Topaz Remask Revealed

Peggy Farren 2013-08-17

by Greg Agee

Plugins exist to enhance your experience, make your life easier and offer you options that your normal editing software like Photoshop and Elements don’t do easily.

One of my major go to plugins is Topaz Remask. Why? Because the majority of almost all work in Photoshop and Elements involves making selections and Topaz Remask is the single best tool I found for making complicated, detailed and professional selections.

In the example below, I chose a image that would normally be considered impossible to make a selection from. It’s riddled with intricate lace and soft, billowy feathers that are full of holes and transparent areas. A potential disaster for sure, but not with Topaz Remask!

Using this plugin, within 10-15 minutes, I had completed a complicated selection that was ready for a new background!


Selecting feathers is not as tedious using Topaz Remask.

Topaz Remask works by using 3 separate colors to determine what parts of the images you want to Keep (Green), Remask-Tools_1 Cut (Red) and Compute (Purple).

The Selection Process

  1. Select your image and then open Topaz Remask through Photoshop and Elements by going to Filter>Topaz Lab>Topaz Remask. In Lightroom go to Photo>Edit In>Topaz Remask
  2. Begin the selection process by outlining the parts of the object you want to keep with the Compute (Purple) Basic brush. The plugin works by looking for distinct edges under everything you painted with the Compute Brush. So, all edges, including hard to select transparent areas you want to keep are to be included in your purple selection.
  3. All areas within the purple outline (the parts you want to keep) are to be filled with the Green Fills bucket.
  4. All areas outside the purple outline (the parts you want to cut or delete) are to be filled with the Red Fills bucket.

TRimap-Image

5. Now hit the “Compute Mask” button and the results will show as a black and white mask. If done correctly, the mask should look pretty good at this point, but not perfect. There’s still a little work to do to refine the selection mask. Note: Any shades of gray you see in the mask represents levels of transparency, which is what you will want in certain areas.

6. Now that you have a B&W mask, you’re going to want to divide the screen into 2 sections so you can see what you’re doing when refining the Mask. At the top right corner of the Topaz Remask screen, you’ll see three boxes, choose the one that shows two vertical boxes side-by-side. This will break your screen up into two sections as seen in the image to the right. For the screen on the right, choose the “Image” or “Keep” view from the top left corner of the window pane. Mask-Keep

7. At this point, you need to evaluate what’s working with your mask by determining what needs to stay and what needs to go. Comparing the “Mask”(on the left) to the “Image” or “Keep” screen (on the right), will help you figure this out. Continue to use the Basicbrushes to refine the Mask. (You can use these tools on either of the two screens.) When using the Basic brushes at this point, they work best when their diameter is smaller. Use the “Keep” brush on the parts of the image that need to be more defined and the “Cut” brush on the parts that need to be removed. This back and forth process is what will refine your mask and get you to the finished selection.

8. When your mask is acceptable, click OK. Your selected image will open up in Photoshop and Elements as a layer above the original layer, minus the background. Turn off the original background layer to see your final selection.

Topaz Remask is a phenomenal plugin that makes professional selections available to everyone. Like all things in life, it takes a little practice to get it right, but once you do...you’ll never fear selections again!

Guest Blogger Greg Agee has spent the past 12 years honing his retouching and compositing skills while serving as creative director and package designer for companies such as Dillard’s and QualChoice.

His work has recently been recognized and awarded as winner of the 2013 Photoshop World "Guru Award" for photo montage which is given by NAPP- National Association of Photoshop Professionals. He received four "Seal Of Approvals" from the FPP-Florida Professional Photographers, allowing him to enter into the International Photographic Competition, in which he also received 4 merits. One of those images got into the General Showcase Book. He has also won numerous other awards from the PPSWF-Professional Photographers of Southwest Florida.

We are unbelievably lucky to have Greg here in SW Florida! He teaches several workshops a year at Understand Photography. Check our calendar to catch his next class: http://www.meetup.com/UnderstandPhotography/events/calendar/

Greg's website: http://www.pixelogyarts.com/

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