Topaz News - August 2012

Last Days to Save on Topaz ReMask!

There’s only 3 days left to take advantage of the special 30% ReMask savings. Right now you can get it for only $49. If you’ve been trying out Topaz ReMask and would like to make it a permanent part of your post processing workflow then just enter coupon code ” ProMasker “ during checkout. Offer ends Monday, August 20, 2012.

Featured Tutorial: Enhancing Backgrounds!

It’s happened to all of us. You’re in a gorgeous location, shooting an awesome scene…and the sky is boring! If you want to replace the sky in your image and don’t know how, or if you’re confused on how to work with the layers and merging multiple images then this is for you! Join Topaz expert Greg as he covers a step-by-step workflow showing you how to quickly and realistically replace that boring sky for a better one using the powerful controls in ReMask and awesome backgrounds from our friends at PhotoBacks. Watch Now

Your exclusive access to the latest news, resources,
insider tips and great deals – designed with you in mind!

ReMask for Beginners
With the right tools and a solid understanding of the masking process you can easily master masking and gain greater flexibility in your post processing. See how masking is made easy with Topaz ReMask.. Watch Now…

Benefits of Masking
When it comes to selective adjustments, removing unwanted objects, replacing backgrounds or repositioning elements, a good masking tool is essential. Explore the importance of masking for photographers and see ReMask’s ability. Watch Now…

Masking Trees
Leaves and branches often are a big challenge when it comes to masking
trees. We’ve got some tips to help! Continue Reading…

Masking Cats
What do you mask with ReMask? Topaz user Jeff uses it to mask his cats, and was looking for some tips to help speed
up the process. Continue Reading…

ReMask FAQs
Do you have questions about ReMask and the masking process? Get the answers to the most common ReMask questions. Learn More…

Compilation of Resources
We’ve put all of the top ReMask and masking resources together in one convenient place to help you easily find the tips, tricks and tutorials you need to get the job done. Learn More…

Featured User Images from the Topaz User Gallery


© Lisa Rodela


© Maxim Gamez


© Cheryl Lamond

Q: Why does my ReMask result still look like the original with the background?
A: After you save your masked image back to Photoshop it will have a transparent background. If you have a duplicate layer underneath the masked layer then you will still be able to see it. You will need to make the original layer invisible or put something in between the masked layer and the original layer so that you can see the cutout.

Q: Where is the Recovery Slider?
A: The Recovery slider is part of the Refinement toolset. These tools will become available after you have created your tri-map and clicked the Compute button. Also, for the sliders to be active you MUST be in the KEEP view – otherwise they will be grayed out.

Q: How do I bring in a new sky/background?
A: This part of your workflow is actually done outside of ReMask. So it will be based off of your own personal workflow preference. You’ll want to have an understanding of layers and your host program setup.

Option 1: The first way to merge your two images is by manually dragging the new background image into the project file that has your mask in it. To do this go to File -> Open and select the image you want and then click OK to open it in Photoshop. (You should still have your newly masked image open in Photoshop.) You will also want to make sure to unlock the layer if it is locked before you try moving it. Then, go to your Photoshop toolbox and select the image into the the project that contains your new layer Move tool and drag your new background mask. Adding the new background will create a new layer in your project.

Option 2: The second merging method that you can use is to place the new background file into your project using Photoshop’s place feature. To do this, you will need to already have your newly Re- Masked image open and then go to FIle -> Place. Select the new background image that you would like to add and then click “Place”. This will automatically add the new image into your open project file. You can then go to your Layers Palette to see that your image has been added as a new layer. You can rear- range your layers to put the newly added background layer behind your masked layer.

Q: Does ReMask have shortcut keys?
A: Yes, ReMask has shortcut keys to help streamline your workflow. Check out the list of shortcut keys here.

Q:Why am I getting this error “make sure you have enough pixels as Keep and Cut in the selected region”?
A: This means that your tri-map is not complete. When creating your tri-map be sure that you have used all three colors: Red to cut, Green to Keep and Blue to compute. Also, make sure that there are no gaps in your blue outline. Anything outlined in blue should be closed off from your red and green selection. So for example, if you are outlining a soccer ball be sure that the circle around the ball is closed off.

