• How to Whitewash Watery Photo Masks in Photoshop and PSE

    Katie Pertiet's Watery Photo Masks are a simple way to give your digital project a softly painted effect. One popular way to use the masks is to recolor them white to use as a layering element. In just a few clicks, the masks give the subtle effect of a white swatch of paint behind a photo or embellishment grouping.

    As with most things Photoshop, there are a number of ways to "whitewash" with these professionally designed images. Here are several ways to get this effect. Choose the method that feels most comfortable with your own workflow.

    Each Watery Mask download comes with an ABR brush file in addition to PNG image files of each of the masks.

    Whitewash Using the PNG version of Watery Photo Masks:

    • Begin by opening a piece of digital paper or a project already in progress and a mask in Photoshop or PSE. Use the PNG version of the mask for this method.
    • Get the Move tool and drag the mask onto your background paper.
    • Make sure that the mask layer is selected (highlighted in the Layers panel.) Press Ctrl U (Mac: Cmd U) on the keyboard. This activates the Hue/Saturation dialog box.
    • Drag the lightness slider all the way to the right. This removes the color of the mask, leaving it white. Click OK to accept the color change.
    • Above the Layers panel, locate the Opacity slider. Drag the slider to the left until the wash is as transparent as you'd like.


    Another shortcut for recoloring the masks uses the Foreground and Background colors.

    • Locate the tool bin on the left side of the screen and check the color chips at the bottom of the bin. If the colors are not black on the left/ white on the right, press D on the keyboard. This stands for "default" which gives you black and white color chips.
    • Select the mask layer in the layers panel and locate the "Lock Transparent Pixels" icon which looks like a checkerboard above the layers panel. Toggling this on by clicking it tells the software that you only want to affect the portion of the layer that has the image visible. You'll know it's activated because it places an icon on the right side of the layer in the layers panel.
    • Press Ctrl Backspace (Mac: Cmd Backspace) to fill the layer with the background color (white.)


    Using the ABR Brush Version:

    • Begin by loading the ABR Brush file into Photoshop or PSE. Refer to this tip if you need help with this step. It will walk you through the process of loading the brush file into your software.
    • Open a digital paper and then create a new blank layer by pressing the Create a New Layer icon in the Layers panel. The document will have two layers, the background a blank layer. Make sure that the new layer is the selected layer in the Layers panel.
    • Change the Foreground color chip at the bottom of the tools bin to white. Just click it and choose white from the color picker or click the bent arrow if the colors are set to default.
    • Choose the Brush Tool from the tools panel. In the Tool Options, select one of the Watery Mask brushes you loaded in the first step. Click on the new blank layer to apply the brush in white.
    • The image will be on its own layer and can be resized, moved or deleted independent of the background. You can also reduce the opacity or change the blending mode of the layer to blend the watery wash into the background.


    Any of these methods will create a whitewashed block that can be creatively layered into your design. You can make it bold by leaving it at full opacity or create a more subtle effect by reducing the opacity or changing the blending mode.