I've been sucking down on-line tutorials, I've been reading books, I've been learning how to do things in Photoshop. Yesterday, it came to a screeching stop. I'd learned enough for a while. I needed to let it all settle in. So I walked away from the computer for a bit and let myself think of other things. It worked. Today, I'm ready to leap back into things.
"How to Cheat in Photoshop" is the first book I've read that explains the Quick Mask in a way that makes sense. Instead of lots of technobabble about layers that I am not yet grasping and pictures that are half masked and half not, Steve simply directed that I set up the Quick Mask so that color indicates selected areas, instead of the default where color indicates masked areas.
I create a selection that way, not a hole in a layer where the action is visible. My brain works with selections. Using Steve's method, I get marching ants where I expect them to be. I turn on Quick Mask, I paint what I want selected, I tun off Quick Mask and I get marching ants around where I've selected. Then I perform the action I choose on that area. I don't have to remember to paint with black to reveal or to paint with white to hide, because I can't ever remember if I'm hiding the effect or hiding the layer from the effect. Eventually, I'll be able to use Quick Masks with the default setting, but I can't see that I'll ever need to.