Magic Wand – Create a Custom Mask

with 16 Comments

Barb BrookbankOnce you try this simple method to create a mask, you will soon be looking at all your papers in quite a different light. You will see all sorts of possibilities in the pixels. Where is the mask hiding this time? Or, maybe there’s an overlay, or a grunge brush in here somewhere…

Sometimes there will be a clipping mask in a kit which works fabulously to attain an artsy look, but not so much for a photo — there just aren’t enough pixels. So, I also use this technique if I find a mask that is not quite solid enough for the photo I’m using.

Here’s a quick overview of what we’re going for:

Tutorial:

For Adobe Photoshop Version click here.

Step One: Open a Paper and Select the Pixels

  • Open a background paper (File > Open) that is mostly solid with some definite color variations. I am using paper2 from the kit “Thankfully” by Krystal Hartley.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose File > Duplicate and click OK. Close the original file.
  • Get the Magic Wand tool.
  • In the Options Bar, click on the New Selection icon, set Tolerance to around 30, and uncheck Contiguous.
  • On the paper, click on an area to select some pixels. If you do not get a good result (not enough pixels) set the Tolerance higher. If you are getting too many pixels, set the Tolerance lower.
  • You will see some marching ants around the selected pixels.

Step Two: Prepare the Pixels

  • Press Ctrl J (Mac: Cmd J) to Copy the selection to a new layer.
  • In the Layers panel, click on the background paper to activate it and drag it to the Trash.
  • Press the letter D to set the Color Chips to the Default of black and white.
  • Press Alt Shift Backspace (Mac: Opt Shift Delete) to Fill the pixels with black.
  • Get the Eraser tool.
  • In the Options Bar, choose a soft round brush and set the size to about 300px. Make sure the Opacity is set to 100%.
  • On the document, erase around the edges of the page to remove stray pixels.

 

 Step Three: Create and Save the Mask

  • Press Ctrl J (Mac: Cmd J) to Copy the pixels to a new layer.
  • Choose Image > Rotate > Layer 180°.
  • Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) to Merge the two layers.
  • Press Ctrl J (Mac: Cmd J) to Copy the pixels to a new layer.
  • Choose Image > Rotate > Layer 90° Left.
  • Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) to Merge the two layers.
  • Continue to do this and keep in mind that you can rotate any direction you like. Just remember: Copy, Rotate, Merge, Repeat. Keep going until you are happy with the final mask.

Step Four: Save As a PNG File

  • In the Layers panel, Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) on the thumbnail of the mask to select it. You should see marching ants around the mask.
  • Choose Image > Crop.
  • Press Ctrl D (Mac: Cmd D) to Deselect.
  • Save the mask (File > Save As) as a PNG file with a descriptive name such as “Custom Mask – pp2 Thankfully – Krystal Hartley”. When the PNG dialog box pops up, choose None for Interlace and click OK.

Use as a clipping mask on your next scrapbook page. Not sure what a Clipping Mask is or how to use it? Check out these videos: What is a Clipping Mask? and How Do I Clip a Photo to a Photo Clipping Mask Layer?

Have fun with this!

Credits:
Digi Scrap Tutorial: Magic Wand – Create a Custom Mask 
Layout: “Sisters” by Barb Brookbank
Kits: Thankfully by Krystal Hartley (Mask), All About Me by Amanda Taylor (Layout) previously available to Premier Members October 2011
Fonts: DJB My Mood Ring Says Blah by Darcy Baldwin, and Susie’s Hand
Poem: Christina G. Rossetti
Software: Photoshop Elements 10

Download a PDF version of this “Magic Wand – Create a Custom Mask” tutorial.

Windows: Right click on the link and choose “Save Link As” or a similar command.
Mac: Click on the link to download the file.

Step One: Open a Paper and Select the Pixels

  • Open a background paper (File > Open) that is mostly solid with some definite color variations. I am using paper2 from the kit “Thankfully” by Krystal Hartley.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose Image > Duplicate and click OK. Close the original file.
  • Get the Magic Wand tool.
  • In the Options Bar, click on the New Selection icon, set Tolerance to around 30, and uncheck Contiguous.
  • On the paper, click on an area to select some pixels. If you do not get a good result (not enough pixels) set the Tolerance higher. If you are getting too many pixels, set the Tolerance lower.
  • You will see some marching ants around the selected pixels.

Step Two: Prepare the Pixels

  • Press Ctrl J (Mac: Cmd J) to duplicate the selection to a new layer.
  • In the Layers panel, click on the Background paper layer and drag it to the Trash.
  • Press the letter D to set the Color Chips to the default of black and white.
  • Press Alt Shift Backspace (Mac: Opt Shift Delete) to Fill the pixels with black.
  • Get the Eraser tool.
  • In the Options Bar, choose a soft round brush and set the size to about 300px. Set the Mode to Normal and make sure the Opacity is set to 100%.
  • On the document, erase around the edges of the page to remove stray pixels.

