Channels & Masks Video Lesson 7: “Introducing Layer Masks”

Well, after an exhausting week of filming the next dekePod video and launching our new audio podcast, it finally occurred to me that I owe you good dekeFolk a new video from Photoshop CS4 Channels and Masks One-on-One. It didn’t hurt that Deke called to say, “Hey, I thought you were going to post another video.”

In this episode, this tempting creature introduces you to layer masks and actually demos how one can use the new (CS4) Masks palette. Although y’all know by now Deke’s feelings — that the Masks palette is not essential to the task of creating and editing layer masks — it can nevertheless be quite helpful in this situation, permitting you to apply powerful selection functions, such as Color Range and Refine Edge, to layer masks as well as make temporary modifications. And the Masks palette happens to be exclusively applicable to layer masks, so that makes it a win-win for everybody.

Next entry:Bootleg Video: Why Is This Poncho-Clad Man Brandishing a Guitar on the Beach?

Previous entry:Martini Hour 001, In Which Colleen Spills Her Drink


  • I’ve grown to love the Masks palette

    I haven’t mastered it by any means, but I’ve warmed to it considerably.

    Thanks for the upload. It reminds me that I need to set aside some serious study time with and the beautiful book I now own. grin

    This post brought to you by Patti Smith, Dancing Barefoot.

  • Dekemeister, help!

    I only resort to asking a question here as a last resort (but what a resort this is).

    Here’s a capture of a problem:

    Stuck on cm

    In this image you can see my Image Size dialog box is stuck on cm even though my rulers are set to pixels. How can I change my Image Size setting to default on inches without changing the ruler units?

    On my other PC, it works like it should. Tried Adobe forums, no luck.


    Who is General Failure and why is he reading my hard drive?

  • Have you tried…

    ...right clicking on the rulers inside that particular image? (ctrl+r to show rulers) You can choose units there as well. Cheers,


  • Yes…

    ...but it makes no dif, the bug is still there.

    Besides, it’s not the rulers, they’re already set to pixels which is what I want. I just want the Image Size dialog box to change the default from cm to in.

  • Try switching your units

    Of measure, that is.

    To inches. Then restart Photoshop and check the Image Size dbox.

    If that fixed the problem, switch back to pixels. If not, sh*t self.

    Or let me know and I’ll investigate further. CS3, CS4? Might be worth doing the old Ctrl+Shift+Alt (Cmd-Shift-Opt) during startup to clear out prefs.

  • Covered in fecal matter…

    ...and not a cm closer to a solution.

    It switches when I change the units to inches. But if, after restarting CS4, I revert the rulers back to pixels, Image Size goes back to cm (abr. of crummy metric).

    Tried deleting the prefs file - no luck. I was even thinking of copying a prefs file from my other machine to this one (I’ll try that when I get back to my office). But I doubt that’ll do much.

    Off to the shower now or my wife will have a word with you for giving such advices.

    It’s PSCS4 on a Vista 64 home premium, btw.

    Thanks for looking this up; how can I ever repay you (ever got my gold fillings?)

  • Oh dear

    You might want to take two showers.

    Finding nothing online. Prefs file is not edit-friendly. (Can open in NotePad or the like, but I’m not finding much to work with.) Do me a favor, choose the Print command and tell me what the resolution value is saying (in the Scaled Print Size area).

    If you call tech support, which you may have to, pls report back.

  • I’m not sure I want to

    switch my units.  Oh wait, is this Photoshop we’re talking about??

  • Have you…

    checked Vistas regional settings? When I change mine from German to English(US) the image size dialog box defaults to inches instead of centimeters.

  • Fabulacious - 100% pure genius… should work for ACME! If I weren’t covered in poo, I’d give you a hug… Heck, lemme give you hug anyway (said with all the love one guy can give to another without the horse and the mountain).

    Regional settings did it - caught red handed and with a thong in a purse.

    See, I’m in Canada. That means we’re officially metric by executive decision. Only, no one ever bothered to tell us, the mindless minions, so we still scurry about our hectic lives oblivious of a centimeter.

    Whoops, pardon - here in Canada it’s spelled centimetre.

    Occasionally someone here will bump into a stray “centimeter” (I’m looking to get kicked out of the country, dontcha know), but since we can’t really see them we just stare into an empty half inch wondering what possibly could have caused such a hiccup in space-time continuum.

    Microsoft had other plans though. It planted the invisible centimeters into the operating system that are triggered by regional settings. Settings that are officially metric, even if in reality they don’t exist, just like the Hobbits, ET’s and southern democrats.

    But rest assured, there is cure. Right here at

    Thanks Fabulacious, you saved me a system restore.

  • Nice work, man

    Very well done. You bridged the gap.

    fabulacious earns the name!

  • Hug…

    accepted, if you don’t smell you ain’t no guy. But hold the applause, teh internetz did most of the work, I stumbled upon an older article that explained how Framemaker uses regional settings to determine its default units. Thought I’d give it a shot in PhoShop and voilà, inchness all over the place - glad it worked for you, too.

  • Man hugs?

    Inchness all over the place; possibly innuendo?

    This site is so gay! :-p

  • Pfft…

    you gals will never fully grasp the tacit yet strong common bond within the - of course strictly platonic - male liaison. I sense jealousy here! Anyways, as you have proven your qualities before I crafted you this fancy bar to conceal your shortcomings.


