Masking a layer is one of the key functions you can do within Photoshop and is something you'll likely use more often than not. There are many things you can do with a layer mask, including inverting it to reveal the hidden areas or to select areas that are hard to select. Learning how to invert a mask in Photoshop can help you apply changes to any part of your image easily.
Whenever you create a mask on a layer, it is completely white by default. This means that the mask is revealing the whole layer. Now when you paint any area of the layer with black, it will conceal that part.
If you don’t want to obscure the details and just want translucence, you can use shades of grey to paint those areas. The lighter the shade of grey, the lighter will be the masking effect.
Now here comes the fun part. You can inverse all of this selection and delete the mask from the painted area, apply the effect instead to the deselected area.
The reason why layer masks and inverting them are useful is that the editing is non-destructive. Instead of using the Eraser tool to delete the pixels from your original image, you can apply layer masks, invert them as required, and delete them if you wish to undo the editing effects.
Let’s shed some light on layer mask inversion and the purpose of using layer masks to help you advance your editing skills.
A quick run down to adding layer masks is essential before moving on to invert them. It is important to understand that in Adobe Photoshop CC, layer masks can be applied to every layer in a multi-layered document. The mask will affect the layer it is appended to.
When created, the layer mask is white by default (revealing effect) unless you paint it grey or black (complete or partial obscuration).
Inverting a mask will reverse the colors in the layer. This simply means that the areas you painted black will become white, representing visibility rather than obscurity, and vice versa.
When you invert the mask, make sure that the mask is selected on the layer. A white box around the mask icon will indicate its selection. As the mask is selected, any adjustments that you make will affect the masked area only.
There are three ways to invert a mask:
Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to save time during your Photoshop workflow. When you use them frequently, you memorize them, accelerating your work even more.
The keyboard shortcut for inverting a mask is CTRL + I for Windows or COMMAND + I on Mac. Make sure the mask is active on the layer before you apply the invert mask command.
One more method to achieve the same result is by using the Properties panel.
All three methods will switch everything to the opposite shade in your layer mask. The transparency would be swapped.
Like every other functionality in Photoshop, layer masks can also be handled in more than one way. For instance, if you want to duplicate a mask onto another layer and invert it at the same time, you can do it very easily and quickly.
Press and hold ALT + SHIFT (Windows) or OPT + SHIFT (Mac). Click on the mask and drag it onto a new layer. Your mask will be inverted and copied in one go.
As mentioned above, a layer mask is white by default, which means that it reveals the layer completely. If you want to hide the layer completely, you need to invert the mask later on. However, one quick way to do this is to create an inverted mask from the start.
If you are a new Photoshop user and are not familiar with vector masks, know that they’re different from regular layer masks. The vector mask is created with the Pen Tool, or a Shape Tool, containing anchor points.
A vector mask basically clips out the layer contents in a shape which we use to create it. It comes in handy when you are dealing with objects that have hard edges. Drawing a vector mask and then working on the visibility of that object will be much easier than using the Brush Tool.
To understand the complete functionality of layer mask inversion, it is important to know when to use the feature. There are several situations in which you may feel the need to invert your mask. Some of them are:
If the invert mask feature is not working, you first have to make sure your layer mask is selected. If you are still having the same issue, try resetting your Preferences by going to the Preferences tab. You can access it from the Edit menu on top.
Creating masks and then inverting them is a Photoshop feature that will equip you with efficient editing capabilities. The technique is frequently used by professional image editors to create surreal images by blending components of several layers artistically. You, too, can create compelling graphics with multiple layers if you learn to use the invert mask option accurately.