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I'm looking for a way to basically mark a specific area where, if i'm painting/smudging/blurring/etc, it won't be affected.

For example, say I am trying to add color to sharp edges, I could use this tool to mark outside of the edge, so I can be more "reckless" with the brush. When the marks are removed, the color/smudge/etc hasn't affected the area under the mark.

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    Its called masking
    – joojaa
    Sep 13, 2015 at 20:15
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    Problem is, this hint will lead people to layers masks, and those will not prevent modifications to the masked area. A little more sophistication (e.g. working on a copy of a layer, with a suitable mask added to it) is necessary. Sep 28, 2015 at 7:26

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I'm very sorry if this doesn't answer the question you asked, but what I always do when I need to do this stuff is:

  1. Select the area I don't want to mark on
  2. Select > Invert Selection

From there I can just paint and it doesn't affect the area I had selected! This method works very well with painting, blurring and smudging!

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