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Layers & Masks


Product Details:


Video course (6 hours, 12 min)

Software version:

Photoshop CC (version 23)


Nicole S. Young

Publish date:

March 2022

Delivery method:

Digital download, Online course

Filetypes included:

.mp4, .pdf, .psw, .psd, .jpg

Layers & Masks

You’re THIS CLOSE to finally understanding Photoshop

Have you always wanted to UNDERSTAND Photoshop, but didn’t know where to begin?

I can remember when I was first learning how to edit my digital photos, and layers and masks were a mystery to me. I knew that once I understood those foundations, so much more would be possible when it comes to creating the photos I could see in my head.

And I was right!

After I finally started to understand how to use layers and work non-destructively, my photography edits improved ten-fold. I no longer had to struggle through Photoshop, guessing every step along the way.

Now I can create with purpose

Layers and masks in Photoshop are two of the biggest essential features that must be understood in order to create the vision you see. Photoshop is an extremely powerful program that YOU can FINALLY MASTER.

YOU can finally master Photoshop and learn how to:

  • Discover my two methods to edit a landscape photograph using luminosity masks

  • Learn how I create selections of hair with a simple and straightforward formula

  • Use Photoshop to do all of the work (without a plugin!)

  • Add beautiful textures to your photographs

  • Blend your photos together seamlessly

  • Remove the confusion around masking and layers

  • Stop struggling in Photoshop

Take charge of your photography with Layers & Masks

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Hours of video training
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Video lessons
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Hands-on training projects


This course features easy-to-follow videos that walk you through learning layers and masking for photographers.

Here are some of the things you will discover and learn while taking this course:


This course features easy-to-follow videos that walk you through learning layers and masking for photographers.

Here are some of the things you will discover and learn while taking this course:

  • Luminosity Masking
  • Masking Hair

  • Adjustment Layers
  • Clipping Masks
  • Channels
  • Selection Tools
  • Automatic Selections
  • Dodging & Burning
  • Layers Properties
  • Blend Modes
  • Advanced Techniques
  • Hands-on Projects


Includes a printable PDF workbook and video guide so you can follow along with each lesson. Also includes a list of essential keyboard shortcuts.


Here are some of the video training features you’ll find in this course (hover over each item to learn more):





Here are some of the video training features you’ll find in this course:


Keyboard shortcuts are listed on the bottom of the screen to help you reinforce and remember quick access to tools and functions.


Optional closed captions (in English) are included with each video file. Use your video software to turn this feature on or off as needed.


The cursor is highlighted in yellow to make it easy to follow along with the videos.


The video is zoomed in as needed to make each step easy to follow and see the important parts of each lesson.

100% Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Your satisfaction is important to me. That’s why I’m backing this course with a 100% satisfaction guarantee! If you are not happy with your purchase, please get in touch through my support email and I’ll take care of you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What software does this course work best with?

This course is created for Photoshop CC users and was created using Photoshop CC 2022. If you have an older version of Photoshop, you will still benefit from much of this course. Things such as layers, adjustments, and general photo editing will be identical or similar. However, there will be some features that do not exist in your version, so those techniques will not apply to your software. If you have a specific question about software compatibility, please contact support for more information.

If you use Photoshop Elements (PSE), there will be parts of this course that will apply to that software. However, PSE is missing several key masking features, such as the automatic masking tools (Color Range, Select sky, Select subject, etc.), as well as Channels, full use of Smart Object functionality, and many more. If you are interested in moving towards an intermediate or advanced level of enhancing and editing your photos, I recommend upgrading to the full version of Photoshop CC. (For only $9.99/month you can get Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop).

How can I watch this course?

Once you place your order, you will receive a download link with all course files (videos, practice image files, and links to other items, depending on which version you purchase). There is no time limit to accessing your course files, and you are welcome to download them to all of your own personal devices.

What skill level is this course?

This course was created with the beginner and intermediate user in mind, and if you are new to Photoshop then you will have no problem diving into this course and getting the full benefit out of it. You’ll find the approachable nature of the teaching style in this course to be easy to follow while still learning advanced and creative editing techniques.

No prior Photoshop experience is required in order to use this course!

In general, users of all levels (including those who consider themselves “advanced” Photoshop users) will still find a lot of valuable information and should find this training beneficial to building their Photoshop skills.

What photography genres does this cover?

In the video examples, you’ll see a wide variety of images, such as portraits, landscapes, still-life, and so on. This training is not made for a specific style of photography. Instead, it is created to help you understand masks and layers so that you can apply the concepts to your unique images.

What is included in the PDF Workbook?

