Steve Calcutt / Masks in Photoshop

October 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

In this workshop, we focused on the use of masks and cutting objects out with the pen tool in Photoshop.

We were first informed about the use of JPEG images, and the reasons as top why they aren’t used (by designers): Photoshop flattens the image, so it makes it a lot harder to edit, and (the main reason) because of compression, where by the image loses much of there quality. You would use JPEGs however if you were to send the file over email (for validation by a printer or something), as it has a drastically smaller file size. You  must always save a file as a Photoshop file, such as a Photoshop ‘PSD’, ‘PDF’, or if you were to send a file to a printer, use a ‘TIFF’ file, as this has a high quality output; these retain all layers on the Photoshop file, allowing for you to edit them completely. When using scanners, change the output file to ‘TIFF’ instead of ‘JPEG’, once again for the higher quality, but also because JPEG files compress the file where it creates ‘artifacts’ (random pixels (which were never in the original image) throughout the image).

When using my SLR camera, I should switch the file save to ‘RAW’ or ‘TIFF’ instead of JPEG, for the reasons stated above, throwing away information and therefore quality.

p1

From this zoomed in [JPEG] image, displaying white text, you can see darker tones within the letters, which actually look slightly green, these are the pixels that Photoshop has guessed (or inserted as ‘artifacts’).

We created a path using the pen tool, by drawing all the way round the object, a tip when using the pen tool to create an outline of something, is to add slight bends to the lines, even on straight edges, this achieves a nicer rounded look, giving a more natural weight the outlined subject. You’d use the pen tool over the polygon tool to outline as it achieves a much smoother outcome.

Once the path was created, I was able to create a mask, blocking out the rest of the background; masking is a non destructive way of removing parts of an image, meaning you can go back to it if needs be, doing this should become a habit so I don’t ever lose work and can easily backtrack.

To smooth masked images, you use the paintbrush tool, painting white onto the mask reveals, and painting black onto the mask will hide, the  second image down demonstrates this. Working with shades of grey allows for different opacity, alternatively, you can simply alter the opacity of the brush.

p2

p3

Shortcut tips:

– By holding the ‘space’ bar, it allows you to pan around an image, pressing ‘CTRL’ and ‘Space’ zooms the image, and ‘ALT’ and ‘space’ zooms out.

– ‘[‘ and ‘]’ increase and reduce brush size

– Pressing ‘x’ will switch between ‘foreground’ and ‘background’ colour

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