photoshop creative

Combine selections and masks

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
September 20, 2017

Get to grips with layer masks and create an incredible composition by blending different images

1. Select with colour range

Go to File>Open an image of a ferris wheel. Now go to Select>Color Range. In the dialog box, check the Localized Color Clusters box, choose the Grayscale Selection Preview. Grab the plus eyedropper and click to sample the blue colour around the sky.

2. Adjust the range settings

Adjust the Fuzziness to 30, Range to 100% and check Invert. If necessary, use the plus eyedropper to sample the blue colour again until you have a clean background or try different settings, then click OK. Now create a layer mask. Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.

3. Enhance the mask

Press Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect the image. Now, press Opt/Alt and click on the layer mask thumbnail. Grab the Dodge tool (O). In Options, set Range to Highlights and paint over the white areas. Grab the Burn tool, set Range to Shadows and paint the black areas. Save as a .png file.

4. Select and Mask command

Let’s mask another image. Open an image of a dinosaur. Now, go to Select>Select and Mask. In Properties, change the View Mode to Overlay and leave the Opacity at 50%. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) and select the dinosaur.

5. Clean up the edges

To clean up the edges, grab the Brush tool (B) and start painting the areas that are not properly selected. Press and hold Opt/Alt to toggle between Add to Selection or Subtract From Selection. Use the Global Refinements to adjust the image further, then click OK. Save as a .png file.

6. Use the Channels

Let’s mask the roller coaster. Press Cmd/Ctrl+O and open a roller coaster. Go to Window>Channels. In the Layers panel, right-click on the Blue channel and choose Duplicate Channel. Press Cmd/Ctrl+L to open the Levels and drag the Input sliders to create a high-contrast image and then hit OK.

7. Refine the mask

Grab the Polygonal Lasso tool (L), select the areas that need extra work and then fill with black. Also, use a hard brush (B) to refine the mask. Now hit Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert the mask. In the Channels panel, click RGB.

8. Create a mask

Press F7 to return to the Layers panel. Now, go to Select>Load Selection. In the dialog box open the Channels menu and choose Blue Copy, then click OK. Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection to create a layer mask and save the image as a .png file.

9. Make a sign

Press Cmd/Ctrl+N to start a new document. Set Width and Height to 1200 pixels, and Resolution to 300 pixels/inch. Add a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N) and grab the Lasso tool (L). Draw a rectangular selection and fill it with black.

10. Add depth

Keep the image selected and go to Layer>Layer Style>Bevel/Emboss. Choose style: Inner Bevel, Technique: Chisel Hard, Depth: 160%, Direction: Down, Size: 15 pixels, Soften: 0 pixels, Angle: -60o, Altitude: 25o, Shadow/Highlight Opacity around 75%. Click in Texture and choose a nice pattern, adjust the settings and click OK.

11. Insert text

Go to and download and install the new font. Type ‘Jurassic Island’ and apply the Bevel/ Emboss layer style. Choose the emboss style, Direction: Down and then tweak the settings to adjust the effect. Set the blending mode for the layer to Soft Light.

12. The columns

Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N). Grab the Lasso tool (L) and draw a column. Fill it with black and apply the Bevel/Emboss layer style. Tweak the settings to fine-tune the effect. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+J). Place the columns in each side and save as a .png file.

13. Set the stage

Now it’s time to create the island. Create a new document. Go to File>New or press Cmd/Ctrl+N. Name it ‘Jurassic Island’. Set Width to 230mm, Height: 180mm, Resolution: 300 pixel/inch and click OK.

14. Apply a gradient

Grab the Gradient tool (G). Open the Gradient Editor and set the first colour stop to #427897 and the second colour to #7da8c, click OK. In Options, choose the Radial Gradient. Place the mouse cursor at the centre of the canvas and then drag outward to apply the gradient.

15. Create the base

Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N). Name it Base and click OK. Grab the Elliptical Marquee tool (M) and draw an ellipse measuring around 60mm in height and 180mm in length. Fill it with black and then press Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect.

16. Place the terrain

Place some terrain. Now clip the layers, press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G. Move the image around to find the best angle. Open the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L). Click on the Preset menu and choose Increase Contrast 2 or set the Inputs to 20, 1.00, 235, then click OK.

17. Build the topography

Now it’s time to create some hills and valleys. Place a valley. Resize the image and press Return/Enter. Create a layer mask. Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. Grab a hard brush (B) and hide the sky and part of the landscape. Try to create some elevations.

18. Bring in more images

Add a waterfall. Resize the image and press Return/Enter. Add a layer mask and grab a soft brush (B). Hide the vegetation partially and the river, blending the images in a way to make the waterfall appear distant at the back.

19. Add more water

Place a lake. Resize and place on the hill in the foreground. Mask the image, leaving only the lake visible. Now place another waterfall. Resize and add a layer mask, then blend with the lake. Use the Free Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to adjust the angle.

20. Make a cliff

Place a rock. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) and select the rock. Add a layer mask. Go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal. Resize the image and place near the waterfall_2. Paint the mask to blend the images. Duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl+J), flip the image and place on the other side.

21. Place more images

Place an ocean’ Resize the image and add a layer mask. Use a soft brush (B) and start painting over the mask to blend the ocean image with the rocks and the river.

22. Add trees

Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N). Go to Filter>Render>Tree. Choose any tree type you like. Tweak the settings to customise the image and then click OK. Use Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) to increase the contrast and Hue/Saturation (Cmd/ Ctrl+U) to reduce the saturation.

23. Group layers

Place the trees into a group, press Cmd/Ctrl+G. Now duplicate the trees and create different types. Vary the size and add a layer mask, then distribute around the island. Create new trees with dense leaves and place on top of the Background layer to create the vegetation behind the hills.

24. Preset Manager

Open the Preset Manager to add new custom brushes. Add wave brushes and cloud brushes. Click Load, then press Done.

25. Apply custom brushes

Create a new layer on top of the Background layer. Name it Brushes. Grab the Brush tool (B) and press F5 to open the Brush panel. Choose a wave brush, reduce the size and using a white colour, paint the wave. In a new layer, paint the cloud.

26. Place more images

Let’s place the .png. images you created earlier. Place the dinosaur on top of the cliff, the Ferris Wheel and the roller coaster behind the trees and then transform the perspective of the sign and place near the lake.

27. Adjustment layers

Make a quick colour adjustment to each image. Click on the layer you want to make the adjustments to and then open the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L). Drag the Input sliders to increase the contrast. Use Hue/ Saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U) to adjust the Saturation or the Lightness.

28. Complete the composition

Find extra images to complete the composition. Place them over the canvas and use the techniques you’ve just learned to select and create masks. Resize and apply adjustments to enhance the images.

29. Create a snapshot

Create a new layer on the top of the layer stack. Press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+E to create a snapshot. Go to Layer>Smart Objects>Convert to Smart Object. Now go to Filter>Camera Raw filter. Tweak the settings to enhance the colours and also add more details by increasing the Clarity option. Click OK.