The workbook has a list of all videos, their descriptions, filenames, and as well as the filenames for the images used in the hands-on project section(s). There is also a note-taking area on each video page, as well as a keyboard shortcut list at the back of the document.


Lesson 01: What are layers?

This lesson describes what layers are and why they are important for photographers to create beautiful photographs and composite images.

Lesson 02: The benefits of using layers

This video walks through the many reasons why layers are the best way to work on your photos in Photoshop. Some of these include that they make your editing non-destructive, they add the ability to re-edit the layers, change the layer order for different looks, mask the layers to create selective adjustments, and so on.

Lesson 03: Setting up the Photoshop workspace

Photoshop has a LOT of panels to work with, and setting up your workspace so that only the relevant panels are showing can make photo editing much easier and more efficient. In this lesson, I demonstrate how to rearrange panels, and I also show how to import the included Nicolesy.psw workspace file.

Lesson 01: The Background layer

Learn all about the different types of layers that you can use in Photoshop. This video reviews the characteristics of the background layer.

Lesson 02: Pixel layers

Many of the image layers you will work with are pixel layers. This video demonstrates how pixel layers work, as well as some things to keep in mind when working with a pixel layer, especially if you want to work non-destructively.

Lesson 03: Shape and Vector layers

Shapes and vectors are re-editable and non-destructive. You might find yourself working with shapes if using clipping masks while creating collages. This lesson demonstrates how to create and work with shapes, and also an example comparing them to a rasterized pixel layer.

Lesson 04: Adjustment layers

When working non-destructively, you’ll want to make use of Adjustment layers. These special layers allow you to add effects, such as brightness, contrast, colors, and more.

Lesson 05: Fill layers

If you need to fill a layer with a color, pattern, or gradient, a fill layer is an easy way to do this. They are non-destructive layers that can be re-edited and changed even after they are created, and work well to add a background effect, or they can be blended and used to stylize a photo or design.

Lesson 06: Type layers

The Type tool lets you add text to your photos. Text created with the Type tool is another type of vector object that can be re-edited, transformed, and so on, while still retaining the original quality of the layer. While this isn’t used a lot with basic photo edits, you might want to add a watermark, a photo title, or other text effects to your images.

Lesson 07: Smart Objects

Smart Objects are powerful layers that allow you to make changes to the layer without actually affecting it destructively. If you open a raw file as a Smart Object, you can re-edit the raw settings. You can also resize a Smart Object without damaging the layer, which means it can always be brought back to its original size and still look the same. They also work really well when using filters and plugins, as they allow you to keep them re-editable.

Lesson 01: Introduction to Adjustment Layers

This lesson shows an overview of how to use Adjustment Layers to apply non-destructive edits to your images. This video will get you set up using the Adjustments and Properties panels, as well as how to access the adjustments and add them to your document.

Lesson 02: Brightness & Contrast

The Brightness & Contrast adjustment is a straightforward tool that lets you make basic changes to the tone and contrast of your image.

Lesson 03: Curves

When you want to have more control, look no further than the Curves adjustment. This adjustment lets you add brightness and contrast, create a faded look, and it also allows you to adjust the color of your image.

Lesson 04: Vibrance

Learn the main difference between vibrance and saturation, as well as some tips on using the Vibrance adjustment in your photos.

Lesson 05: Hue/Saturation

Learn how to use the Hue/Saturation adjustment to selectively change and enhance the colors in your photograph.

Lesson 06: Color Balance

The Color Balance adjustment allows you to fix the color in your photo, as well as use it to create a split-toned effect by selectively adjusting the highlights and shadows.

Lesson 07: Black & White

This adjustment gives you a lot of control when adding a black-and-white effect by allowing you to adjust the luminosity of the colors in your photograph.

Lesson 08: Photo Filter

You can use the Photo Filter adjustment to add a colorized effect. You can select from the included presets, or choose your own color using the Color swatch option.

Lesson 09: Color Lookup

The Color Lookup tool is what you will use to apply LUT (.cube) files to your photos. It also includes several included presets to work with as well.

Lesson 10: Gradient Map

Add a colorized look to your photo by “mapping” different colors to the shadows, highlights, and mid-tones.

01: Introduction to blend modes

This video gives an overview of what blend modes are, how to use them in your photographs, and some examples to get you started.

02: Overlay and Soft Light

Learn how the Overlay and Soft Light blend modes work, and why you might use them in your photographs, particularly with texture images.

03: Multiply and Screen

The Multiply and Screen blend modes work by either showing the black (or darker) parts of an image while hiding the white (or bright) areas, and the Screen blend mode does the opposite (shows white, hides black).

