Mastering the masking feature in Photoshop is vital in producing complex artwork which can be re-edited at a later date. To achieve a complex mask system the digital artist must have the skills to make detailed choice. This will be achieved either with the standard selection tools or the quick selection tool.
1 – Quick Mask
The advanced selection can be achieved in number of ways. By using a brush with the ‘quick mask button’ enabled. This techniques will create a red cover over the required area. The user will convert this by turning off the quick selection button leaving a selection of marching ants. The selection must be inverted to select the original painted areas. The user can toggle back and forward from Mask mode to bitmap selection mode by pressing Q.
2 – Pixel Based
This technique is created using your standard Bitmap selection tools. As a general standard the digital artist should consider using the quick selection tool to achieve the first choice. Next use the polygonal lasso tool to fine tune the object, adding and deleting were required.
3 – Convert and Modifying the Selection to a Mask
When the outline has been achieved the artist will convert this to a mask by selecting the ‘ F3502 face coverings‘ button in the masks palette. The areas inside the selection will be white, the area outside the marching ants will be black. The artist will modify the output by painting with the appropriate brush. The areas to be modified can be constrained by making a selection of the areas to be modified using a bitmap selection tool. Photoshop will only allow the user to paint inside the active area allowing the user to achieve a detailed result.
4 – Using the Refine Edge Feature
The refine edge feature will allow us to further edit the mask using ‘edge detection’, ‘adjust edge’, and ‘output’ techniques. To activate this section the artist will make a mask. Next they will select the ‘mask edge’ command in the mask palette. This will open the refine edge dialogue. The user will adjust the sliders appropriately to achieve the optimum selection. The artist can subtract and add to the selection using the ‘refine radius’ tool.
5 – Outputting
Depending on the final output the artist must choose a suitable output option. The main options will include ‘new layer with layer mask’, ‘new layer’, ‘new document’ or new document with layer mask’. The most useful technique tends to be ‘new layer with layer mask’. This will output the selection to its own unique layer, with the original selection appropriately masked. The user now has the option of editing the mask without interfering with the original image.
The ability to re-edit the object is a primary advantage of using a mask. How we achieve the original selection will depend on the digital artists preferred technique. They may prefer the quick mask method or the bitmap selection method. A disadvantage of the quick mask option tends to be its inability to make a detailed selection quickly. Unlike the bitmap tools which allow the artist to quickly make the selection using tools such as quick selection and magic wand.