Blending With A Layer Mask In Photoshop

In this tutorial im going to show you a really easy way of blending in photoshop by using a layer mask,
and a gradient layer mask and hopefully you will also get a basic idea of how layer masks work too!
i am using PSCS3 but you could probably do this in most versions..

You will need 2 images that you want to blend together for this tutorial, i am using a waterfall and a country scene but you can use any two images.
















Open, your 2 images in photoshop, duplicate both by going to Image>Duplicate, then close the originals.
Drag the image you want to blend in onto your main image, in my case i want the waterfall layer on top.
Right click your background layer on your layers palette and choose Layer from Background:
























Now make sure your top layer is active in your layers palette,
Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All, you can also do this step from the bottom of your layer
palette by clicking the layer mask button:





You will now see in your layers palette there is the white thumbnail of the Mask:



















Make sure the Mask is the active layer by checking if little black borders are around it.
Click on your Brush Tool, then go up to the Brush options:























Choose a soft rounded brush and reduce the hardness to whatever you find is suitable for your images,
i also reduced my opacity but you can get various results by playing around with the settings.
Your foreground colour should already be black and background white because of the Mask Layer so go ahead and
start brushing parts of your image with the black colour, see what happens?
The image underneath starts to appear! it looks as if you have erased parts of the top layer but you havent they are only hidden
so if you make a mistake and reveal too much of your bottom layer just swap
your foreground colour to white and paint it back in until your happy with your results.

This is my result:




























Lets try again using a Gradient on the Layer Mask instead of the Paint Brush.

Right click on your Layer Mask thumbnail and choose delete mask then add another 1 by going to
Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All and make sure the Mask is the active layer by checking if little black borders are around it.
Click on your Gradient tool (If you cant see it click and hold the Paint Bucket Tool until it pops up)
Your foreground colour should already be black and background white because of the Mask Layer but if not press D to reset them to default.
Go up to the Gradient Tool Bar at the top of the screen and use these settings:














Now go back to your image and click and drag anywere to see the effects, Viola! an instant blend.















Once your happy with the way your blend looks just right click on the Mask Layer and
choose Apply Mask then right click again and choose Merge Down.

Thats it!

Just remember when working with layer masks Black Reveals and White Conceals!! and it doesnt always have to be a brush you can use Gradients and the Paint bucket tool too (and probably tons more that i just havent figured out yet lol)

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial.