Excellent Masking Tools

Besides Photoshop’s built-in masking tools, there are several powerful third-party plug-ins that can be more accurate and save time. They all use a similar approach: you draw a line within the area you want to keep, then switch tools and draw a line outside the area you want to keep. The program then focuses on the area between the lines to identify edges. Three of the best are:

Vertus’ Fluid Mask 3 ($149)
Claims to speed the masking process 300–600% over other products when used on difficult images. Vertus says this is because it mimics the way the eye and brain recognize complex shapes and colors in images. Their website has tutorials and free live demos every day.

onOne’s Mask Pro 4 ($160)
Also includes training videos, and has unique features such as: support for pressure sensitivity in Wacom Pen Tablets; view several windows while creating the mask, including the new background; and a unique Magic Pen tool that snaps to the “edge” of distinct objects.

Digital Film Tools’ EZ Mask 1.5 ($150) 
Developed by motion picture experts for efficiency and accuracy. Quite remarkable.