Precision Masks

Precision masks are a job for Photoshop, not Producer, and my favorite mask-creation method is the black & white tool. With the example goal of making a violet leap forward from its background, here’s the workflow:

1. Open the image in Photoshop and press Ctrl + J to copy the image to a layer. (Working on a copy leaves the original intact in case you need to refer back to it.)

2. With the copy in focus, go to Image > Adjustments > Black & White.

3. Run through all the options, choosing the one that creates the highest contrast between the object you want revealed by the mask and the parts you want hidden. (The violet worked best with the High Contrast Blue Filter.)

4. Move the color sliders associated with the filter close to or all the way to the right. (For the violet, I cranked up the blue and cyan to 300%.)

5. For those colors in the photo that you want to block, move the associated sliders well down into the minus range. (For the violet, a slid all the other colors down to -200%.)

6. Accept the changes, and then increase the contrast using Levels or Curves if necessary.

7. You’ll probably need to do black or white touch-ups with the paintbrush. (The violet’s background had white specks to paint with black, and the center of the violet needed to be painted with white. Reducing the opacity of the copy so I could see the original image helped guide me. With this completed, I returned the layer to 100% opacity.)

8. Flatten the image, and to make the file smaller and automatically recognized as a grayscale mask in Producer, convert it to grayscale and perform a Save As.

The original:

The mask:

The leaping violet:

A nice bonus is the cutout that you can use on any background:

Published in: on April 14, 2010 at 9:09 am  Comments (3)  
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  1. Wonderful Photoshop tip – must go try this for myself! Thanks.

  2. thanks so much for the lesson on masking.
    makes it simple. great job and thanks for all
    of your tips.

    • Alice, you’re more than welcome! I also benefit from these short articles because they force me to straighten out and simplify everything swirling around in my head. 🙂

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