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Thread: Image Masking

  1. #1

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    Image Masking

    I am usually very good at finding things on the internet, and following instructions, but I am stumped. So, could anyone direct me to a very basic tutorial about making and using masks, please? What I would like to do is select parts of a photo for sharpening/tweaking.

    I have read and tried to follow the instructions of those on CinC, but I can only get so far and then it breaks down. All I can manage is to paint on a mask at random without any control over what is being selected on the photo and without being able to see, on the photo, what has been selected. Does this make sense?

    I've tried the HELP tutorials for Cs2 and Cs4 and, honestly, they did not help. I have my brush set to normal and have tried different colours and opacities. I tried Youtube and google searches, but without further success. Still can't see what I am doing on the photo. This is likely a very simple procedure. It makes me feel rather silly to have to ask, and I will likely feel very silly once I have it figured out. If there was a smilie for feeling sheepish, I would insert one.

    Thanks!
    Myra

    Edited to add: I just found the Ron Biglow tutorial after searching threads on CinC. I will check this out tonight.
    Last edited by Maritimer1; 28th May 2010 at 05:27 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Masks again

    Quote Originally Posted by Maritimer1 View Post
    ... and I will likely feel very silly once I have it figured out.
    Myra

    Yep, you probably will. But the important thing is that you don't worry about it. It's called learning!

    I'm a GIMP user, so anything I say probably wouldn't make sense (not much that I do say makes sense, come to think about it!). So I'll let all the PS people do their thing.

  3. #3

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    Re: Masks again

    Myra: I don't know if anything here will help or not. If you scroll past the "Sponsored Links" there are quite a few articles on using Masks in photoshop.


    http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/pho..._Photoshop.htm

  4. #4

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    Re: Masks again

    There is a lot of information about using masks and selections here http://www.ronbigelow.com/articles/articles.htm just scroll down and keep choosing from the many tutorials.

  5. #5

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    Re: Masks again

    I find it very usefull sometimes to make the mask visible. If you have the box with the list of layers as thumbnails visible, click the channels tab and tick the bottom box. That makes the mask show up as pink.
    Also, I often select something using the magic wand thingy and then click the add mask button on the list of layers box. The selection becomes the mask that way.

  6. #6

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    Re: Masks again

    Hi Myra,

    There's a number of ways to do it (it just wouldn't be Photoshop if there weren't!). Probably the easiest is to just use quick mask ...

    1. Press "D" to reset your foreground / background to the default white / black

    2. Press "Q" to enter quick mask

    3. Press "B" to select the brush tool (or shift-B until the bruch tool is selected)

    4. Set brush softness as desired

    5. Draw on your image to paint the mask (it's go red to show where you're painting)

    6. Press "Q" again to exit quick mask and return a selection around what you've painted (if it selects everything EXCEPT what you want then press Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection)

    Notes:

    - If you make a mistake then press "X" to swap the black/white and then just paint over the mistake to erase that part of the selection (while in quick mask mode).

    - If you want to save the selection then click SELECT -> SAVE SELECTION.

    Hope this helps

  7. #7
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    Re: Masks again

    Myra, you aren't the only one who finds masks a mystery, but Colin's suggestion looks very straightforward. Thanks Colin!!

  8. #8
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    Re: Masks again

    Myra,

    Colin's keyboard shortcuts will definitely help you out. There are a few ways to mask and since you mentioned for sharpening, here's my suggestion. I'll try to lay it out step by step for the novice and for future reference for anyone who reads this.

    - Start with your original layer and duplicate it.
    - Rename it "sharp"
    - Apply your sharpening as you normally would
    - Apply a layer mask (found on your layers palette & looks like a square with circle in it icon). The mask should be white by default. Now I will show you the alternate method; undo that initial layer mask by going to your history state or just trash it. Next click the layer mask icon again BUT this time HOLD DOWN THE ALT KEY. You should notice that this time the layer mask is black. Let's continue.
    - Now change to a soft brush to the size you need
    - Change your foreground to white

    Now lets say you want to sharpen the eyes of a photo, simply start brushing over the eyes and you should see it reflected in your layer mask to the right. If you mess up, change the foreground color to black and paint back out the problem areas.