04: Color and Luminosity

The Color blend mode shows only the color of a layer, and the Luminosity blend mode works to show only the tones of a layer. This video shows some examples and also why they might work well for your images.

Lesson 01: Creating new layers

Learn how to add new blank layers and image layers to your documents.

Lesson 02: Rearranging layers

The order and arrangement of layers in the Layers panel will affect how they appear in your documents. This video shows an overview of how to rearrange layers to change layer order by dragging and dropping within the Layers panel.

Lesson 03: Grouping layers

A good way to keep large Photoshop documents organized is to group similar layers together. Grouping layers also allows you to change the properties of multiple layers all at once, such as adjusting blend modes and opacity settings.

Lesson 04: Duplicating layers

If you want to re-use a layer, multiple layers, or a group, you can simply duplicate the layer. The examples in this lesson show how to duplicate textures and adjustment layers to intensify the existing effect.

Lesson 05: Renaming layers

To keep your layers panel organized, it’s a good idea to rename your layers. It’s good practice to get into the habit of giving your layers unique names so that you can remember the effects you applied (and why they were added) when accessing your layers later on.

Lesson 06: Merging layers

If you need to combine multiple layers into one layer, flatten your image to retain save-ability with a JPEG file or create a “stamped” layer to apply an effect to, you will want to learn how to merge your layers together.

Lesson 07: Transforming layers

There are many ways that you can transform an image layer. This lesson reviews several ways to use the Transform command in Photoshop, including how to scale, resize, skew, and more. You will also discover the benefit of using Smart Object layers to reset your transformation without degrading the image layer’s pixel quality.

Lesson 08: Layer visibility

Watch how you can hide layers in the document to get a before-and-after preview of effects. Plus, you’ll learn how to quickly remove excess space in the photo (such as a transparent background) as well as reveal hidden content that is positioned beyond the document’s canvas boundary area.

Lesson 01: What is masking?

Masking is an important technique to use to create selective edits, background replacements, composite work, and more. This lesson walks through the basics of masking, and also explains and demonstrates the benefits of masking a layer versus erasing it.

Lesson 02: Creating a mask

Learn how to add regular (white) and inverted (black) masks to a layer.

Lesson 03a: Editing a mask

This lesson shows an overview of how to use the Brush and Gradient tools, as well as the Properties panel, to create and edit masks in your images.

Lesson 03b: Editing a mask with the Gradient tool

Learn how to use the gradient tool to darken the sky of a landscape photo.

Lesson 03c: Editing a mask with the Brush tool

Learn how to use the Brush tool and Properties panel to mask two layers together in order to balance the tones of a landscape photograph.

Lesson 01a: Selections, Masks, and Tools

This video gives an overview of how selections and masks work, along with several of the selection tools found in Photoshop.

Lesson 01b: Selection Tools in Photoshop

Take a look inside Photoshop to learn how the different selection tools work. Tools mentioned in this video include the Marquee tools (Rectangular and Elliptical), Lasso tools (Lasso, Polygonal, and Magnetic), Magic Wand tool, Quick Selection tool, and the Object Selection tool.

Lesson 01c: Converting selections to masks

Learn how to convert selections into masks by creating a selection and adding a new mask, or by filling an existing mask with either black or white.

Lesson 02a: Creating automatic selections

Photoshop has several easy methods to create automatic selections in your image. This video gives an overview of each of these methods.

Lesson 02b: Color Range

Selecting a group of colors or tones is easy with the Color Range option. Learn how to use this tool in two different ways: To replace an uneven background color, and to make selective adjustments.

Lesson 02c: Focus Area

If you have a part of your image that is in focus, and the rest is blurry, the “Focus Area” automatic selection tool is a great fit. You can use this type of selection for selective edits to the focus area, or its surroundings.

Lesson 02d: Select Subject

This is a great tool to use to help you select the main subject of your photograph. It’s similar to the “Object Selection tool”, but works through the menu instead of a tool.

Lesson 02e: Select Sky

This option will automatically find and select the sky in your photo. Photoshop already has a sky replacement feature, but sometimes you need to select the sky for selective edits or to invert it and select other parts of the image.

Lesson 03: Working with Channels

Channels work by displaying a black-and-white representation of the red, green, and blue areas in your image. The more white there is in the channel, the more of that color that is represented. Channels can be used to create complex masks, and also to create masks with a lot of contrast.

Lesson 04a: Refining selections

Once you create a mask—especially when using channels—you may need to refine it. This video shows an overview of the different methods you can use to do this, and also walks through examples of using adjustments, the brush tool, and the Select and Mask feature to edit your masks.

Lesson 04b: Masking hair

Learn a quick and easy method to refine hair using Select and Mask, blend modes, and the brush tool.

