CS5 Masks


Adobe Photoshop CS5 has upgraded the mask adjustment in an amazing and powerful way.

If you've ever tried to select out a difficult subject with really strange and fuzzy edges using previous versions of Photoshop then you know just how frustrating it can be.  That's not to say it couldn't be done but the process could be cumbersome and somewhat confusing.

The new Masks panel, at first glance, doesn't look like much but what it will do - oh my - it just seems like pure magic.

For instance, if you've ever tried to extract someone with little hair strands all over the place then you know just how frustrating it can be - even with all of the in-depth Photoshop tutorials available on the subject.

That frustration will now be part of the past as you breeze through those difficutl extractions.

Mask Panel


masks panel
This panel doesn't seem to be much, does it - but just wait until you see it in action!

The mask can be turned off and on with the little button outlined in red.

The Density of the mask can be lowered by lowering the Density slider.

Feathering can also be applied with the Feather slider.

The most useful button on the Masks Panel is Mask Edge.

Once you understand how it works you will be able to extract the most difficult and intricate subject from a variety of different backgrounds, including the most difficult extraction - hair.


The following three videos from the Russel Brown show will take you through an easy, a moderate and a more difficult extraction.


CS5 Masking Basics




Summary of the steps in the CS5 Masking Basics video ...

  1. Do a Quick Selection over the background to be removed.

  2. Add a Mask to the layer and Invert.

  3. Click the Mask Edges button.

  4. Put a checkmark in Show Radius  - this shows the transition areas.  Move the slider up and watch the radius grow.

  5. Un-check the Show Radius button and move the Radius down to show a small radius.  Click on the Refine Radius Brush and paint around the radius.

  6. Expand or Shrink the Mask with the slider.

  7. Adjust the Decontaminate Color slider.

CS5 Masking Magic






Summary of the Steps in the Masking Magic video ...

  1. Content Aware Fill tip.

  2. Select the background with Color Range.

  3. Create a Mask and Invert.

  4. Check Smart Radius and move up the Radius slider (Show Radius).

  5. Adjust the other sliders as needed.

  6. Decomntaminate the colors.

  7. Make a copy of the image layer and set the lower one to Screen Blend Mode.



Advanced Masking





Summary of the steps in the Advanced Masking video ...

  1. Select he Background with the Quick Select Tool and remember "Less is More".

  2. Create a mask and invert.

  3. Pass 1 - refine the mask around hard edges using the Adjust Edge Controls.  This cleans up thehard edges.  Click OK.

  4. Pass 2 - the hair.  Use the Refine Brush tool to paint on the hair's areas of transition and re-work as much as necessary.

  5. Select the Erase Refinements Tool, press the Alt/Option key and re-adjust the areas of transiiton.

  6. Decontaminate the colors and adjust other sliders as necessary.



Page Links

Mask Panel

Masking Basics

Masking Magic

Advanced Masking









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