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Using Photo Masks in Photoshop

September 23, 2009

I’ve had requests from a few of you asking how to use my Sanded Photo Masks. Below is the process I use to incorporate them into a page. The screen shots and directions are written for PSCS3, but should also apply to PSCS2 and most versions of PSE.

Open a layout (or a blank canvas) and open a photo mask.

With the move tool active, click on the photo mask and drag it onto your layout canvas.

Open a photo and click and drag it onto the layout canvas. Position it on top of the photo mask.

Go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask, or keystroke Shift+Ctrl+G to ‘clip’ the photo to your photo mask.

With your move tool active, you should see a dotted line and 8 small boxes around the perimeter of your photo. Move and/or resize your photo until the portion you want is visible in the photo mask. For detailed instructions on moving and resizing review the Creating Your First Page in PSE tutorial.

At this point you have applied the photo mask. In my case, some of the distressed areas of the mask cut out too much of my son’s face. You can ‘fill in’ areas of a mask by using a brush on the mask itself.

Optional: Select the photo mask layer from the layers palette. Select the brush tool from the tools palette and choose a round brush.

Click and drag on your canvas any areas in which you want to ‘fill in’ more photo (in my case, I’ve filled in around my son’s face).

Right click on the photo layer in the layers palette and select Merge Down from the drop down menu.

The photo mask portion is complete. Here is my finished page.

Credits: Background Papers from Deckle Edge Papers, other papers, crab and waves from the Going Places Collection, buttons from ABC and 123, alpha from Cheery Glen, straight stitching from First Glimpse, messy stitches from Bad Sewing Machine IV by Traci Reed, journaling font DJB Emilys

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Joyce permalink
    October 4, 2009 4:54 pm

    I have heard about these masks and have seen some tips in using them but not so simple, direct and easy to follow as these. Misty, thank you so much.

  2. January 5, 2011 11:32 am

    Thanks for sharing this Wonderful tutorial! =] Was wondering if you could make one showing us how to make the Masks?

  3. Anne permalink
    December 6, 2011 1:29 am


    I remembered that you have an old tutorial like this wherein the picture is your son sleeping on the couch. I could not remember how you cut the pictures into three sections before masking it.

    This tutorial is really great and so are you.


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