For my father, Alexander Peter Eismann,
whose long life has inspired me to be caring, curious, and consciencious.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Introduction, and Sample Chapter

Reader Comments


Table of Contents

Part 1: Selection Tools & Techniques

Chapter 01: The Creative Process and Configuring Photoshop

    • A Brief History of Combining Images
    • Types of Image Composites
    • The Imagemaking Journey
    • Photoshop Preferences
    • Color Settings
    • Configuring the Color Settings
    • Color Management Policies

Chapter 02: Selection Strategies and Essentials

    • What is a Selection?
    • Types of Selections
    • Generic Shape Selections
    • Form-based Selections
    • Color and Tone Selections
    • Combining Tools
    • Working with Quick Mask

Chapter 03: The Essential Select Menu

    • Select Menu Introduction
    • Color Range
    • Feather
    • The Modify Menu
    • Transform Selection
    • Save and Load Selection
    • Moving Channels and Selections

Chapter 04: Pen Tool Power

    • When to Use the Pen Tool
    • Complex Paths and Combining Paths
    • Working with Paths
    • Combining Paths and Selections

Part 2: Working with Layers and Masks

Chapter 05: Masks Are Your Friends

    • Types of Photoshop Masks
    • Working with Alpha Channels
    • The Five Steps to Alpha Mastery
    • Creative Techniques Using Alpha Channels
    • Vector Masks

Chapter 06: Layers Are Your Friends

    • Working with Layers
    • Types of Layers
    • layer Palette Anatomy
    • Finessing Layers
    • Working with Image Effects Layers

Chapter 07: The Power of Layer Masking

    • Working with Layer Masking
    • Merging Photographic Exposures

Part 3: Selecting and Preserving Fine Detail

Chapter 08: Selecting Hair and Fine Detail

    • Accentuating Differences
    • Finding the Mask Within
    • Working with the Extract Filter

Chapter 09: Advanced Selection Techniques

    • Opposites and Differences Attract
    • The Multi-Pass Technique
    • Image Calculations

Chapter 10: Selecting Translucency and Green Screen Techniques

    • Glass and Translucency
    • Selecting Motion and Cloth
    • Playing with Fire, Smoke, and Fireworks
    • Blue Screen and Green Screen Techniques

Part 4: Photorealistic and Creative Compositing

Chapter 11: Image Concept and Execution

    • Executing the Image
    • Photography for Compositing
    • Photographic Essentials

Chapter 12: Photorealistic Compositing

    • Photorealistic Compositing Details, Details, Details
    • Matching Perspective
    • Enhancing Focus and Atmosphere
    • Harmonizing Light and Shadow
    • Matching Color and Image Texture
    • Shaping Image Elements

Chapter 13: Creative Compositing

    • Images and Inspiration
    • Essentials of Image Composition
    • Combining Images Subjectively
    • Overcoming a Creative Block
    • Personal Signifiers

Foreword & Introduction

Download a PDF of the foreword by Pedro Meyer
Download a PDF of the introduction by Katrin Eismann that addresses who the book is for and what is covered in the book.

Download a PDF of chapter 7 "Layers Are Your Friends"

Reader Comments

As a digital photographer, I was skeptical about ordering a book on masking as I assumed the audience was primarily aimed at graphic artists. I was very surprised to find this book an absolute essential for all digital photographers. It's exceptionally well written and easy to follow. It has numerous techniques that other books just gloss over without explanation of what happens beneath the covers of Photoshop. I'd strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to go to the next stage of Photoshop. It not only explains various techniques for masking, it also gives you knowledge of layers and channels. Well done Katrin, an excellent book.

I was addicted to Photoshop books, I have been buying them since version 4. I love this program so much I just couldn't help myself buying books that might, just might teach me something new. Most of them covered the same ground over and over, but I still needed to keep buying them. That was until I came across this gem and "Restoration and Retouching" (sister title).

With these two books my thirst is finally clenched, I don't need any more books. They cover every aspect of Photoshop; they explain every technique and its variations. Most importantly they stimulate creative thinking and experimentation. The most useful "tricks" these books have taught me have been variations on the techniques they explain, that I have come up with by myself, but that I could not have thought of without the books. Buy them!

This book is not cheap but an absolute must have for any Photoshop artist who wants to master masking, selections and layers. Any book which succeeds in taking all the hard work out of mastering the Pen tool is surely worth a closer look.

