Technique Thursday - Masks and drop shadows & a little bit more

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Hi everyone!  Are you there?  >tapping on my screen… knock knock<  :)
ok… now that I have your attention, grab your drink of the day, mine is an ice coffee… what did you expect from a girl who lives in a hot desert? LOL  Let's get started with a little trick I learned a year or so ago that has become invaluable not only as a designer, but as a scrapper.

Today we are going to look at using a layer mask as a non-distructive way of tucking something behind something else.  This could be used for a paper clip or anything… I'm going to show it using a swirl from my Inspired kit and some word strips from Inspired 2 Add-On (to be released tomorrow Oct 8th.)
  • Start a new file 12x12 300ppi.
  • Drag in your background paper.. well… mine is my canvas background from Inspired 2. 
  • Drag in the paper swirl.   I wanted a different paper for this layout so I dragged in one of the other papers on top of my swirl layer. The first thing I did was clip the paper to the swirl (now you know why I didn't put a drop shadow on that swirl?).  This makes it more universal for you in your stash.  
  • Holding my alt key, I clicked between the two layers.  Now right click on the clipped paper to merge down into your swirl.
  • I dragged in the "Family is" word strip below the swirl layer
  • I dragged in the "what matters most" word strip below that layer.
  • Then I pulled in my photo and other items and arranged it all where I wanted it. (I always do this before getting detailed as I end up moving them around so much before I'm decided on the final arrangement.)
  • I applied a drop shadow layer style to the swirl and some of the other items too. (Note: the word strips already have "lifted"shadows). This played an important part in my layer arrangement.
Here's what we have so far.

My goal is to have the paper strips weaving in and out of the swirl.
See here below where I X'd out what parts I don't want to see on the swirl in the end.

Now click your layer mask while your swirl layer is selected.  Click on the white mask in the icon area of the swirl layer, be sure your colors are default black foreground color and white background color, (D), and you have a small round hard brush selected (B).
Now paint using the black color to hide parts of your swirl, or switching to the white (X), color to reveal.

Tip:  I Command Click (Control click on a PC), on the layer icon of the word strips below to select the shape so I stay within the lines and not erase more than I want to.
Work through your mask to "hide" the parts you don't want to see clicking on each layer's icon for the shape select as you go.

But now… see how the drop shadow is showing over my word strips where I circled in red here?  Not good!  I used to have to make a separate layer for my shadow and mask it also…. but not any more since I learned this kewl trick.

Right click on the swirl's layer and select "Blending Options".  

On the dialog that pops up, check in the Advanced blending area "Layer Mask Hides Effects"

See, now my drop shadow layer style is not showing up!
You might have to go back to your mask and touch up using the black and white depending on what you're masking.  Here it is again all nice and neat.  Look Mom!  No shadows on what I don't want!

Now… just because I'm anal retentive or obsessive compulsive… I want to darken up just a touch of my swirl that tucks under the strip.  I just grab my burn tool with a soft round brush and on the Swirl layer, I just give a little touch or two on the swirl that is under the paper part to darken it up.  I know, no one would know but me… but hey, if I'm here, I might as well do it right and I am ALL into making my layouts as real a possible! :D
Here's a before and after of that little area. The red circle area is untouched.  See, it's slight, but it's different.  Little details like this is what I think makes all the difference on a layout page.

And because I used a swirl here, I wanted to create a new layer for the shadow and pulled it out using a free transform tool (only available in CS, sorry PSE girls), from the paper swirl to give even more realism.  I'll explain that in another lesson.  I added my journaling and date and done.
Here is my finished page. :)

All items used are from Inspired Collection and the Inspired2 Add-On.
And just cause I know someone is going to ask… the flowers on the white canvas are the same black inked ones from Inspired.  I changed the layer blending mode to soft light and duplicated the layer a few times to get the look as if they were painted right on to the canvas.
Here's a close up cause I know itty biddy previews of the overall page for the web just don't show the detail… and it's ALL about in the details to me! Remember? :D
I showed a little screen shot of each additional stage of duplicating the layer as I did them to show the end result of 4 total layers of the flower.

That's it, that's all for this week.  Hope you learned something new here and can apply to your own layouts.  And don't forget to share and show us what you did in the DDS gallery, just cause we would love to show you some love and I get excited to see when someone learns something and I had something to do with that.  It's all about paying it forward. :)

EDIT:  Cilenia has decided to do a free kit to one winner from all who comment on Technique Thursdays.   Winner will be randomly drawn from all comments on Wednesday night from the past week.  If you already bought the kit, we will credit your account $ instead.

So if you enjoy our Technique Posts… let us know and be entered into winning a FREE kit!
This weeks kit is Inspired 2!


  1. senovia said...:

    WOW!! There are like 5 super tips in there that I did not know! Thanks Cilenia!!

  1. marcie said...:

    Awesome tips!! I love this technique and now I can make it even more realistic. Thanks.

  1. Julie said...:

    Thanks for the great tips!!!!

  1. bestsides said...:

    I always made a separate shadow layer for just the reason you mentioned above. I am thrilled to have learned about that Advanced Blending Option. Very cool indeed, thanks!

  1. debiMac said...:

    Thanks for the tutorial, though it's all so over my head. LOL!

  1. Debi Putnam said...:

    That is a really cool technique. I love how indepth you went with it ... even to the shadow. You are AMAZING!!!

    -Debi P

  1. DebbieTheBee said...:

    Thanks Celenia for making things so straight forward and easy.

  1. Laurie said...:

    That is a great tip! Thanks, Cilenia!

  1. farabee said...:

    I swore I posted a comment already, but don't see it. This is the BEST tip I've seen in ages, CC. Thanks for sharing it.

  1. Cilenia said...:

    Hi Lynda! Yes, it seems Blogger is not posting all of them for some reason, have had several others tell me the same thing. SORRY! Anyone else can post in the forum so they are included in the drawing!

    Glad you ladies enjoyed this little tip, it's been a huge time saver for me! Thought it was worth sharing. :)

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