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From the author of Creating a New Look with the Masking Bug

Creating a New Look with the Masking Bug

Now we’re ready to replace some pixels! Making sure the Inspector is visible, click on the Masking Bug icon in the Toolbar (looks like a box with antennae attached). Next click on the area of the document you want to mask, allowing the image content underneath to show through. You should be greeted by a preview similar to the one in Figure 5. You can see that the mask area is rectangular and oriented vertically.

Figure 5 The Masking Bug provides an intuitive, visual means of hiding portions of one layer, so that the underlying content can be “combined” to create a new image.

There is also a circular masking bug. Depending on which one you need, use the Shape menu in the Inspector to change the Masking Bug type. Here I left it at the default setting because I wanted to mask away (roughly) the bottom third of the layer in its entirety. To re-orient the Masking Bug, click and rotate the solid white handles as needed. If you drag them outward, the mask grid will expand. Figure 6 shows the bug rotated 90 degrees and its grid area expanded slightly. To move the entire grid to a different spot on the preview, click inside the bug itself and drag.

Figure 6 Use the solid handles to rotate and resize the region that the Masking Bug’s grid covers.

Once you’ve positioned the Masking Bug so that the edge of its grid is on or near details in the layer that you want to protect, click and drag the “antenna” around on the top-right corner of the bug, to both set the opacity and feather values of the mask. It shouldn’t take you long to get the feel of it; pay attention to the values displayed as you move it about. This is how you control the transition between the two layers so that it looks natural.

Typically I maintain an opacity value close to 100%, and move the Masking Bug such that a Feather of 5-20% will create a seamless blend between the two layers (Figure 7).

Figure 7 Use the Masking Bug’s “antennae” to adjust the layer opacity and feather values, and the mask’s opacity value to create a seamless transition.

The antenna on the top-left corner of the bug will impact the opacity of the mask itself. If you drag it inward, the original layer content will start to show through again. Generally I leave this at 100% for workflows like this one.

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