Although a graphic artist with some years experience of Photoshop, I have learnt so much from this book in just a couple days. Katrin writes with authority, humour and such infectious enthusiasm that I defy anyone not be be well and truly inspired after reading her book. Whether new to Photoshop or a seasoned pro, there is something in Katrin's book for everyone.

"Masking and Compositing" is extensively illustrated, extremely easy to follow and explains everything clearly and benefits from a dedicated website where you can download tutorial files. A truly inspirational and indispensable book and if you admire the photo montage work of artists such as Alicia Buelow, Diane Fenster et al, this book is full of techniques and suggestions which will enable your Photoshop collages to truly shine.

I've been using Photoshop for a few years to edit my photos and thought I had a relatively good grasp of it. However, every chapter of this book has taught me HEAPS of new tips and innovative techniques that I've never seen anywhere else. The fact that there are so many walk-throughs makes it easy to try things out and the book has hundreds of colour photos to illustrate the techniques.

If you want to make life easier for yourself when it comes to photo editing or if you're interested in discovering the best ways to use selections, masks, paths etc you need this book.

Buy it, you won't regret it - you'll be in Photoshop heaven!

Dear Katrin,

I consider myself lucky that I had the impulse to choose your "Photoshop Masking & Compositing" book in our national library one day last summer. I studied it during the next month – at first not knowing what I had laid my hands on. I have never before found such a book about this topic, and this field is my job.

So I thank you very much for all what you've put into it from all what you knew. Thank you, too, for all the effort and generosity of offering so many well-structured information open to the public on your website.  

Studying your book that was a really amazing job. I work with Photoshop since 12 years in design and in lithographic studios. Since one year I'm a freelancer and I started to create my own design projects for presentations and for enlarge my metier. I ever knew that "learning by doing" is really too short, but my Photoshop working was pretty much a frustrating patchwork regardless of my love to this program. Though having read quite a lot books. So I was following thankfully your precise steps and your challenging surveys – and very inspiring projects. This way the program Photoshop comes to me more and more a whole idea.

I give you some examples fot it. Your information about the neutral colours in blend modes lets me reach my targets much faster and offered much news as using the super high pass. I never before got the idea to use the dodge and burn for cleaning edges in masks. When I saw your fencer picture I thought: "incredible"! And this is still giving spur and inspiration to me. What light can do as it does in our real world. After my studies in the library I was regarding my portfolio and I noticed that my eyes had been changed. I adapt nearly all my images of the whole portfolio to bring out things that didn't had been possible before. And, in the majority of cases, what I didn't realise before when regarding the pictures. Therefore it was a very profitable work to show the original idea with the ability for it.  

And I want you to say that your books reads well and it is so helpful not to find any gap in the instruction. I never found such an effort in a book of this topic! By the way the German translation is very good and it is easy to find in a bookshop now.

So your "Photoshop Masking & Compositing" – and after it also "Restoration and Retouching" – let me had a second launch in Photoshop. And I'm going on with it with much more power and passion.

Very kind regards,

I've been working with your book for a few weeks now and find that it is as magnificent as I hoped it would be, and indeed expected it to be by you. Really terrific.

There are so many things that I value it for - the meticulous step-by-step instructions, the 'bonus' section on compositing (because I was expecting a book only on selections and masking), - but for me the heart of the book was the superb section on masking. There are more techniques here on masking than in all the other books that I've read combined. What's more, you've changed the way I look at things like blend modes when it comes to masking.

Great book, Katrin. If I said I wouldn't have expected anything less from you, it would be true but not doing justice to the enormous work you've clearly put into it.

Thank you,

I just want to say "Thank you" for your superb book, which has been a real source of revelation and inspiration to me. In just a couple of evenings of looking through your book, I have learnt so much and the Pen tool which I never ever dared use or mention in polite company has now become my firm friend and life will never be the same again!

My realm of work is in darkly atmospheric almost gothic photomontages similar to the works of Alicia Buelow and Diane Fenster and your book has clearly explained techniques that I have previously seen and wondered how on earth they were achieved. Your tutorials are excellent and I am enjoying working through them (even the Pen Tool ones!)