 

Step Three: Create and Save the Mask

  • Press Ctrl J (Mac: Cmd J) to Copy the pixels to a new layer.
  • Choose Edit > Transform > Rotate 180°.
  • Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) to Merge the two layers.
  • Press Ctrl J (Mac: Cmd J) to Copy the pixels to a new layer.
  • Choose Edit > Transform > Rotate 90° CW.
  • Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) to Merge the two layers.
  • Continue to do this and keep in mind that you can rotate any direction you like. Just remember: Copy, Rotate, Merge, Repeat. Keep going until you are happy with the final mask.

Step Four: Save As a PNG File

  • In the Layers panel, Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) on the thumbnail of the mask to select it. You should see marching ants around the mask.
  • Choose Image > Crop.
  • Press Ctrl D (Mac: Cmd D) to Deselect.
  • Save the mask (File > Save As) as a PNG file with a descriptive name such as “Custom Mask – pp2 Thankfully – Krystal Hartley”. When the PNG dialogue box pops up, choose None for Interlace and click OK.

Use as a clipping mask on your next scrapbook page. Not sure what a Clipping Mask is or how to use it? Check out these videos: What is a Clipping Mask? and How Do I Clip a Photo to a Photo Clipping Mask Layer?

Have fun with this one!

Credits:
Digi Scrap Tutorial: Magic Wand – Create a Custom Mask 
Layout: “Sisters” by Barb Brookbank
Kits: Thankfully by Krystal Hartley (Mask), All About Me by Amanda Taylor (Layout) previously available to Premier Members October 2011
Fonts: DJB My Mood Ring Says Blah by Darcy Baldwin, and Susie’s Hand
Poem: Christina G. Rossetti
Software: Photoshop CS5

Download a PDF version of this “Magic Wand – Create a Custom Mask” tutorial.

Windows: Right click on the link and choose “Save Link As” or a similar command.
Mac: Click on the link to download the file.

16 Responses

  1. Minjo McKinny
    | Reply

    If I had been ask to pick a How to that I really wanted to learn, this is it. I have tried doing this on my own but never quite “got it”. So I am so pleased with this. I shall spend some of today playing with mask fixings. Digital scrapper has been keeping me busy lately, I also love the wordart daily lessons. Minjo

  2. Geri
    | Reply

    Who would have thought! Thanks for the info.

  3. jomama
    | Reply

    I have recently discovered Digital Scrapper and I have to say it’s become one of my favorite sites. As a new convert from PSP to PSE it’s been a challenge to start all over and rethink everything I thought I knew. However, masks have always been a stumbling block. Can’t wait to work with this. I am also enjoying the wordart daily lessons. Thank you so much.

  4. Natalie
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for this information. I have been wanting to learn to do and now I can!!

  5. Jenifer Juris
    | Reply

    This is great!! Thanks for an awesome tutorial!! 🙂

  6. CynD
    | Reply

    Oh my goodness, what an awesome tutorial and so easy too. Off to go practice. Thank you.

  7. Peggy Merton
    | Reply

    Thanks so much! Great tutorial, I will be trying this tonight!

  8. roseb
    | Reply

    Wow! What a creative mind in that pretty head! Thanks for another great idea!

  9. Sharron
    | Reply

    Wonderful! Thanks so much for this tutorial.

  10. Sandy H
    | Reply

    Thanks, Jen, for all your tutorials. I had taken a formal PSE class, but didn’t really ‘get’ so many things. Your explanations are so easy to follow.
    Now, to just have more TIME to play with all the awesome techniques and ideas!
    Sandy

  11. Renee Diprose
    | Reply

    Ohhhh….I have been wanting to know how to do this for so long!!!!!! You make it so easy to follow along! Thanks so much Barb :):):)

  12. doris edgar
    | Reply

    What did minjo mean about the daily word art lessons.

    i want to thank you for this tutorial

    doris edgar

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Doris. I believe what Minjo was referring to is the free “20 Terrific Type Tutorials” class that was offered to all newsletter subscribers. If you’ve not signed up, you can do so HERE. 🙂

  13. Ann Field
    | Reply

    THANK YOU! I am just getting around to using this great tutorial. Had a wonderful time yesterday using it.

  14. Dennis Sharp
    | Reply

    I am having a problem with Create a Custom Mask. I use PS6 and followed the instructions for photoshop, but when I use it I just get a black mask on my paper. The photo does not show through. I clip it like the instruction say to do, but no such luck. It looks like it would be just what I am looking for. Can you help me.

    • Barb Brookbank
      | Reply

      Hi Dennis, sorry for the trouble you are having. In Step Two (second bullet) we found what might have been your problem. The original tutorial said to press the Backspace key. The Backspace key does not work as expected in some instances so we changed the tutorial to read “drag the layer to the trash”. Please let me know if this helps!

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