Here is a very basic
Let's first start with a basic understanding of simple masking.
Any area that has been selected by almost any method can be turned
into a Quick Mask In PS CS3.
I am using a pretty average photograph for this illustration.
Here is our beginning with nothing done except a quick raw
conversion to tiff. Let's start with a very primitive Quick Mask.
In order for you to see more clearly what is going on I am going
to make a base layer of white with the lady as a top layer. Now,
using the selection tool, simply select the black areas. Now a mask
is designed to protect an area so I will need to INVERT to select
the lady. Select - Inverse.
At the very bottom of Layers pallet is a small gray square with a
white circle in it. It says Add
Layer Mask. Click on this for an
instant Quick Mask.
As you can see, this does a great job with
the hard lines of her arms and nightgown, and a lousy job with her
hair. Hmmm. Great tool for masking a sky, but not so good for hair!
Now there some very exotic ways
of masking in PS CS3 but these might take hours to explain in
However, here is Russel Brown's
great how-to video.
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As most of us are pretty pressed for time -
and especially professional photographers, it often pays to use a PS
plug-in. After looking carefully at many masking packages, I decided
on Fluid Mask 3 by Vertus.
This is the software that this tutorial will focus on.
Let's start with some basic principals:
1- Whenever possible shoot against a white
or black background. I have found that I have a little better luck
with hair that contrasts with the background. In experimenting I was
very surprised how well this software also works with blond hair
against a white background. I was
really surprised. Sometimes a PALE
blue sky works well. Or even clouds.
2- Fine hair works better when it is in
focus and clearly defined. Again, this is not totally necessary.
The sample lessons by
Fluid Mask 3
really make this software look deceptively easy to use - and it is
on simple subjects. When I followed the directions I always got less
than perfect results. To follow this tutorial,
download the free trial version and see if it
works for you.
Why spend money if you can't get it to work
Again, let's keep it simple! Click on each
image to enlarge - and then enlarge again to see where my cursor is.
Now, isn't this terrible? OK, this time let's select the
Delete area first - followed by the Blend
Extract brush. Then select, in the pull-down menu,
Auto Fill with keep.
Ah better! But look at the smudges!
So, now take the eraser tool and erase where the smudges and
artifacts are. Do a small section at a time. Now select the Blend
Extract brush and fill in the total area you just erased. To save
time, select the Camera tool and use it to draw a small rectangle.
Ah, better! Now click on the Create Cut
out. This is the small picture of two men - use the man on the right
side. If you continue on the other
areas you will end up with a perfect cut-out. Now apply and save.
The masked image is now in Photoshop.
name it. Because the mask is there permanently
I suggest a different save-as name.
The beauty of this is that this file can now be brought up months
from now. To use it, simply drag and drop onto any photograph of
your choice - or even a black fill layer.
Here is the finished product. The first two
are layered onto a bottom black fill layer so you can see the detail
better. be sure to click on the images to enlarge them.
As there are many, many ways to use this software, I have just
scratched the surface with this simple tutorial. Of course any
suggestions will always be warmly accepted. The separating of twigs and
branches is also pretty easy. It was used on the last image. Leaves,
also done in the last image, are a different lesson.