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I would like to achieve an effect in Photoshop that involves airbrushing flames, similar to what is done in this video:

enter image description here

However, I can't figure out a way to mask the canvas from part of the brush (basically what he does with the stencil). Any tips on how to do this? Sorry if it's obvious, but I'm pretty new to the software!

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Basically you simply need to create the stencil shape on a layer, however is easiest for you.

stencil

Once you have the stencil layer it's a repeated process....

  • place location of stencil
  • Command/Ctrl-click the stencil layer thumbnail to load selection
  • Choose Select > Inverse (Command/Ctrl+Shift+I)
  • Paint
  • Deselect (Command/Ctrl+d)
  • repeat

It can be made a great deal easier with Photoshop though.

All you need to do is paint this once:

once

Then simply duplicate, move and transform the layer to create additional instances of it.

enter image description here

In fact, you could create a custom brush with that single figure and then simply brush on the various base objects.

However, individually painting each figure does offer some variation in the paint which will not be present when duplicating layers or using a custom brush. Using the stencil layer and repeating is the best method for some natural variation to the flames.

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