example.)

    Click OK to exit the Material dialog, and click OK again to open your new image.

  3. Create a new layer in the new image by clicking the New Raster Layer button  in the upper left corner of the Layers palette. (If the Layers palette isn't showing, hit the F8 key.)

    The new layer, named Layer1 by default, will be entirely transparent.

  4. With Raster1 the active layer, choose Layers > New Mask Layer > From Image. For 'Source window', choose the file ID of the image that you want for the basis of your mask. Be sure that 'Source luminance' is selected under 'Create mask from'.

    When you click OK, your mask is applied to Raster1. You won't see any change in your image, but you'll notice a new layer group in the Layers palette. This new layer group includes the mask layer and Raster1.

  5. Select the Airbrush tool, and in the Tool Options palette set Shape to Round, Size to 40, Hardness to 25, Step to 1, Density to 30, and Opacity to 10. (You'll want to experiment to see what works best for your particular image.) Next, set the Foreground color in the Materials palette to whatever color you'd like to use as your paint. (I chose white.) Then click the Layer button on the Layers palette for Raster1 to make it the active layer:

    In the image canvas, spray your Foreground color across the masked areas where you want that color. Try to let the color fade out by spraying only lightly at the edges.

    Used this way, a mask is like a stencil or silk screen. Masked areas of the layer will resist paint and unmasked areas will accept paint.

  6. You can then save the file. If you save the file in a format that supports layers (PSP or PSD), the layers and the mask will be preserved. If you save in another format, such as GIF or JPEG, all of the layers will be merged together.

    Here's my final GIF version:

Note that masks stretch or shrink to fit any image to which they are applied. Did you notice that in my example the tiger's head was flattened and stretched horizontally? Here's the result of using the same mask on two other images, each with different dimensions from those of my original example: