View Mask Overlay

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Today’s Question: I’m working on learning targeted adjustments in Photoshop. While watching your lesson on Quick Mask mode in Photoshop, I had a question. Can the same color overlay used with Quick Mask mode for selections also be displayed for layer masks? I find that display to be particularly helpful.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can display the equivalent of the Quick Mask overlay for a layer mask by pressing the Backslash key (\) on the keyboard while the applicable layer is active on the Layers panel.

More Detail: Quick Mask mode in Photoshop provides a workflow for refining (or creating) selections by painting with the Brush tool rather than using the various selection tools. When you press “Q” on the keyboard you’ll see a color overlay (it is red by default) that indicates areas that are not selected. Selected areas of the image appear in normal color.

With Quick Mask mode active, you can add areas to the selection by painting with white in the image. You can subtract areas from the selection by painting with black. In effect, painting with black adds the color overlay and painting with white removes that overlay. Pressing “Q” again returns you to the normal selection mode.

The same color overlay presented as part of Quick Mask mode can be displayed when you’re working with a layer mask. You need to first select the applicable layer on the Layers panel, which can be done by simply clicking on the thumbnail for the layer with the layer mask you want to work with.

With the applicable layer active, you can press the Backslash key (\) on the keyboard to activate the color overlay display. Note that while it is possible to change the color and opacity settings for the Quick Mask mode color overlay, those changes do not affect the layer mask overlay displayed when you press the Backslash key.