Thanks ever so much for this book, it’s a real godsend to me and I daresay many other Photoshoppers across the world and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Kind regards,
Steve S
Folkestone, UK

I previously enjoyed and benefitted from Photoshop Restoration & Retouching, and am now doing the same with Photoshop Masking & Compositing. I hope you write many more books on similar subjects.

You do so many things so well, that it is hard to decide which of them to comment on, but let me try: You have a deep understanding of the technology of photography and the manipulation of images. You are able to communicate complex subjects with rare effectiveness. You are an experimenter, and an artist. Through it all, your essential humanity peeps, tantalizes, and entertains.

Thank you for all of this.
Tom C.

I would like to congratulate you on your new book: Photoshop Masking and Compositing. There are loads and loads of Photoshop books out there but only a few which are definitive key works. This is one of them. Full marks!

Victor A

I just wanted to take the time to thank you for creating another work of art. Your latest book is a wealth of knowledge.  With the overabundance of Photoshop books, one has to have a discerning eye when it comes time to make the purchase. I'm never disappointed with your books.  It has become somewhat of a second nature to not question the worth of your latest endeavors. 

Once again, THANK YOU!
George H

I have used and taught Photoshop for several years and have read a library's worth of books on the subject. Your book, Photoshop Masking & Compositing, is now my number one book. I especially appreciate your common sense and clear language approach to explaining the preferences, color settings and color management approaches. New users to Photoshop particularly seem to a have a difficult time grasping this information and from your book I learned ways to present these subjects in a way that is, hopefully, more understandable and less confusing.

Edward L.

Thanks for your latest book! I'm only on page 102 now, but I've just finished the section on Pen Tool Power and I'm stoked. I've used the pen only when absolutely necessary, and then fought with it myself. Pen Tool Power is a great chapter.

James H.


I began reading the chapter 4 and immediately thought someone must have given you a lobotomy with a pen tool. How could anyone in their right mind advocate using the tool that made crazy uncontrolable curves as a precision selection tool? Idiot that I am, I dove ahead and gave it a try. Within 30 minutes of practicing with your examples I had tamed the beast.

I am a convert - thanks!
Bob Rosenbaum

Hi Katrin, I just bought your book today and I am over the moon with it :-)) For years I have been hoping somebody would bring out such a book and now it is here.

Have a great day,
Peter W.
Syndey Australia

RUN DON'T WALK, AND GET THIS NEW BOOK It is the best book I have ever seen on masking. I never stop learning Photoshop, and I am learning so much from this hands on book.

Peter O.

Good morning Katrin,

The book finally arrived in last night's mail, and so far I've only managed to scan it quickly. But I wanted to give you my initial impressions. Summed up - in one word - WOW!! When I open the cover of any new book for the first time, I take a close look at the Table of Contents, as well as the book's Index. I've found these to be a good indication of what's to come. I did this with your new book and I was positively delighted with what I found. For one thing, I noted that you've devoted 30 pages to a pen tool tutorial- something, which I need, desperately. The pen tool is NOT my friend. It is my nemesis- my enemy. As a matter of fact, I was planning to ask your advice in helping me find a good textbook on the subject of pen tool. I took the opportunity to look thru those 30 pages, and I was very impressed. I have a feeling that by the time

I've completed that chapter, I'll have a much better understanding of the wretched pen. So far, after well over an entire semester of classes, I just haven't been able to get a good grasp of the concept of the Bezier. Your text appears to me to be something of a godsend. Maybe I'll start my lessons right there. As far as I'm concerned, Katrin, if it resolves my many problems with the pen tool, the book will more than pay for itself.

My initial impression, for what it's worth, is that this may well be your best effort yet. Like the other two books I have, this one looks to be very well written, and to clearly and thoroughly explain masking and compositing. I plan to spend some time over the next few weeks exploring its contents more thoroughly.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you, Katrin. 
Bob Pike 

Hi Katrin, 

You asked me to let you know my thoughts on the new book. I have read and studied only the first 110 pages so far but I love it!  You have a real knack for teaching. It also is the in depth book I desired.  I have struggled with the Devil Tool (aka Pen Tool) for about 18 months and had pretty much abandoned it.  Your chapter is helping a great deal.

Congratulations on a great book!

Dear Ms. Eismann,

I have earlier purchased your "Restoration & Retouching" and just yesterday found "Masking & Compositing" at my favorite bookseller (Borders). Your two volumes rate highest in my library of 'how to' books on using Photoshop. You have done a marvelous job with both.

