Coming from a landscape background, I learned to do most of basic my post-processing in Lightroom. As my photography continued to evolve over the last few years, I’ve kept a dirty little secret: I barely know how to do anything in Photoshop.

Now that my client base has grown and I’m working in a more diverse range of genres, I knew it was time to face the intimidating beast also known as Photoshop. So when I was given the opportunity to try Nicolesy’s Layers & Masks Masterclass Video Training for Photoshop, I jumped on the opportunity.

The course creator is Nicole S. Young, a professional photographer and author based in Oregon, USA. Young’s love of teaching has led her to create a variety of tools and educational content for photographers of all abilities. Her latest endeavor sets out to provide thorough video-based training on Photoshop’s cornerstone features, Layers and Masking.

Editor’s note: Nicolesy sent us her masterclass to review and keep. However, this is an independent review. All thoughts about this product are our own. We have not been influenced in any way. We tell you this as we always want to be transparent with you.

Want to save on Nicolesy’s Layers & Masks Masterclass Video Training for Photoshop? Use the code PHOTOFOCUS to get 20% off!

Getting started with the Layers and Masks Masterclass

course lessons

Once you’ve ordered and paid for the masterclass, you will receive an email with a link to download the course. Because the modules are all video-based, allow about half an hour to download all of the content. The course contains just over six hours of video training. I personally took two days to go through the course, as I also spent time pausing the videos to follow along in Photoshop.

Pages 84-86 of the workbook contain lists of handy keyboard shortcuts.

The course is comprised of nine different chapters. Each chapter is broken down into small, easily digestible video segments. The longest video is 25 minutes, but most are under 10 minutes.

Also provided is an 88-page workbook that acts as a table of contents, as well as a notebook. However, because this comes in a PDF format, I didn’t use it to take notes. Having each labeled video saved on my computer, I think it will be easier to just go back to specific segments in the future to refresh myself on them. What I do recommend is printing out pages 84-86 as they contain a handy list of keyboard shortcuts.

Diving in

layers and mask masterclass training
A yellow highlighted cursor allows you to easily follow along with the workflow during the video demonstrations.

The course starts by introducing the fundamentals of layers and setting up your workspace in Photoshop. It then does a deeper dive into adjustment layers, blending modes and managing layers. Chapters 6–8 cover masking and selections and channels. Finally, chapter nine ties it all together by walking you through real-world examples with the provided project files.

For someone like me who is pretty new to Photoshop, I did find myself getting a bit lost here and there. But the beauty of this course is that each section is really short so it’s easy to go back over specific sections. I really appreciated not having to wade through tons of content each time I wanted to refresh on something.

keyboard shortcuts
Easy-to-read keyboard shortcuts are displayed on the screen every time one is used in the tutorials.


  • Short, to the point videos for each topic
  • Explanations of each topic are followed by practical examples in Photoshop
  • Visual prompts pop up each time a keyboard shortcut is used
  • The cursor has a yellow circle around it which allows you to easily follow along with her process
  • Downloadable project files allow you to practice while you learn
  • Eight practical hands-on projects at the end allow you to put what you’ve learned into practice


  • I would have liked to see prompted hands-on learning throughout the course, not just at the end (of course, you can stop and do this on your own at any time)
  • I would have appreciated more practical, common examples such as masking out a light stand and assistant with a plate shot versus some of the other artsy types of demonstrations

Overall impressions of Nicolesy’s Layers & Masks Masterclass

layers and masks masterclass
The visual layout of the course is clean and easy to follow.

Overall I was pretty impressed with this course. I loved the simple, clear layout. The narration is concise and clear without bogging you down with too much information. Having the visual aids for each keyboard shortcut pop up every time she used one really helped me memorize them throughout the course.

I appreciate that I have the content stored on my computer which will allow me to quickly access modules in the future as needed. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in learning about masking and layers in Photoshop.

Want to save on Nicolesy’s Layers & Masks Masterclass Video Training for Photoshop? Use the code PHOTOFOCUS to get 20% off!