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.
Jeff Gamet is a contributing editor for Design Tools Monthly, the executive summary of graphic design news. He is also the morning editor and reviews editor for The Mac Observer and iPodObserver.com, and contributing writer for Layers Magazine and Photoshop User. He writes the InBrief column for InDesign Magazine, and is the author of “The Designer’s Guide to Mac OS X,” from Peachpit Press
When Jeff isn’t writing about the graphic design world, he’s talking about it on the Design Tools Weekly podcast with co-host Jay Nelson. He also talks about Apple and the Mac world every week on The Mac Observer’s Apple Weekly Report.
Jeff studies, tests and reviews new software and technologies for the Macintosh community as well as the design and print industries. He is a former Pre-press specialist, and has nearly 25 years experience with computer technology. Jeff trains, lectures and consults on techniques for more efficiently using Mac OS X in creative environments throughout the country.
In the rare moments when he can get away from his MacBook Pro, Jeff spends his time climbing and biking in the Colorado mountains.