Layer Mask Workaround in PhotoShop Elements

Blending layers in the full blown PhotoShop program is easy. So, when I lost my full size version of the program and had to jump to the consumer grade version known as PhotoShop Elements I lost some functionality, or so I thought.

1. Start with an image.

The idea that I had for my first image for my photo-a-day project year six was to put my eyes on Optimus Prime and also include the image of the 25th anniversary G1 DVD set as the Matrix of Leadership.

2. Scale down your additional images.

I took a photo of myself and then scaled the image down and lined my eyes up with Optimus’ eyes. To do this I set the opacity on the image of me down so that I could see my eyes over Optimus’ eyes.

3. Scale down any additional images.

I also wanted the box image of the DVD set to serve as the Matrix of Leadership on Optimus.

4. Create a blank layer.

Clipping MaskYou will move the layers like the eyes and the matrix above the background layer of Optimus Prime. Then I moved my mouse to the layers toolbar and specifically to the spot between the blank layer and the face layer. I hold down my alt key and then the clipping mask icon (see image at the left) comes up, I click my mouse and the eyes layer indents and you no longer see that layer. Make sure that you now click on the blank layer and you can start painting on that layer, this allows the image of the eyes to show through to the image of Optimus Prime. You can also stack multiple layers above that blank “painting” layer and that is how I created hte overall final image.

5. Painting on the Clipping Layer

By painting this layer I can easily add paint to reveal more of the underlying layers like the Face and the Matrix. I use the eraser option to put back more of the layer of Optimus. This gives you great control over what to reveal in your images. Also it doesn’t matter what color you use to paint on the clipping layer. So if you are blending multiple layers it is actually easier to organize by using different colors to correspond with the multiple layers.

6. See your final image

Here is my final image before I added some extra enhancements not related to the clipping mask.

7. Add some additional enhancements (if you want)

I didn’t think the image above was dynamic enough so I added a few lens flares and some difference clouds to give it a little more depth and interest. So, below is my final image.


Everyday Photos… Every… Day… is about my life through photography. Each image is a gateway to a story about my daily life. Occasionally funny, inspiring, interesting or creative is real life in photos. With over 1838 consecutive days and five different cameras has documented images from the mundane to the amazing. I am Blog Consultant, Photo-A-Day Photographer and Daddy Blogger.