Lesson 01: Previewing layer masks

Learn the different methods used to preview your masks, including viewing the mask in black-and-white, with a color overlay, as well as how to temporarily disable the mask.

Lesson 02: Duplicating layer masks

If you have a mask that you would like to use on another layer, the quickest method is to duplicate the mask. This saves you time and prevents you from having to re-create the mask from scratch.

Lesson 03: Masking groups

When you have several layers in your document that all require the same mask, you can combine the layers into a group and then mask the group. This saves time and makes it easier to create and edit a single mask for multiple layers.

Lesson 04: Linked masks

Layer masks are linked to the layer thumbnail by default. However, by unlinking the mask from the layer, you can transform and move either the layer or the mask independently of the other.

Lesson 05: Clipping masks

Clipping masks are a useful technique to use when you have a layer or adjustment and you only want the layer to apply to the layer below it. This is useful for creating collages, containing images inside of a shape or text, and more.

Lesson 01: Bumblebee

This classic photo edit shows how to use masking to create selective edits to create a finished look. This lesson includes the following:

    • Cropping to improve composition
    • Selectively sharpening the in-focus areas
    • Using Adjustment layers to adjust tone and color
    • Using the Camera Raw filter for a vignette
    • Dodging and burning
    • Masking for selective edits

Lesson 02: Baby with Texture

Create a textured portrait using advanced blending techniques to remove the texture from part of the image without removing the blended effects, such as color and tone. This lesson includes the following:

    • Texture blending
    • Masking a Smart Filter
    • Using Adjustment layers to adjust tone and color
    • Clipping an adjustment to a layer
    • Adding an Orton effect for added contrast and color

Lesson 03: Luminosity Masking (Channels)

Learn how to edit a landscape photo using luminosity masking with channels to selectively edit the tones in the photo. This lesson includes the following:

    • Creating masks using Channels
    • Using Adjustment layers to adjust tone and color
    • Creating a selection from a channel to selectively brush over a mask
    • Duplicating and inverting masks and layers
    • Adding an Orton effect for added contrast and color
    • Brushing on a manual vignette

Lesson 04: Luminosity Masking (Color Range)

Learn how to edit a landscape photo using luminosity masking with the Color Range tool to selectively edit the tones in the photo. This lesson includes the following:

    • Creating masks using Color Range
    • Using Adjustment layers to adjust tone and color
    • Refining masks with the Properties panel
    • Using masks to selectively apply a vibrance to the foreground
    • Intensifying the color of grass and foliage
    • Dodging and burning, as well as a vignette
    • Adding an Orton effect for added contrast and color

Lesson 05: Stylized Portrait

This lesson shows how to add creative styling to a portrait image using layers, masks, and blend modes. This lesson includes the following:

    • Cropping to improve composition
    • Using a curves adjustment to add contrast
    • Using blend modes with color and adjustments to add color and contrast
    • Adding selective sharpening to the face of the portrait
    • Dodging and burning on a face to emphasize natural features
    • Adding an overlay to give the image a light-leak effect
    • Saving the file as a JPEG image and resizing the saved file

Lesson 06: Bridge in a Frame

Learn how to add a photo to a frame and mask it so it looks like it’s coming out of the frame (a “spilling frame” technique). This lesson includes the following:

    • Using a clipping mask to clip an image layer into a shape
    • Inverting a selection and adding a mask to an image layer
    • Applying a stroke and drop shadow with Layer Styles
    • Making a selection with the Rectangle Marquee tool
    • Filling a selection to add or subtract from a mask
    • Cropping to improve composition

Lesson 07: Replacing a Background

This video shows how to add a new backdrop to a photo of a person, mask their hair, and stylize the photo so it blends together. This lesson includes the following:

    • Masking hair from a portrait image
    • Adding a new background and blurring the scene
    • Refining the edge of a mask with brushing
    • Using a blend mode to help mask and blend hair
    • Applying Adjustment layers to improve brightness and contrast
    • Using clipping masks to limit adjustments to only one layer
    • Grouping layers to adjust multiple layers at once
    • Using blend modes with color to add a colorized effect
    • Dodging and burning to adjust the light
    • Adding film grain to a composite image

Lesson 08: Creating a Collage

Learn how to create a collage template for your images from a new blank document in Photoshop. This lesson includes the following:

    • Creating a new blank document
    • Adding guides to help position rectangles that hold your images
    • Duplicating a layer with the Move tool
    • Clipping image layers to rectangle shapes
    • Adding a border to the images in a collage with Layer Styles



Take a peek at two of the lessons from this course to get a feel for what to expect:


Take a peek below at some of the hands-on projects included in this course.