    EXPLANATION:

    Having your mask black basically covers the whole sharpening that you just applied so basically you will paint back in only the areas you want affected by using a brush and a white foreground. And vice-versa with a white mask. How you start your mask, whether white or black is merely preference. But since you mentioned sharpening, and in portraits, I know most sharpen for eyes so for efficiency it's easier to apply a black mask as explained.

    Hope that helps and feel free to ask any questions.

  9. #9

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    Re: Masks again

    Incidentally, what Chris described can be used on a whole bunch of layers - I often use it on HSB & levels layers (the difference being that you don't duplicate the base layer - you just add an adjustment layer and then mask what it applies to - the rest is the same).

    It's very powerful stuff.

  10. #10

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    Re: Masks again

    Thanks ever so much for all the help. This has been a busy weekend without much time for sitting at the computer, but I will definitely be checking out all the advice.

    Wendy, remember that rain you warned me about? We've been getting it off and on all week. Do you think you could send your heat wave, please?


    Myra

  11. #11

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    Re: Masks again

    Wendy, remember that rain you warned me about? We've been getting it off and on all week. Do you think you could send your heat wave, please?
    Done! It's coming your way.

  12. #12

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    Re: Masks again

    Wendy and Geoff, those are great sites for tutorials. I didn't come across either one in my searches, so a big thank you for forwarding those! There are a lot of tutorials in both that I want to spend time with.

    Colin, you should write a book. Your instructions were on the mark and exactly what I was looking for. I took a photo of a rider friend yesterday and converted it to B&W. All was OK, except for a big splotch of sunlight on the bottom part of her face. (The rest was shaded by her helmet.) I needed a way to increase the lightness of the shaded area and tone down the too brightly lit area. I used your method and could see exactly what I was doing with the selection. Granted, it would have been a little easier if I had thought to hook up my daughter's little tablet... I used curves to lighten and then blended with the blur tool and a touch of cloning to match the tones as closely as I could. One question... of course... After fixing a mistake by using X, how does one go back to touch up with the brush? I tried B again, but that didn't work, or maybe I just messed it up.

    Chris, I also very much appreciate your instructions. They were easy to follow, but I had one issue. When I painted on my photo (I used the same one for practice) the spot was so small on the black mask that I really could not see it. OK, another question coming...Can the layer box with the mask be enlarged? I clicked around but didn't find anything to make the layers or masks larger. If I could just see what was happening on that mask, it would be another great method for me to use. Joanthan, thank you also for replying. Maybe you would have an idea as to how the mask can be seen more easily?

    This is the original (cropped with noise and USM)
    Image Masking\
    This is after fixing the crop and using the mask to fix the light on the face. Not perfect, but better.
    Image Masking

    Thank You!

    Myra

    Edited to add:
    Canon Rebel 75-300 Kit lens Shutter priority mode 1/250. f/6.7. ISO 100 (Wish I had set it to a higher shutter speed and maybe 200 ISO)
    Last edited by Maritimer1; 31st May 2010 at 02:41 AM.

  13. #13
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    Re: Masks again

    Myra,

    Yes, you can enlarge the thumbnail size on the palette. I use CS4 so when I click the drop down on the top right of the layer palette I see an option called "panel options". From there it will give you additional thumbnail sizes to choose from. Alternatively, if you ctrl click on the layer mask, you'll see an a selection of what was masked. That's also a good way to refine your mask outline.

  14. #14

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    Re: Masks again

    Quote Originally Posted by Maritimer1 View Post
    After fixing a mistake by using X, how does one go back to touch up with the brush? I tried B again, but that didn't work, or maybe I just messed it up.
    Just press "X" again to swap the black and white around again

  15. #15

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    Re: Masks again

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Just press "X" again to swap the black and white around again
    Well, that I did not try. Thanks, Colin!

    Myra

  16. #16
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    Re: Masks again

    This is after fixing the crop and using the mask to fix the light on the face.
    "By George, I think she's go it", to quote Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) in my 'My Fair Lady'.

  17. #17

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    Re: Masks again

    Quote Originally Posted by Maritimer1 View Post
    Well, that I did not try. Thanks, Colin!

    Myra
    No worries

    Another neat thing you can do with it is use shades of gray to paint the mask that will give you varying degrees of opacity ie if you use, say, only 10% gray, you can reveal an adjustment very gradually with fine-tip control.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 31st May 2010 at 08:19 PM. Reason: correct typo

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