Image masking is one of the basic photo editing operations. Background of an image can be removed or changed with the process of image masking. Image masking is a process that needs time. However, in experienced hands it can be done in a short time.
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Masking refers to the process of adding something to a specific part of an image or it can also be called as the method to make some parts invisible. One main advantage of masking is that the content is not lost. It is just invisible. You can make it visible again if you wish, and get very interesting visual effects.
There are 2 types of masking: Layer masking and image clipping masking. Even though they have similar concept, their applications are different.
Transparency of a layer is controlled by layer masking. With the layer mask, transparency of a specific portion of an image can be changed. You can lower the opacity if you need to change the full layer to its 30% visibility, or you can use it for a particular portion of the image.
When a layer mask is added to the image, a canvas of invisible grey scale covers the entire layer. You can paint black, white, or any other level of in-between grey on this canvas. Black means opacity of 0% and white means opacity of 100%.
Clipping mask does not use the monochromatic grayscale range as used in layer masking. In photo clipping mask, transparency of one layer is fixed depending on another layer.
In this case, two layers are stacked one above the other, and the transparency of the top layer is determined by the bottom layer. Instead of black and while shades, clipping mask uses the transparency of the bottom layer.
Masking technique may be a bit difficult for the beginners. So if you need to do some serious level of image masking, you better get the help of an experienced professional.