This project walks through the steps of adding a new backdrop to a photo of a person, mask their hair, and stylize the photo so it blends together.

Learn how to add a photo to a frame and mask it so it looks like it’s coming out of the frame (a “spilling frame” technique).

Create a textured portrait using advanced blending techniques to remove the texture from part of the image without removing the blended effects, such as color and tone.


What are you waiting for?

— Get ready to transform the way you edit your photos —

Nicole S. Young

About Nicole Young

Hi there! I’m Nicole Young and I’ve been a Photoshop user for more than 20 years. I once worked as a Kelby Training as a Photoshop customer support “help desk” pro, where I helped troubleshoot photographers’ questions about Photoshop. You might also recognize me from my in-app Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials, where you can follow step-by-step instructions using Adobe products right inside of the app.

In 2005 I started my first blog, which launched my career as a photography educator. I THRIVE on teaching photography and post-processing! The best part of my job is when someone tells me that they FINALLY understand something they were struggling with for years, and I get to see that lightbulb “CLICK!” in their brains when it finally sinks in.

I’ve created DOZENS of photography products and my customers are SO HAPPY with their investments.

So … if you’ve been looking for the RIGHT TRAINING to help you to FINALLY understand LAYERS & MASKS in Photoshop, then why not take the leap today?!

Purchase Layers & Masks today:

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09 Sep 2022
Kevin H.
United States United States

Layers and Marks course review

Nicole is an excellent teacher who combines clear descriptions, lessons in bite-sized chunks, and an enthusiasm for learning. The results are a comprehensive, novel approach to the description of Layers and Masks in the world of Photoshop. This course would benefit a user of this Photoshop at any skill level. Layers, masking, channels, blend modes, luminosity, opacity, stamp layers, and clipping are just some of the useful skills covered in depth. Learning is supplemented with a workbook, lesson quizzes, and guided projects. The capstone is the coaching sessions with Nicole. The bottom line is this course provides a valuable understanding of the layer and mask principles. As the course progresses Nicole then demonstrates practical applications and at each turn builds new levels of understanding while reinforcing earlier learning. This course is well worth the money that not only offers a chance to up one's Photoshop game but will be a reference that can be utilized in the future. Worth the money and time investment!

03 Aug 2022
Roy C.
United States United States
I recommend this product

Layers and Masks

The program clearly reviews all the benefits of learning and using Photoshop. The benefits of going back and reviewing the different videos to answer questions you may have. Really like this program.

18 Apr 2022
John P.
United States United States
I recommend this product

Layer Upon Layer

This is not the first, or probably the last, Photoshop learning program I have used. Photoshop is a huge program filled with many different features to help you improve your pictures. If you are not skilled in the use of complex programs such as this you will not be aware of the many, many things you can do with Photoshop. Having someone explain many of the features and how to use them is absolutely essential. Each new course I use opens new uses to me. I plan to go back and improve many of my earlier efforts. Thanks for providing this class for me.

12 Apr 2022
Larry V.
United Kingdom United Kingdom
I recommend this product

Excellent intro to Layers and Masks

Lots of great tips and useful demos

Nicolesy Layers  Review
11 Apr 2022
Joan L.
United States United States
I recommend this product

Great Class

Each lesson is very short and to the point. Nicole explains everything in very easy to understand terms. I bought the class because I am weak on masking.

07 Apr 2022
Judy G.
United States United States
I recommend this product

I recommend Layers and Masks 100%

I recommend Layers and Masks 100% to beginners and experienced Photoshop users who have had questions but weren’t sure where to turn. Nicole’s videos give information about layers and masks and then shows how everything fits together step-by-step. Whenever I watch a masks and layers video, I don’t have questions related to the content because Nicole’s videos are professional and clear and frankly a joy to watch!

Nicolesy Layers  Review
07 Apr 2022
Michael J. Berger
United States United States
I recommend this product

Best Photoshop Course Ever

Over the years I have taken several Photoshop on-line courses. This course is, by far, the best. What makes it the best? (1) It is technically superior; sound quality and display are first rate, (2) It is divided into short modules which makes it easy to remember and a lot easier to find what you want when you want to review material, (3) Nicole's soft style is pleasant to listen to listen to; no jarring movements or harsh sounds, (4) and most important, the editing is superb; it is clear the Nicole put a lot of thought and time into the entire course; very professional and very user friendly.

05 Apr 2022
Martin T.
Australia Australia
I recommend this product

An excellent source for learning Photoshop masking

This course is excellent. There is no better online photography teacher than Nicolesy. The course content, Nicolesy's teaching methodology, and clarity of her course materials are unparallel online.

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