Quick Mask Mode Lesson

Goals: Use the Quick Mask mode in Adobe Photoshop to make complex selections. Put special effects on selected areas of a photograph.

Step 1. Duplicate the Layer.

  1. Open horses.jpg.
  2. Duplicate the layer with Layer--Duplicate Layer. 
  3. When working with photographs, you should make it a practice never to modify the original image. You may as some time want to get back to it. Always work with a copy of the original. 
horses.jpg (51381 bytes)
Open the file horses.jpg.

Duplicate your background layer. Never modify your original image.

Step 2. Select the Baby Horse.

  1. Attempt to select just the baby horse using whatever tool you want. Do not select any part of the grass or the mother. 
  2. So far in class we have been selecting objects which are fairly easy to select. In real photographs, often the objects are not easy to select using just one tool.

Step 3. Quick Mask Mode.

  1. Deselect with Select-Deselect.
  2. Switch to Quick Mask mode by clicking on the Quick Mask mode below the foreground/background colors.
  3. You should also notice the name of the file changes to reflect that you are in quick mask mode.
  4. Everything should be red in quick mask mode. If not, grab you paint bucket and fill in everything with black.
  5. Quick mask mode allows you to select by painting instead of using the selection tools.
  6. Make sure the foreground and background colors are set to Black and White.
  7. Choose a hard edge brush, not a soft edge brush.
  8. Paint with white to select an area. This should erase the red area in quick mask mode.
  9. Paint with black to deselect an area. You will actually paint the area red in quick mask mode. 
  10. Paint a little bit with white. Switch back to normal mode to see your selection. Switch back to quick mask mode.
  11. Paint (select) just the baby horse. 
  12. Switch back to Normal mode to see your selection.

In Quick Mask Mode.

Painting with white should erase the red.

Switch back to Normal mode to see your selection.

Step 4. Combine Selection Tools and Quick Masks.

  1. Make sure you are in Normal mode.
  2. Deselect the baby with Select--Deselect. Sorry, but we need the practice.
  3. Quickly and roughly select the baby horse again with a regular selection tool.
  4. Switch over to Quick Mask mode and clean up the selection.
  5. Using a combination of regular selection tools and Quick Mask mode is often the quickest way to select an area.

The baby selected.

Step 5. Save the Selection.

  1. After making a complex selection, you often want to save the selection so that you don't have to select it again.
  2. Save the selection with Select--Save Selection. Call the name of the selection baby. Leave the other settings alone. Click OK.
  3. Deselect the baby once again with Select-Deselect.
  4. You can now get the selection back with Select-Load Selection. Change the channel to baby and click OK.

Save your selection as baby.

Whenever you need the selection back, you can load it.

Step 6. Artistic Filter the Background.

  1. Often in Photoshop you find yourself saying, "I want to select everything but this area." A good way to select this type of area is to first select the area you  do not want and then select the inverse of that area.
  2. Make sure you are working in the Background Copy layer, not the Background layer. We don't want to change the original.
  3. Select the baby horse if not already selected. Load the baby selection.
  4. Select everything but the baby horse with Select-Inverse. You should now have everything but the baby horse selected.
  5. Apply an Artistic filter, such as the Fresco, to the background area. Filter--Artistic--Fresco.

Applying an Artistic Fresco filter to the background.

Step 7. Hide the Edges of the Selection.

  1. Often when working with selections, the dancing ants (the edges of the selection) get in your way. I want to make various changes, but I don't want to deselect every time I want to see what the changes will actually look like.
  2. Hide the edges of the selection with View--Hide Edges (Control-H).
  3. This keeps the area selected without seeing the dancing ants.
  4. Try applying different Artistic filters or perhaps a texture filter to just the background with the selection edges hidden.

Step 8. Blurring the Background.

  1. A very common photographic need is to make part of a photograph stand out from the rest of the photograph. A common way to do this is to blur everything but the area you want.
  2. Go back to your Background Layer. Duplicate the layer again to get another copy (Layer--Duplicate Layer). Move this layer on top so that you can see it.
  3. Reselect everything but the baby. Select--Load Selection--baby. Select--Inverse.
  4. Blur the background with Filter--Blur--Gaussian Blur. Adjust the Radius so that the background is out of focus but not blurred beyond recognition. 

Duplicate the Background Layer and Move the new copy to the top.

Blur the background, but leave the baby in focus.

Step 9. Make the Baby Stand Out More.

  1. One way to make a part of your image stand out is also to drop a shadow behind it or put an outer glow on it..
  2. If I try to just drop a shadow on one of my Background copy layers, I will see nothing. You are dropping a shadow behind the entire picture, not just a part of it.
  3. In order to put a layer effect on just the baby, I need to get just the baby into a new layer first.
  4. Select just the baby. Copy and Paste the baby to create a new layer with just the baby in it. Make sure this new layer is your top layer.
  5. Put a layer effect on this new layer. I chose Layer--Effects--Outer Glow. I changed the color of the glow from yellow to white.

Copy and paste just the baby to create a new layer with just the baby in it.

I put a white Outer Glow on the baby.

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