Photoshop Tutorial: Creating Layer Masks from Selections

Layer masks are essential tools in Adobe Photoshop for selectively applying adjustments, effects, and blending modes to specific areas of an image. By creating a layer mask from a selection, you can control the visibility of the underlying layers, enabling precise editing and creative compositing.

What You’ll Need

Making a Selection

  1. Open the image you want to edit.
  2. Choose the selection tool that best suits the object you want to isolate. Common selection tools include the Quick Selection Tool, Magic Wand Tool, Lasso Tool, and Pen Tool.
  3. Use the selected tool to outline the object you want to mask.

Creating a Layer Mask

  1. Once you have a selection, press Command+Option+R (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+R (Windows) to activate the Quick Mask Mode.
  2. In Quick Mask Mode, you can refine the selection using the Brush Tool, Eraser Tool, and other tools available in the Quick Mask Mode panel.
  3. To exit Quick Mask Mode, press Command+Option+Q (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+Q (Windows).
  4. Go to the Layers panel and click the “Add Mask” button (circle with a white circle inside) in the bottom right corner. This will create a layer mask based on your selection.

Using the Layer Mask

  1. To control the visibility of the masked area, paint with black on the layer mask. Black hides the underlying pixels, while white reveals them.
  2. Painting with gray tones creates a gradual blending effect. For example, painting with a 50% gray tone will partially hide the underlying pixels.

Adjusting Layer Mask Opacity

  1. To further control the visibility of the masked area, adjust the opacity of the layer mask. This can be done by sliding the opacity slider in the Layers panel.
  2. A lower opacity value will make the masked area more transparent, allowing more of the underlying layers to show through.

Combining Layer Masks

  1. You can apply multiple layer masks to the same layer to create complex masking effects.
  2. To create a mask that hides everything but the masked area, invert the mask by clicking the “Invert” button in the Layers panel.


Layer masks provide a powerful and versatile tool for selectively editing and compositing layers in Adobe Photoshop. By creating layer masks from selections, you can precisely control the visibility of underlying layers and achieve creative effects with ease. Embrace layer masks to enhance your editing workflow and bring your creative vision to life.