How to Blend a Mask Into the Background in Photoshop


Photoshop is useful for creating complex images from layered photos or artwork. These individual layers are created through masks. Masks are created by selectively removing unwanted portions of an individual image layer so that other layers can be revealed above or beneath the selected layer. Using masks and multiple image layers, Photoshop can create complex visual effects. The quality of the final image depends on the ability to blend masks so they appear to flow seamlessly from one image element to another.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Photoshop CS4
  • Open Photoshop and import two images. The first image will be your background. The second image will be used to create your mask.

  • Select the Lasso tool by pressing the “L” key and use the tool to outline the object in the image you want to use for the mask. Select “Edit” and “Cut” from the menu.

  • Select background image and click “Edit” and “Paste” from the menu to create a new mask layer in the background image.

  • Select the Zoom tool by pressing “Z” on your keyboard and zoom into the edge of the matte layer. You should be zoomed in far enough to discern the individual pixels on the edge of the matte.

  • Select “Layer” then “Matting” from the menu. Your next selection from the sub-menu will depend on what you observe in the quality of your mask. If the pixels appear jagged, select “Defringe” from the sub-menu. Enter a pixel width of “3” to begin with. The edge of the mask should become smoother. Otherwise, if your mask is outlined with a few black or white pixels from the background matte of the mask image, select “Remove Black Matte” or “Remove White Matte” accordingly. The matte outline should then disappear.

  • Choose the Eraser tool by pressing “E” on your keyboard to further blend the mask edges. Using the Eraser tool, you can eliminate stray pixels from the original mask or soften the edges of the mask. Adjust the eraser properties using the tool menu beneath the main menu. Select a soft, round brush style for blending, hard style for pixel removal. Adjust the opacity and flow controls to further refine the blending effect. Decreasing opacity or flow will produce a more subtle blending effect. Once you have settled on the most effective settings for the Eraser tool, use the tool to smooth and blend your mask border.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use the feather controls in Photoshop when creating your mask. Feather provides a gradated effect that can, depending on the feather width you select, dramatically soften the mask edges. Take care the gradated outline does not include the background, or mask clean up will become more difficult.

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  • Photo Credit Ciaran Griffin/Lifesize/Getty Images
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