Difficulties in understanding layer masking. I have PhotoShop Elements 9. I am adding three photographs on top of a Background Layer (which is in a separate file from the photos). First, I would think that I do masking of three photos in separate files before adding them to my New File which is my Background. I want ONLY PARTS of these photographs to disappear and their main nucleus need to SHOW. What confuses are PS 9's instructions. What are the distinctions between the masking thumbnails? There is "Add Layer Mask" and "Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer." I realize that the "FILL Layers" involve Solid Colors, Gradients and Patterns. The new "Adjustment Layers" involve Levels, Brightness, Hue and Saturation. When do I use the "Add Layer Mask" thumbnail as opposed to the "Create New Fill Layer" thumbnail? ALSO: the PS Instructions say when the "Layer Mask" is ATTACHED to an ADJUSTMENT LAYER..." what the heck do they mean by "ATTACHED"? What am I choosing first? When I experimented with their suggestion of using RED as solid color, I used the Paintbrush and was able to see photo underneath -- stripped away the red. However, how do you control how much to remove or not? The solid color really hides everything. I understand if I choose varying levels of GREY, this will partially remove the adjustment effect or fill. Can someone shed light? Thanks!
I agree that the "help" in the referenced help file is inartfully expressed.
It is my understanding that you have 4 picture files, and that one will be the background. You wish to add objects from the other three to the background. Please correct me if I am not correct.
If that is the plan, then please post the 4 pictures, or at least the one designated for the background, and one other so that we may advise you. Specify which object(s) are to be placed on the background..
OK, let's take it from the top:
Layers are like transparent sheets of acetate that are stacked on top of each other. Each layer contains a "thing", either an image or a gradient, etc.
Layers may or may not also have a mask as part of the layer (the choice is yours). The mask hides and reveals areas of its layer. It does that by using the colours black, white and all shades of gray in between. When you paint with black (or shades of gray) on the layer's mask, areas that are covered with non-white will not show (in proportion to the amount of gray or black on the mask).
When you add an adjustment layer (or a fill layer) you'll see that that layer automatically is given a mask -- all white by default so everything on that layer will show. "Attached" simply means that a layer has a mask.
You choose to add an adjustment layer or fill layer when you want the specific "thing" that that layer does -- the fill colour or the Levels adjustment, etc.
You choose to add a mask to an existing layer when you want to manually hide or reveal the "things" that are on that layer.
Clear as mud?