    If you wear it day and night, you are welcome to join the club. raspberry

  • We gals feel no jealousy

    ...we can fully grasp your tacit yet strong male liaison, and raise it with our shortcomings. With or without fancy bars lowered for concealment.

    But anyway, I like the stripes - they look dangerous. Therefore I shall wear it.

    Thankee. ;-p

  • Open GL enabled document windows

    Hi Deke,

          At the risk of exposing my amateur status as both a photoshop CS4 user and a blogger (this is my first), I have a question for you.  I have been working through, and enjoying, your Adobe Photoshop CS4 one-on-one.  I am now up to chapter 5 and when I try to do the exercise using Rotate View with the crop tool, I get the warning “Could not complete your request because it only works with Open GL enabled document windows” as soon as I try to drag in the window with the rotate tool which at that point looks like a zero with a slash mark.  I tried using a few of my own photos and got the same result, so I guess the problem is with my document window.  I faithfully put in your suggested settings at the beginning of the book.  Did I miss something and/or is there a way to make it so I can do the procedure with the Woman smiling file as well as my own?  I would appreciate any help you can give me!

  • It might be the limitations of your video card…


    What’s your system made up of - RAM? Video card? Processor? It might be a hardware issue rather than a software issue, but we need more info first. grin

  • Deke or Brian?

  • Deke is not Brian Wood

    Check it!

    Nothing much!

  • Brian’s not the Messiah

    He’s a very naughty boy!

  • Petra’s most likely nailed it

    Brian- try opening Photoshop preferences (cmd-K or ctrl-K) and checking the performance tab.  There should be a section for GPU settings and a checkbox for “Enable OpenGL Drawing.”  If you can, make sure the checkbox is enabled.  If the section is grayed out, hover over that section with your mouse.  You will see a dire warning that hardware accelleration is unavailable in the description box.  You will need to update your video driver or (most likely) your whole video card.

  • My geriatric beast

        Thank you to everyone for the tips.  We went to preferences and the “Enable OpenGL drawing” checkbox was grayed out, so we did auto-search and loaded an updated driver.  That didn’t work, so it looks like I might have a trip to Frye’s in my future (yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!) to get a new video card.  The beast’s vital statistics are as follows: 2 gigs RAM, 3.8 GHz processor and the video card is an ATI Radeon X600.  Any thoughts on what I should get to replace it?  Remember, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day so money is no object.

  • Any current model video card

    should support OpenGL rendering.  Remember however, that the purpose of PS handing-off the video-rendering to hardware is to make PS run faster and scale smoother vs. software rendering so more memory would be prefered.  Video cards are something that you can spend as much money as you want on smile (much like camera gear)

  • Here’s a list of Adobe tested cards

    (LOL@money no object/Valentine’s Day)

  • Ancient doorway.psd

    This photo for chapter 7, exercise “Employing a Knockout Mask” won’t open on my Vista machine inside photoshop. I get the message, “Could not complete your request because an unexpected end of file was encountered.”

    It also views as just a psd icon in Bridge.

    Any ideas I’ll take them. Knockouts are one of the kinds of masks I was particularly interested in learning.

    Thanks, Cris

  • Appears to be a problem

    Cris- I checked the O’Reilly website and its already been reported here:

    Unfortunately the site doesn’t list the date of the report.  I’m not quite as far as you in the book, but I tried to open the file this morning and got the same issue.  May be a manufacturing problem with the DVD.

  • Reply to problem with psd file

    Thanks for looking that up and finding the issue is with the file.

    It would be convenient if that file were made available here.

  • Channels & Masks Palette

    I have just received ther excellent CS4 Channels & Masks book and I’m trying to set up the Channels & Masks Palette on my Vista laptop. Having followed the set up instructions and accepted the T & Cs I get a message ‘You do not have appropriate permissions…...............’ you get the idea!

    What do I need to do!

    I am a private individual and I own the laptop I’m working on and it’s not connected to an outside network.

    Thanks for your help.

  • Avoid vista like the plague that it is!

    But seriously, I think it has something to do with the User Account Permissions settings.  Not being a vista user I can’t point you in a specific direction, but I recall someone more knowledgable than I addressing the issue elsewhere on this site.

  • I’m sure the incomparable Colleen will come to our aid

    Much like she did here with a prior problem.

  • Thank you Petra and Jeremy

          I really appreciate your help!  I am about to go to Fry’s armed with my list of Adobe tested video cards and my Valentine is even encouraging me to get the most memory that I can.  Yes, he is a keeper.  I must admit, however, that he seems thrilled with the prospect of visiting that store, so it may be more than love (for me anyway) being in the air…...

  • palette work-around in Vista

    First try disabling the User Account Control (UAC)

    Then you can try right clicking the file and select the security tab. Click the edit button and check the access boxes available for all the users listed.

  • As You Wish…JeremyV10

    (@Fake_Deke and I are apparently spending Valentine’s Day watching The Princess Bride.) I posted the file and assure you that heads will roll (or at least be asked to clean up their mess!)

  • watch out for the R.O.U.S.‘s

    I knew you would come through smile

  • Fun with Layer Masks

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