This may be a quick tip, but I guarantee you will love it. I jumped for joy when I figured it out.
Let’s face it, using textures is all about using layers and layer masks. Becoming a Layer Ninja will make your work so much easier. You’ll get there, one tip at a time.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been working on a layer mask with the brush when I pause to do something like try a different layer order, then I resume working on the layer mask — or at least I think I am — and then discover I’ve been painting on my texture and not the layer mask. grrrrrrrr. It’s not always easy to see while you are working, either. The file may just look like this:
See, it’s pretty subtle. Sometimes, I’ll just be puzzled that the brush doesn’t seem to be doing quite what I expected. I can usually go back to history in Photoshop and undo the brush work, but it’s a pain and I’ve just lost all the work I just did.
Here’s what the layer panel looks like. See how the brushwork shows up on the texture? This is now a destructive edit. If I were to save this file and close it, I wouldn’t be able to change that texture without re-importing it and re-doing the brushwork on the layer mask.
So what’s a Layer Ninja to do? Ah, we have secret weapons that make us invincible. Lock that baby down! That’s right. We can partially lock down a layer so that we cannot paint on it. See the Lock menu at the top of the Layer Panel? If you click on the paint brush icon, you can no longer paint on the layer. This does not affect painting on the layer mask. While you’re at it, also lock down the Move tool next to the paintbrush, this will prevent you from accidentally nudging your texture and getting a tiny sliver of layer misalignment along the side of your image. It’s happened to me more often than I care to admit!
So, my advice? As soon as you’ve placed your texture, partially lock it down for headache free editing.
The texture used here is called Melon Margarita and is in the Les Textures I collection.