to have left out from our plugin descriptions the ones that aid masking.
There’s an abundance of them though. This week’s choice is Digital
Film Tool EZ Mask, more closely, its 1.5 version.
can creating a mask do for you? For example, you want to cut out a
living being or an object from a picture and place it in front of
another background. To show off in front of your friends, for instance.
Think of it: you cut out your portrait from a photo where you are
lazing in the sun in the garden of your weekend cottage, and then
put it on the hot sands of Copacabana. Your neighbors will be green
with envy at the sight of the photos taken during your “holiday in
this is just a small slice of masking. The image can be cut out with
another tool as well, but masking can be modified afterwards, to your
liking. Photoshop, for example, offers a great deal
of tools to create a mask, such as the simple quick mask mode, in
which you can paint with the different painting tools. With more complex
shapes, however, (foliage, human hair, animal hair, etc.), it is quite
difficult to paint around the shape you would like to cut out.
basic idea is to paint around the shape quickly, and what is more
important, precisely, and then cut it out along the marking. EZ
Mask plugin is the tool for this, which is to be found under
Filter/Digital Film Tools after installation. But
let’s not run forward so much. You will need some preliminary steps
before you start to use it.
you load a photo, Photoshop will treat it as a blocked
background. If you look at Layers palette, you will
see the name ‘Background’ and the lock icon next
needs an open, individual layer first of all, and besides, a layer
mask is also necessary for the more free editing work. To create a
separate layer from the background, simply just double click on it.
The software will offer a layer name (such as Layer 0),
and if you click OK, the background will become an editable layer
under the given name. Next, add an empty layer mask to your layer
using the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the
Layers palette. Nothing changes in the photo, only
we will have an empty mask layer now. Using a normal size brush, you
can cut out (mask) any area from the picture. The point in EZ
Mask plugin is that we don’t have to paint by hand, since
the software will automatically do it for us.
one more little preparatory action to do. Now step over to Channels
palette, and click RGB Color channel. Following
this, you can go back to Layers palette.
EZ Mask plugin now from the Filter/Digital
Film Tools menu. The window coming up looks like this:
of the window shows the major command icons. These are in order: load
in mask, save mask, show foreground, show background, show mask, composite
view, zoom in, zoom out, adjust to window, pan mode, zoom amount,
undo, redo, settings, preview quality, create preview, finish mask
have a look at the editing icons seen on right side toolbar with the
help of the following example.
like to cut out the lemon shown in the picture. It’s not a complicated
thing to do, so even we, new to EZ Mask will succeed.
First use Paint
Foreground icon, the first one in row (F key). This will
help us cut out the desired shape, this time the lemon. In fact, we
will receive a brush, with which we have to run around the object
from the inside. It’s not necessary to precisely mark the edges, just
touch the most important hues and colors. The width of the brush can
be regulated by the sixth icon (Brush size). Then
click on the second icon and similarly, select the background. Now
draw the line outside the lemon. After finishing the two actions,
you’ll see something like this.
outline marks the inner edges of the lemon, and the red one marks
the outer edges. The actual edge of the object to be cut out falls
between these two lines, and it will be the software that defines
it. You can also paint over this area with the use of the third icon
(Paint unknown). It is yet an “unknown” territory
for the software. In case of such a simple selection, this is unnecessary.
If you ruin the outlines, you can delete them with the fourth, eraser
next step is quick selection of image area. The fifth icon is the
tool for this (paint bucket). Click on it, then on
the first icon (Paint foreground), and one more click
is needed in the green selection. With this you will fill in the area
within the green outline. The software now know that it is a protected
area waiting for selection. The outline of the cut (mask) cannot be
within this line. Now click on the second tool and outside the red
line. We have selected the background, which will also be left untouched
by the plugin. It is surely outside the cut contour, the masked area.
Lastly, click on the third icon and somewhere between the green-red
outlines. It’s an interesting area for the software. It will have
to find the outline of the object within.
last but one icon (Overlay Opacity) can
increase or decrease opacity of the colored areas. Clear Paint
at the bottom of the toolbar will delete all of our selection in case
we wish to start over.
Now we can rely on the program, and Done button in
the upper icon bar (last but one button) will execute
the create mask command. However, make sure to check the mask beforehand,
with the two icons in front of it in the row. You can adjust Preview
Quality, and you can commence calculating the mask with Process
– so far in the EZ Mask window, so you can further
edit it in case of an imprecise selection.
And here’s the mask we have created.
The white area is the selection detected by the software, while the
black area is what falls outside. In our case it is unnecessary, we
want to get rid of it.
are satisfied with the result — there will always be small imperfections—,
Done icon will calculate the result. Returning to
our main Photoshop window, you'll see the finished
cut. The background is masked, there’s the selected area left, the
lemon. On Layers palette, on the right side of our
layer you can see the mask, which can be further edited. Just click
on this layer mask marker and it becomes editable. After that, Brush
tool (B key) will help us delete from the object while Erase
(E key) will paint back what has been deleted.
use a very fine brush or eraser, the smallest imperfections of the
selection can also be removed.
wish to place the object you have cut out in another picture, all
you have to do is click on the mask while pressing the Ctrl
key and then hit Ctrl+C to copy it and Ctrl+V
to insert it.
version of EZ Mask v1.5 (new version: v2.0.) for Windows and Mac can
be freely downloaded from the developer's