8/366: More advanced image editing with masks and layers using Photoforge2

Yesterday I learnt the basics of using masks and layers to selectively color a portion of my image while rendering the rest of the image black and white.

But the real power of masks and layers are they give you the flexibility to create really artistic photo by applying different adjustments or filters to each layer and combining objects from different photos into the one image. This is what I was keen to try….but I needed to learn to walk before running.

Today’s challenge was to combine two images into the one image using more advanced mask and layer skills using Photoforge2.

I’ve been participating in ashcroft54‘s photo app pimp challenge on Instagram so decided to combine her photo with one of my photos from our holiday.

You can check out all the different photos submitted for her ashcroft54_pimp4 challenge here. The participants are creating some amazing photos from her original photo and participating in these types of challenges are a great way of watching the different techniques people use. I found out about the challenge through my friend Developit who participates in a wide range of iphoneography challenges and competitions.

Here’s the two photo’s I used:

Original photos used

Here’s what the mask and layers looked like before creating my final image:

I adjusted the brightness/contrast, vibrance, exposure, white balance, sharpened, highlights/shadows and added a dreamy filter to both images after creating the mask to select the Yogurt factory from ashcroft54 original image.

Mask and layers used

After flattening the image I then imported it into Photogene2 to add a bit of dodge retouches. I also tried a bit of comic effects retouches.

Here’s the final version of the image I submitted for the challenge:

Final edit

However, part of me thinks the comic effects retouches is even more creative. Would love to know others’ thoughts?

Comic edit version

Fairly happy with my progress and definitely been a fun learning experience. If you would like to try it I would start with a basic mask and layering activity like I did in yesterday’s post followed by a more complicated one like today’s task.

7/366: Intro to using masks and layers using Photoforge2

Layers are a fundamental element of image editing. Layers let you create multiple copies of the same image, or introduce new images, and then enables you to edit each layer independently of each other.

You can apply different adjustments, filters and masks to each layer and add, delete, rearrange the stacking order (by dragging), then set different blend modes for each layer to change the appearance of the final version. Once finished layers can be merged down or flattened to create your new image. Layers gives you the flexibility to create really artistic photos; this is how you can combine objects from different photos into the one image.

My task today was to learn the basics of working with layers and masks using Photoforge2. I did this by following Photoforge2 layering and masking tutorial to selectively color a portion of my image while rendering the rest of the image black and white.

Here’s the before and after image:

Before and after

I’ve never worked much with layers or masks so doing basic layering following the Photoforge2 tutorial really helped me gain a good grasp of how these techniques could be applied to more complex image editing.

But first off what are mask layers? Basically everything behind the mask you create is not visible and everything else is visible except you can also choose how opaque it is (it’s level of visibility). Masks are used to add specific adjustments or effects to selective parts of your image or to add selected objects from another photo into your image.

The secret of Layer masks in Photoforge2 is it works the same as using Photoshop on your desktop: the color WHITE shows or reveals the image AND the color BLACK hides or masks the image.

Here’s what hidden and visible areas look like when working with a mask in Photoforge2:

Example of a mask in Photoforge 2

Here’s what the mask layer looks like when almost completed:

Mask layer

The Photoforge2 layering and masking tutorial is really good for learning these basic techniques but here’s some really important tips that aren’t covered in their tutorial that will help you:

1. Zooming in/out

Zooming in on the image when applying the mask is important for getting it right up to the edges of the area you want to select. You zoom in/out in Photoforge2 using the same two finger pinch you use with any app on an iPad or iPhone.

2. Lock your screen in Portrait orientation

It’s better to lock your screen to portrait orientation, especially when zooming in on the image, because any tilt that triggers it to change to landscape orientation and automatically zooms out the image.

How embarrassing — but I’ve never bothered to learn how lock my ipad2 in different orientations. You can read how to do it here.

Locking your screen

3. Adjust your brush size when zooming close to edge of image.

It’s the same concept as using Photoshop on your desktop. Initially you work with the larger brush size and then when you’re ready to go close to the edges of our image you adjust the brush size smaller for increased control.

Changing brush size

4. Purchase a stylus

If you’re planning to do a lot of work using masks than a good stylus pen provides more control and is better than using your finger. I left mine at home 🙁 They can be purchased from any shop that supplies iPhone/iPad accessories.

5. Switch between the colour black and white to add/remove mask when you make a mistake.

Remember the secret of Layer masks in Photoforge2 is it works the same as using Photoshop on your desktop: the color WHITE shows or reveals the image AND the color BLACK hides or masks the image.

Here’s how to change to black:

Change to black

Here’s how to change to white:

Changing to white

6. Remember you can use the history to revert

Don’t forget you can revert back to previous versions, at any time, using the history feature.

Here’s my completed edit:

It isn’t perfect but that’s cool as it achieved my goal of learning the basics! Now I’m off to try some more advanced layer skills.

Completed version