What Is Masking Photos and How to Do it in Adobe Photoshop

Last Updated on November 11, 2021 by Peter Wood

Masking photo is one of the severe technologies to change Photoshop and other photo editor software usage. However, many people do not understand this technology at all. This photo editing technique can help you to jump from the beginner level to a more advanced photographer. Therefore, this article will explain how masking photo works in Photoshop and how to help you perform non-destructive photo editing.

How to Mask Photos with Photoshop

Part 1: Why You Need to Mask Photos

Masking a photo is a process of graphic software to edit some portions of a picture and leave others. There are three main types of masking in Photoshop:

1. Layer Masking. This kind of photo masking can hide or reveal portions of an image so that you can change and edit various parts separately.

2. Clipping Mask. This type of photo masking can help you make one layer visibility or transparency using another layer.

3. Alpha Channel Masking. Compared to the two types of photo masking above, Alpha Channel Masking is a bit complicated. It uses the channel palate to enhance the contrast and then get the desired effect.

When it comes to the benefits of using photo masking, you can consider at least four aspects:

1. Non-destructive technique. As mentioned previously, you can edit and change photos with the mask layer without damaging the original layer.

2. Make editing an area of a photo easier. If you want to edit some portions of an image, like changing the color of an object, photo masking will make it simple. It can hide some parts and show others so that you can edit them separately.

3. Compare changes. Since photo masking won’t destory the original image, you can compare the photo before and after editing by hiding or showing the mask layer.

Remove background and collage. In the past, it is hard to remove background or make collages with objects on different photos. Photo masking allows you to simplify the workflow.

Part 2: How to Mask Photos with Photoshop

How to Use Layer Mask on Photo with Photoshop

Step 1: Open a photo in Photoshop and make sure to display the Layers panel. You can set it in the Window menu.

Photoshop Layer Mask Icon

Step 2: Locate the Layers panel, and click the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom. Then you will see a while layer mask thumbnail.

Step 3: Next, select the Brush tool from the toolbar. And you will see several options on the top ribbon. Click on the Brush Picker, and set the brush size and hardness.

Step 4: Make sure to change the foreground color to black. And paint over the image. The black color on the layer mask will conceal the mask layer.

Tip: If you want to reveal the layer mask, change the foreground color to white and paint on the photo.

Step 5: After applying photo masking, go to File -> Save As. Find a proper location and name the photo. If you want to edit it later, save it as PSD. Click on the Save button to export the image to your computer.

Photoshop Masking Tutorial Exporting

How to Use Clipping Mask on Photo in Photoshop

Step 1: Create a new file in Photoshop for masking photos and make sure to select Transparent from the Background Controls option. Create a shape, such as a circle, with the marquee tool and fill it with the black color.

Creating a Clipping Mask in Photoshop Creating a Shape

Step 2: Go to File -> Place Embedded and place your picture into Photoshop. It will be as a layer above the background layer.

Step 3: Right-click on the picture layer and choose Create Clipping Mask. Then you can crop the picture according to the shape.

Creating a Clipping Mask in Photoshop

Step 4: Change the size by pressing Ctrl + T. Then right-click on the layer and choose to Merge Visible.

Step 5: Next, edit the result and output it to your hard drive.

How to Use Alpha Channel Mask in Photoshop

Step 1: Open the photo that you want to edit with photo masking in Photoshop. Go with the Marquee tool and draw the path to remove the background from the image.

Step 2: Go to Select -> Modify -> Feather Selection on the top menu bar and set the Radius to 35 pixels.

Open the Photo with Photoshop

Step 3: Go to the Channels tab next to Layers. And you will see three channels, Red, Green, and Blue. Click on Save Selection as Channel and get a new channel.

Choose Blue from the Channel Photoshop

Step 4: Select the new channel. And other channels will turn off. Deselect the selection. Go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set the amount based on your photo.

Step 5: Head to Filter -> Brush Strokes -> Crosshatch and adjust it. Press Ctrl and select the new channel. And then press Ctrl + Shift + I to select inverse.

Step 6: Finally, save the result to your computer.

Recommend: Best Photo Editor: WidsMob Retoucher

To use photo masking, you’d better use a clean and clear photo. From this point, we recommend WidsMob Retoucher. Its main features include:

  1. Touch up photos with advanced technology.
  2. Protect photo quality automatically while editing.
  3. Support almost all photo formats include RAW files.
  4. Detect faces in selfies by AI and retouch portraits easily.
  5. Save perfect photos to a computer or share them on social media directly.

All in all, it is the best way to polish your photos before using photo masking in Photoshop.

Adjustment Retoucher Win Download Mac Download


Based on the sharing above, you should know what photo masking is and when and how to apply various photo masking in Photoshop. In addition, to edit a photo, masking is also an easy way to make photo collages in Photoshop. Before masking images, you should retouch them with WidsMob Retoucher. It is easy to use and can protect photo quality for editing further in Photoshop. We hope that our introduction, guide, and suggestion are helpful to you.