Tutorial: Introduction to Masking in Photoshop CC

Masking in Photoshop is a great way to integrate two images together without causing any damage that can be made by using the eraser or clone tool. In this tutorial, we are going to turn these two photos:

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

into this image:

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

Now the Photoshop purists will no doubt pick this image to pieces, especially surrounding the foundations of realistic lighting and shadows. However the purpose of this tutorial is to inspire others to try masking and feel confident in playing with this particular Photoshop feature. Further, you have to remember that realism is truly relative when it comes to dogs wearing suits.

To begin we’re going to open both files in Photoshop and then you’re going to drag the dog over and onto the photo of the business man. You can do this by choosing the move tool and dragging the image across. Alternatively you can go CMD+A (or Control+A on a PC) to Select All, CMD+C to copy and then going CMD+P to paste on the businessman.

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

You’ll notice that the dog’s head is considerably larger than the business man and we want to try and match it as much as possible to make a “realistic” image. On the right is the two layers that make up this Photoshop document. Choose Layer 1 which is the dog and then slide the Opacity down to approximately 50%. The dog will now be semi transparent.

Then, using your Move Tool (V) overlay the dog’s face onto the business man so the chins line up.

Go to Edit > Free Transform and you’ll have the option to scale the image down. (Keyboard shortcut CMD+T).

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

Make sure your lock is checked (as indicated) so that your image keeps its proportions and use the scale points to reduce the dog’s face down to the same size as the business man. Make sure you’ve left enough neck to fit in the shirt and when you’re happy with the size press the tick at the top.

Then go over to your layer palette and change the opacity back to 100%.

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

Next I’m going to Frankenstein the dog into the suit by removing the head of the business man. To do this I choose the background layer, right click and choose Duplicate layer (or keyboard shortcut CMD+J).

You want to duplicate the layer in case you make a mistake and need to go back to the original business man image.

Then hide the layer with the dog by pressing on the eye next to that layer.

Then choose the layer directly underneath the dog, this is the duplicate layer you just created.

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

Choose the Clone tool (S) and start removing the head from the top down. You want to leave a little bit of the neck for reference but the rest can go. The cloning where the face was doesn’t have to be perfect as your dog’s face will cover it. However it is worth noting that I have a relatively simple background and if yours is more complicated than this you’ll need to consider using blurring and patterns to complete the look.

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

Make the layer with the dog visible again and zoom in so the picture of the dog fits on the screen.

Choose the dog layer.

Choose the Magnetic Lasso (L) which can be found by pressing the lasso tool and locating it in the sub menu.

Start at the tip of the left ear and begin tracing around the dog. Don’t worry if its not perfectly outlined, you will fix this in the masking process. For my dog, I chose to include extra neck and shoulders because of the stocky breed.

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

Once you have completed your lasso, make sure your foreground colour is set to black and your background colour is set to white. Then press the Vector Mask button.

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

You’ll see its not perfect but its taking shape.

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

Choose your brush tool and making sure you’ve selected the layer mask start painting out all the parts that don’t belong along the sides of the face an the neck. If shave a little too much off, simply switch your foreground colour with the background and paint it back in. Try using a brush with a softer edge as it will blend nicer with the background.

To finish off my executive doggo I cropped the overall image and added text to turn it into a fragrance ad.

– woof!

The Woof Suit - Introduction to masking in PhotoShop CC - tutorial by ellenburrow.com

This is just one method of using masking to merge two images together. I encourage you to experiment and over time you’ll find techniques that work for you and your confidence in using Photoshop will only increase.

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Till next time – have a good one!

Ell.