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  #1  
Old May 12th, 2013, 09:52 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Default Masks in Photoshop

Recent events regarding the future of Photoshop have stimulated renewed interest in other image editors.

An important aspect of Photoshop is its elaborate layer structure, and in contemplating other editors, considerable attention is given to their capabilities (if any) in that vein.

Separate from, but in many ways related to, Photoshop's layer facilities is its mask facility. There are three-and-a-half kinds of masks in Photoshop, but one of them is never recognized in the documentation as a mask, another one has a misleading name, and one that is called a mask isn't really a mask at all.

Two year ago, when I had one of my periodic fleeting periods of interest in Photoshop, I decided to find out what that was all really about. When I had finished, mostly recognizing that a month hence I would have no idea what I had determined, I wrote a "little" (21 page) technical article about the matter, "The Secret Life of Masks in Photoshop".

Those of you earnestly looking into just what we have in Photoshop and what we have elsewhere might find it of interest. It is available here:

http://dougkerr.net/Pumpkin/articles...shop_Masks.pdf

Best regards,

Doug
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  #2  
Old May 12th, 2013, 12:00 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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A great article, Doug! BTW, is May 19th your b'day too? I'll tell Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh!

A follow up on competing programs that could replace PS would be a great contribution to everyone struggling with the now exorbitant price of PS.

Asher
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Old May 12th, 2013, 12:17 PM
Chris Calohan Chris Calohan is offline
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For a non-engineer type, I found that read as exciting as taking a shower with a raincoat on...it is explicit and it does expain in great detail, both with some degree of sensibility and a lot of mathematical succor how a mask operates....but...

Fortunately, some of the folks at NIK and other software developers probably figured this out for themselves and promptly left it on a side table, developing products which allow an artist/photographer the ability to paint in those effects wanted and ignore the rest of the selection without knowing t= C over 256 at 1.25 or the like.

I do appreciate the study and the time it took for you to develop this treatise and I did find it to be a good read despite its sterile approach. I've worked with numerous engineers over the course of my life and to a T, you are all the same in dissecting simplicity... ;-}
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Old May 12th, 2013, 12:40 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Chris,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Calohan View Post
For a non-engineer type, I found that read as exciting as taking a shower with a raincoat on...it is explicit and it does explain in great detail, both with some degree of sensibility and a lot of mathematical succor how a mask operates....but...
Thanks - I think.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old May 12th, 2013, 12:43 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Calohan View Post

Fortunately, some of the folks at NIK and other software developers probably figured this out for themselves and promptly left it on a side table, developing products which allow an artist/photographer the ability to paint in those effects wanted and ignore the rest of the selection without knowing t= C over 256 at 1.25 or the like.
Chris,

What you're missing here is that the "mask" a black area that reveals the layer(s) below is a siumple and powerful metaphor, requiring no math at all to use creatively and understand. It's very direct. So that
  • Feathering

  • "Blend If"

  • Subractions/multiplications etc

  • Gradients

  • Patterns
Can be all used together in Ps, but not in NIK to the best of my knowledge!

Asher
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Old May 12th, 2013, 03:47 PM
Chris Calohan Chris Calohan is offline
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I understand the mask, i think as well as anyone. And I use the masks frequently and for all the reasons you've given, but I also find that I can use both and get a much better product. In many cases, I can skip several masking techniques and use the NIK capability to brush in where I want an effect rather than brush out where I don't want one...same as, but yet not the same.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 03:51 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Calohan View Post
I understand the mask, i think as well as anyone. And I use the masks frequently and for all the reasons you've given, but I also find that I can use both and get a much better product. In many cases, I can skip several masking techniques and use the NIK capability to brush in where I want an effect rather than brush out where I don't want one...same as, but yet not the same.
Chris,

Some of my work involves pretty drastic changes from the mathematical blending functions in layers. That is very important to me. nik is beautiful in that little Viveza tool, but for layer interaction, one needs mathematical functions.

Asher
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  #8  
Old May 12th, 2013, 09:13 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Here is why I am so "spoiled" regarding mask work in Picture Publisher.

There is only one kind of mask. It is held in "vector" form. But it can be made or modified with both paint-like and vector-mode tools.

To make a mask from scratch, one can:

Use a rectangular or elliptical boundary. One can force it to be square (circular) or to radiate from the initial point by using helper keys. One can also set in the "tool ribbon" to force it to have a certain aspect ratio or certain dimensions. By holding the right mouse button, one can temporarily make the mouse movement move the position of the mask outline (with its current size and shape) rather than make further changes in its size. Thus, with the mouse hand only, one can create, for example, a rectangular mask outline and make it closely surround some region of interest.

One can draw the outline with the mouse, either of a series of line segments or as a nominally-continuous curve (which gets saved as a vector outline with multiple points).

One can create the mask area by "painting" with a special brush (only square and circular shapes available, but with varying sizes). We can arrange here for varying transparency, or for transparency that "tapers" at the edge.

There is also a "smart mask" function which will try an find the boundary of an image feature.

If we already have a mask (made in any of these ways), we can add regions to it, or delete regions from it, using any of these ways.

We can scale the mask, shift it, or rotate it.

We can change the outline in a vector way by moving, adding, or deleting anchor points or moving control points.

There is no need to switch the "way we look at the mask" between pixel and vector form to do any of this, or convert a pixel mask to vector form to work on it by moving points and then convert it back to a pixel mask.

So far, unless we used the mask painting tool, the mask we have constructed or massaged will have only fully-opaque or fully-transparent regions.

But we can switch to a "pixel" vision of the mask (like an alpha-channel view), in which case we can paint on it with any of our painting tools (including gradients, clonage, and so forth). In this way, we can create regions with varying transparency. We can even make temporary masks on this view of our actual mask, using all the mask tools I discussed above, to work on the actual mask in pixel form!

We can also turn on a ruby overlay that will show the masking as an overlay on the image.

And so much more.

So you can see why I am disappointed by almost all other apps' mask management capabilities.

On the other hand, Picture Publisher has no real layer capabilities at all.

Do I seem have this all correct, Chris?

Best regards,

Doug
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  #9  
Old May 13th, 2013, 12:53 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Calohan View Post
I understand the mask, i think as well as anyone. And I use the masks frequently and for all the reasons you've given, but I also find that I can use both and get a much better product. In many cases, I can skip several masking techniques and use the NIK capability to brush in where I want an effect rather than brush out where I don't want one...same as, but yet not the same.
Chris, I am with you in this. I too use, and have used masks extensively in PS specially, but I find that the selective brush tool in NIK helps me to quickly get the effect I want.

Asher, if one needs to do extensive work and wants all the bells and whistles in masks to be available, then PS would appear to be the one. However, I have found, in my experience, that there are ways that compensate, if not replace, the exact tools in PS.

Adobe suite of products do complement each other very well. E.g - In-Design and others. I have yet to find a comparable suite of products that are so elegantly and professionally integrated.

CS6 Extended has the 3 dimensional tools included. Indeed nice, if one has need for such.

But one has to agree that Adobe's tools might be the most widely used image manipulation SW in circulation. As such, extensive documentation, help and training are readily available. For many the availability of non-scientifically written training materials and references is crucial and a deal maker.

Masks, as in carnivals...I like such masks.

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