Image Masking

Image Masking

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Image masking is a procedure in a graphics software, just like Photoshop which is used to hide some sections of images and to reveal some too. It is basically a non-destructive procedure of image editing. Most of the time it allows you to adjust and improve the mask later if needed. It is an efficient and better way of creative image manipulation. When it comes to removing parts of an image, unlike pixel deleting or painting over the area, image making is your best bet cause it allows you control of that particular area which you can always access and adjust whenever you want to. Once you apply a mask to a selected area you get to choose where you want to hide and the area you want to reveal.


There are basically three types of masking in Photoshop

1. Layer Masking

The layer mask is the type of masking that has to deal with Photoshop. We can conceal or reveal portions of the images or we can manipulate different portions of an image with the use of masking. If we switch the opacity of a layer from the panels opacity slider, then the opacity of the entire image will be changed. Transparecy masking- With the layer mask applied, we can change the clarity of the layer. We can make any section totally invisible or a little bit visible. If we apply black painting on a mask that section will be absolutely transparent. Meaning that it will be visible from below. The image will be a little bit visible If we apply grayscale, depending on the percentage of gray we select for the brush. If we go for a soft brush, it means the edge transformation will be smoother.

2. Clipping Mask

Clipping masks depend on one layer to determine the transparency or visibility of another layer. For clipping masks, we apply a layer at the base of the layer we want to make transparent. From the base, we control the visibility of the layer on top. For starters, it may look a bit contradictory if they try to compare the layer mask and the clipping masks. It may look like the clipping mask is working in an inverse manner compared to the layer mask.

Complex Clipping Path masks- Hair Erase

In the instance of layer masking, we apply black color on the masks in order to make the pixels of the layer opaque, contrary to the clipping mask. The top layer will either be opaque or visible that is if the bottom layer has some pixels in that section. If the bottom layer is out of pixels, the pixel on the upper layer will be invisible or transparent.

3. Alpha Channel Masking

Every image has various attributes for cutting out operations like the removal of backgrounds. So various techniques are needed to be used, various images need different approaches. Alpha channel masking is quite a complex manner of masking. The types of masking listed above are quite simple. But masking furry and hairy areas are very difficult and time-consuming because of the problems associated with brush strokes. If the backgrounds and object have enough amount of contrast, alpha channel masking method will be a lot easier to apply. To work with this technique of masking, we make use of channel palate to see which of the channels offers more contrast. If it is a blue channel, we make an identical copy of that channel and apply level on it to boost the contrast sufficiently. If needed, we can as well paint over the inner section of the new blue channel with a black color to make it entirely black. Then we make back turn to black and then vice versa. And then we copy the channel and paste it on the layer tab in order to get a new layer. You can as well use the dodge and burn tools to make the edges more contrasting. Before the application of decontaminating, it is wise and safe to make a copy of the layer. Because the process is destructive. This is just a brief analysis of alpha channel masking to give you an idea. Now let’s see why masking is needed.

Why Do We Need Masking?

It Is a Non-Destructive method

Masking is simply a non-destructive procedure. We can effect changes later or manipulate our masks to whatever we desire. But if we remove the undesired areas it is a lot more difficult to bring back those areas later on during image editing. Just as if we cut through an object or any section from the image making a path on them, we will also lack the ability to include more adjacent areas without stress. But If we want to hide some cut-out, it may be possible with the aid of masking technique.

Just to Hide and Show

As mentioned earlier, the simplest form of using masking is to hide and display sections of pictures. We can bring transition into reality if we apply a soft brush for masking. Sometimes it is within our disposal to control the transparent areas of a picture, just like a very shiny sky. We can also make a bright area dimmer by the use of a gray color. As a matter of fact, there are other ways to get things done, but this is the easiest and handy technique to go for.

To Modify an Area of a Picture

It is very common that you need to modify an area of the image. For example, you want to change the color of the top garment of a model. You can make a mask by making that portion visible. Then you can apply any kind of modifications you want; like color adjustment/correction, brightness/contrast adjustment, exposure correction, etc.

Removing or Restoring Backgrounds of Translucent Objects

Masking technique can be used to remove the background of translucent objects. This aids the removal of glassy objects. It can be applied if we need to change the background of a new of mesh type or a muslin cloth which has some transparency as well.

One Advantage of Clipping Mask

One benefit of clipping mask over layer mask is that a different area can be made visible simply through moving of the clipped images. We can manipulate what will be seen through the mask if we apply clipping mask. Other than that, a normal layer mask is enough for almost all the masking jobs.

Making Collage Images

We can create interesting collage photos with the masking technique. The chances of creating collage images are endless. We can make exciting effects by using different photos and placing masking on them. The transition can be smoother if we apply soft brushes and gradients of Gray. Our Photoshop technique and approach has almost endless possibilities to achieve your imaginations. Sometimes you can achieve the same result using different procedures/techniques of photoshop. It is up to you to select the type of method you are more conversant and fluent with or a method that requires less time and provides the desired output. Image masking without doubts is a useful and creative tool.

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