Thank you!
Grey W.
Concord, CA


I'm just halfway Masking & Compositing but I can't wait to send you this  email with my greatest compliments ! F a n t a s t i c  !!

Chapter 4, the pen tool, is a tuff one. But I will work through it again and again until I'll shout out: "The Pen Tool, that's real fun" !

Thanks again for writing the book. It's great fun to read because, even for a Dutchman it reads easy and the exercises and examples are really great!

Theo S.
Maastricht, Holland


I have been using layers, masks, and RAW double processing for some time, loving every minute, so the chapters were not such a "shock" to me! However, you've highlighted so many seemingly small points (like the filter versions of the select menu), keystrokes, and things to look for. Brilliant!

There are only two problems:

  1. I'm now finding compositing flaws in books and adverts that I couldn't see before!
  2. There are so many possibilities now I have reached a creative block for the moment (before I knew where I was with PS, now there's almost too much to explore!)

I've been trying a few things out, like this sky replacement that took all of about 15 minutes including adjustments:

I daren't tell them how quick it was to do!! Now I find I have to go back to "Restoration and Retouching" to relearn some techniques that have a new use!

Thank you so much for another very informative book!
Kind regards,
Matt P.

Hi Katrin,

The book arrived today. Amazing since it came the slow way with Amazon's free shipping. But more amazing is the book. I've only had a chance to browse through it, and it seems that you have done an incredible job. Thank you for writing it.

Soooo much to learn.
Your fan,


In response to your email announcement of its availability, I just got "Masking and Compositing."  It is excellent, just as helpful (maybe more) as "Restoration and Retouching." 

Thanks for the great books and your help!
Roy S.
Albany, NY

Just wanted to compliment you on another great book. I’m only on page 49 and have already got some things straight; things that have caused me difficulty for so long. It certainly pays to read all your chapters, unlike so many Photoshop books. I will most likely be up half the night.

Kathleen P.


Dear Ms Eismann,

On a recent trip to Singapore I happened across "Photoshop Masking & Compositing" and have not been able to sleep well since. The explanations (unlike many other books of this type) are concise and consistently on-topic.

Thank you for your work,
Jeff R.


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During my "photo retouching" lecture this semester, I added a field trip to Katrin Eismann's 'Diva' site to witness the works of she and her readers. When you see work like that, it's easy to understand why we hold Katrin's books at the highest recommendation level. She's good... very good. Her books are just as good.

Photoshop artist and educator Katrin Eismann takes readers through numerous step-by-step examples, highlighting the tools and techniques used for masking and combining images. Featuring work by leading artists and photographers, this book focuses on the techniques used to create compelling compositions, including making fast and accurate selections, mastering Photoshop's masking tools, and implementing the concept and photography from start to finish.

The book addresses working with Photoshop's selection tools; selecting and maintaining fine details and edges; working with difficult image elements, such as cloth, hair, or translucent objects; and green-screen techniques. Katrin also addresses the creative aspects of image compositing, including how to start with a concept, plan and execute the photography, and seamlessly assemble the image. Combining technical direction and inspiration, this book will expand readers' imaginations, so they can fluidly and professionally create images with Photoshop.

Review of Photoshop Masking & Compositing by David Biedny in Episode 2 (August 28, 2005) featured on the Attention Photoshoppers podcast.

I agree completely. I just counted all the Photoshop books I have on my shelf. What I have learned from "Masking & Compositing" probably equals what I have learned from the other 15 Photoshop books I own. Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not much.

Katrin assumes you have the basic Photoshop skills necessary to navigate around the palettes and a good understanding of what can be done in PS. She then brings this knowledge together to create a workflow that is actually useful and efficient. She shows you the various ways things can be done, then tells you why she uses one technique over another. If you "master" the techniques in this book, I would estimate you would be in the very top shelf of the Photoshop community.

I've got a long way to go, but Katrin's book has given me a roadmap to follow. She has been able to put esoteric concepts, such as "vision" , into concrete procedures designed to produce the desired results.

I've read the book twice, and am now going thru it in great detail for the third time using a collection of photos I have taken specifically for learning the concepts in this book. Her discussions of photographic techniques for Photoshop is invaluable. That's enough, in a word .... AWESOME