Using Layer Masks to Create Transparency in Photoshop Elements

Last week I wrote a tutorial on Using Layer Masks to Create Transparency.  That tutorial was written for Photoshop users.  Today I would like to cover the same topic, focusing on Photoshop Elements.

In Photoshop Elements, we will use different tools to create the same effect.

Here is the original photo I will be using today. I took this picture when my husband and I were visiting Ireland; we were taking a horse-drawn buggy ride through the amazing green forests of Killarney.


I duplicated my original photograph, and then hid the original by clicking on its layer icon.  This kept it handy in case I wanted to discard my work and start all over again.

Next, using the elliptical marque tool, I drew an oval selection on my photograph.


Then I went to the top Menu Bar and chose:  Select > Refine Edge.


Doing so immediately put a mask on the inverse of the selection.  This was reflected on my photograph as a white area.  Also, the Refine Edge box opened.  This is where I will make any adjustments that I would like to make.


Focusing on the options in “Adjust Edge” area,  I played with the sliders and settled on a Feather of 42 px. But you can play with any of the Adjust Edge sliders, by moving them to the right, to get a variety of interesting looks.

I made sure the “Output to” was set to New Layer, then clicked okay. This put my featherd selection on its own layer.  I then clicked on the eye icon on the photo to turn it off.



Now all I had to do was drop a paper from Lassie Brianna underneath the selection. And in trying to replicate the Photoshop tutorial exactly, I also added Irish Lace Corner #3, applied Irish Lace Style #1 to it, duplicated then flipped the Corner, and placed the corners at the top of the layout.

So here is the final result using Photoshop Elements:


And here is the result using the full version of Photoshop:


I can see that I created a larger feathered edge when I worked in Photoshop Elements, and my selection was also a little smaller, but those were just choices that were made during the process.

Here is a little shadowing tip that works well for anything, but especially for something as delicate as the Irish Lace products.  These products are pre-shadowed for your convenience, but if you want just a slightly larger shadow, and use one of the shadows built into Photoshop Elements, you might find them rather harsh.  One way to fix that is to change the shadow color from the pre-set black to a color that is found in your layout. To do that apply the shadow that you would like, then click on the FX icon on the layer in order to open the Style Settings box.  Use the eye dropper tool to select one of the darker colors in your background paper.  I selected one of the dark green colors, then played with the Size, Distance, and Opacity sliders until I was happy with the result.


If you would like to create a frame, at this point, you would just  need to click on the thumbnail of your feathered selection (this will select it, and you will see marching ants around the selection); click on the background paper layer; then hit delete.  This will remove the feathered selection from the background paper.  Turn the visibility of the feathered selection off (by clicking on the eyeball icon), and the result will be a lovely frame that you can use for any purpose.  Put your page title inside the transparent area of the frame, add your favorite poem, quote, or journaling.

You may click on the image below to download this frame for your own use!


Comments (5)

  1. Carol

    Thanks so much for making this tut for PSE. I copied everything so I can refer to it as I try it without having to go on the internet.

    February 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm
  2. I’m always amazed at how many different ways there are of doing something …. this is the way I get the same effect …. click on marquee tool, set feathering at the bottom, click on select and inverse and then hit the backspace key which removes the background….it uses less steps and is quicker but your way gives me more options which I didn’t know I had….you can’t actually see your feathering either until you hit the backspace my way but it works lol … thank you for more information than I had before 🙂 … SuCanDo

    February 24, 2014 at 3:38 pm
  3. […] Using Layer Masks to Create Transparency in Photoshop Elements – 2 freebie(s) […]

    February 24, 2014 at 10:04 pm
  4. I am trying to create my first TRUE Quick page with a transparent cut out and these are the best instructions I’ve found. Thank you!

    July 23, 2016 at 4:17 pm
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