Creating Masks

Masks, in short, are stencils. Masks allow you to blend one picture into another, just the same as "spray painting" with a stencil. Now there are a couple of rules about Masks. They must always be black and white. Any greyscale image can become a mask. Black, in a Mask, will be transparent when applied to layers, and white will become the color of the uppermost layer.

First we will make a mask. Open a New Image. For this tutorial we will use the following dimensions:

300 x 300 pixels or 4 x 4 inches
Resolution: 72
Image characteristics: Raster Layer
Color depth: 16 million
White background

Select the Flood Fill Tool. Set your Foreground Color to Black and flood fill your image. Your color palette should look like the picture below:

Click on the Selection Tool and apply the following settings:

Selection Type = Ellipse
Feather = 10
Antialias = Uncheck

Draw an Ellipse shape on your image. This might take you several attempts to get the right look. If you ellipse is not centered, simply deselect the image (CTRL + D) and try it again. When you get the ellipse the way you want it, hit the "Delete Key." You should now have a mask that looks similar to the one below depending on which way you want your eclipse to span:

Deselect the image. Save the mask. I will call my file myfirstmask.

Open up an image you would use. Anything will do, I am going to use the picture below:

To activate the mask you must activate the picture you want to apply the mask to, My picture is the three puppies above. To activate the image simply click on it. To apply the mask, click on Layer || New Mask Layer || From Image. The Auto Actions dialog box will open prompting you to promote the target to a full layer. Click OK.

This will open the Add Mask From Image dialog box. You will need to select the mask file you saved. My file was named myfirstmask. Check Source Luminance, then click OK

Your picture should resemble the masked picture below:

If you want the transparent hole in the middle, and the outer to contain the image, check Layers || Invert Mask/Adjustment. The picture should resemble the one below:

Saving Masks
Paint Shop Pro automatically saves mask layers in .PspImage format. When you want to share a mask with others, or use a mask in another image, save the mask to your hard drive or to an alpha channel.

Saving Masks to Disk
When you save a mask to a hard disk or a removable disk, Paint Shop Pro saves the mask as a separate file with a .PspMask extension. You can then load this mask into other images without opening the original image.

To save a mask to disk:

On the Layer palette, click the name of the mask layer.

Choose Layers > Load/Save Mask > Save Mask to Disk to open the Save Mask To Disk dialog.
The Mask files group box displays the current masks in the default Masks directory. The New mask group box displays the current mask.

To change the folder where the mask file is saved, click the Edit Paths button. By default, mask files are stored in the Masks folder of the Paint Shop Pro program folder. For more information, see Setting File Locations.

In the File name edit box, type a name for the mask file.

Click Save. Paint Shop Pro saves the mask file.

Saving Masks to Alpha Channels
Save a mask to an alpha channel within the current image or within another image. An alpha channel is a data storage area in an image which stores masks and selections. Alpha channels are like secret compartments within a suitcase—use them to store things you may need later. Masks and selections stored in alpha channels have no effect on the look of an image. To use the stored masks or selections, load them into the same image or another image.

For information on saving or loading selections in alpha channels, see Saving Selections to Alpha Channels.

When you save the image to a file format other than .PspImage format, the alpha channels are not saved. Always keep a master copy of your image in .PspImage format.

To save a mask to an alpha channel:

On the Layer palette, click the name of the mask layer.

Choose Layers > Load/Save Mask > Save Mask To Alpha Channel to open the Save Mask to Alpha dialog.
The Add to document drop-down list displays all open documents and below it are the alpha channels in the image (if any).

To save a mask to another image’s alpha channel, select the image name in the Add to document drop-down list. The image must be open in Paint Shop Pro.

To edit the default name for the new alpha channel, type a new name in the Name group box.

Click Save. Paint Shop Pro saves the mask to an alpha channel.

You can see the possibilites of this activity. This could actually be saved as a picture frame and used later in framing your photos.