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  • Quickest way to mask

    I've been using the magic wand to select for applying a drop shadow. It works fine except when the selection has colors similar to the background. Checking 'contiguous' doesn't help.

    Everything else seems sooo time consuming. Is there anything else that is fast?

    Lynda
    Irritating and annoying newbee!

  • #2
    Re: Quickest way to mask

    Good masking isn't fast masking. That said, some ways are easier than others. Check out the channels (all ten of them) if your image processing software allows that, and look for one with good demarcation between what you want to select and the background. Realize that you may well have to tinker with that channel to get a proper mask, and that you might have to piece a mask together if your image is darker than the background in some places and lighter in others. I highly recommend Katrin Eisman's book Photoshop Masking and Compositing.

    <C>

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    • #3
      Re: Quickest way to mask

      A drop shadow is going to require a mask of the original subject so that you can layer the shadow under the subject so you may need to spend some time doing a good job of masking anyway.

      If you have already done a good mask on the subject, load the mask, open a new layer and fill the selection with black. Place it in the layer stack below the previously masked subject layer. Use Free Transform to distort the shape of the shadow, do a fairly strong gaussian blur then lower the opacity to about 40&#37;.

      Masking is tedious, but there are very few short cuts in doing it and doing it well. And, get away from that magic wand tool as soon as you can. Get to know QuickMask mode (that lets you use a brush and paint a mask) or the pen tool.

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      • #4
        Re: Quickest way to mask

        Masking can be tedious, but doesn't always have to be. The magic wand tool is great when you have a very sharp demarcation of colors with a good strong contrast. I am still exploring the new quickselect tool in CS3, so I don't really have an opinion about it yet. Other than that, probably the quickest way to make a good selection around a complicated object is with the pen tool, although at times with irregular services, quickmask can produce better results. Another good hint, is you can make a quick selection with the magic wand, or one of the other selection tools such as a square or round marquee, or even the lariat tool, and then enter the quick mask mode and fine tune it by painting with the brush. Another powerful but little known method is, when you enter quickmask to refine your selection, you can press Ctrl T, to enter the transform mode, and transform your selection just like it was another layer.

        The important thing to take away here is, one of the most important things that you can learn to do in Photoshop, is how to make a good selection, and how to turn that into a mask, move it to another layer, make adjustments to it, etc. It is also important to learn the many various ways that you can make a selection, so you can pick the best one for a given situation.

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        • #5
          Re: Quickest way to mask

          I ended up using a hodgepodge of the above techniques.

          There are some small wires, and I just don't have the skill to quick mask them, so I did end up having to spit some of the images into different techniques.

          Picking a channel combined with temporarily darkening the image worked on some parts.

          I've gotten pretty fast with the lassos and the pen, but I realized when I got an image outlined that I didn't know how to turn it into the right kind of selection to make the layer styles menu come up.

          So much to earn.

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          • #6
            Re: Quickest way to mask

            Originally posted by Lynda99 View Post
            I've been using the magic wand to select for applying a drop shadow. It works fine except when the selection has colors similar to the background. Checking 'contiguous' doesn't help.

            Everything else seems sooo time consuming. Is there anything else that is fast?

            Lynda
            Irritating and annoying newbee!
            Hi Lynda,

            Why not just use 'Drop Shadow' in the Layer Styles Menu ?

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            • #7
              Re: Quickest way to mask

              Linda, once you get your selection made and the "marching ants" showing, just hit Command (or Control on a PC) + J. This will jump a copy of your selection to a new layer. Reload the selection on your new layer hold down OPTION or CONTROL and click on the layer's image to make a second copy. Now you can go back to the lower copy to make the shadow...reload the selection, fill with black, transform to reshape the shadow, gaussian blur, lower transparency.

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              • #8
                Re: Quickest way to mask

                A combination approach to selection is to use the pen tool (or other selection tool) first then click on the Quick Mask icon. The current selection will be in red in Quick Mask and you can fine-tune the selection using black paintbrush to add to the selection and white paintbrush to remove an area from the selection. I use this quite often.

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                • #9
                  Re: Quickest way to mask

                  Originally posted by Alison View Post
                  Hi Lynda,

                  Why not just use 'Drop Shadow' in the Layer Styles Menu ?

                  I do, but you have to make the selection before you can use it. This is a problem if the object has some of the same colors as the background.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Quickest way to mask

                    Swampy, that worked well.

                    Duwayne, my problem with "painting' on these images is that there are wires, and I don't have an artpad, or the skill to paint them with my mouse. I kept ending up with squiggles.

                    I had about 100 images to do. Everything is done but the pesky ones.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Quickest way to mask

                      Thanks to these posts, the lightbulb finally went on in my head about layers.


                      FInally.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Quickest way to mask

                        LOL, Lynda... I think you now understand that you can't just make a selection on a layer then add a drop shadow to the selection. The selection must first be extracted from the original layer (either to it's own layer or by using a mask).

                        The next problem arises when you want to create your own drop shadow that can be shaped as in a cast shadow. In that case you need 2 copies of the extraction so that you can sandwich the shadow between the top extraction and the bottom original or background.

                        See sample layer stack below. I just loaded the selection the shadow layer, filled with black, Free Transformed to shape it, gaussian blurred and lowered opacity to taste.
                        Attached Files

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                        • #13
                          Re: Quickest way to mask

                          Lynda - It's easy to avoid the "squiggles"! When you are in Quick Mask, you’ll be using the paintbrush with black paint. Select a brush size equal to the width of the wire. Place the brush at one end on the wire and click once and release. Then move the brush to a point down the wire so you can paint a straight-line segment. Hold the shift key and click on a second point. Move the brush further down the wire and holding the shift again click for the second segment. Work your way down the wire to the other end.

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