Q:I can’t find ReMask in Fusion/Aperture/iPhoto/Lightroom.
A: The masking process requires the use of layers and transparency, which is not supported through these host programs. In order to use ReMask you will need a program such as Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, PaintShop Pro or Serif PhotoPlus. You can also use photoFXlab as well. You also have the option of using photoFXlab through Aperture, iPhoto or Lightroom and accessing ReMask through it.

Q: My mask is too jagged/transparent? How do I refine it?
A: There are two things that can help with this.
1. Before you mask, you’ll want to make sure that your image is clean…no noise, no artifacts. Use DeNoise and DeJPEG to help with any corrective issues.

2. Use the refinement tool set to clean up your mask – work in the Mask view so that you can easily identify areas for cleanup. Also, be sure not to over-apply the Mask Strength or Hardness sliders.

Q: What is the magic brush and/or what does it do?
A: The Topaz Magic Brush tool (which becomes available after you select “Compute Mask”) allows you to make intricate detail eliminations and recoveries to selected parts of your image. It will only affect the blue area of your initial tri-map. It will not change your original red and green selections.

Q: How do I get the eye dropper tool?
A: Whenever you select the Single Color or Dual color tools the eyedropper will automatically pop up so that you can make your color selection.

Trees seem to be a very popular masking subject. All of the branches and leaves on trees typically make it a little harder to mask, so the workflow for masking (most) trees will be a little different from the standard workflow that you see us use on other images. The difference in the workflow is during the tri-map creation. While we will still use all three colors (red, green and blue) we will actually be switching up the way that we create the tri-map. This process requires a little more time and user input but it will allow you to get the best possible results.

Instead of starting with Green (to keep), which is automatically applied when you launch ReMask, we will start with Blue. So, one your image is open in ReMask click on the Blue Reset button. This will fill the image with blue, then we’ll just need to add the Green and Red selections – using the Green and Red Single Color Selection tools. Once you click on the Green Single Color Selection tool it will automatically activate the eyedropper so that you can make a color selection. You can also adjust the color range sliderto determine the range of the selected color that will be affected in the image.

The brush size can be adjusted if necessary. Selecting a larger brush size will affect more area at a time during each brush stroke. When you brush over your image, it will select add those colors to the Green (keep) portion of your tri-map. We can repeat this process as many times as necessary to make sure that there is a good selection of colors sampled. Once the Green selections are made, we can move over to the Red Single Color Selection Brush and repeat the steps for the colors (background in this case) that we want to remove. After we have the Green and Red selections made we can click Compute to process the tri-map. Once we have the processed mask you can use your regular refinement workflow to clean up any areas in your image.

Here are some additional workflow tips to help you:

1. I suggest going to your mask view to help identify areas in between branches and leaves for cleanup. If you notice light gray (or “murky”) areas in between your solid white and solid black mask then you can use the Magic Brush tool to clean this up.

2. You can still use the Single Color Brushes to select colors for clean up and then brush over those areas – keep the magic brush checkbox enabled.

3. If you find an area that is particularly hard to tackle (and you’ve already tried the Single or Dual color Selection tools) then go ahead and select the blue brush and brush over that area. Doing this will recompute the brushed area and adjust your mask according the the red and green selections you’ve made collectively…cleaning up any unwanted colors.

4. Use your Recovery slider (must be in keep view).

Looking to put your new masking skills to the test (and win some awesome prizes)? The user-created Topaz Flickr group is hosting a masking challenge. For this challenge you will use ReMask and your newly acquired Masking Month tips-n-tricks to create a cutout…then add just a touch of creativity and your own personal flare.

To join in on the new masking challenge visit: http://bit.ly/R31aXH

Check out last year’s winning image from user: Puffin and the other entries at: http://bit.ly/NGbhxb

Prizes will be awarded to our top winners: Topaz software + goodies from our friends at PhotoBacks and LayerCake Elements.

I received a message from a user named Jeff who attended our Benefits of Masking webinar yesterday. He mentioned that he uses ReMask to mask images of his cat, but that his biggest problem is that it takes him so long to mask.

I don’t think I’ve ever masked a cat before, so I decided to give it a try. It was a fun little challenge for me. I thought’d I’d share my image and also some tips that might help you and Jeff.

Now, I was able to do this in less than 5 minutes. After I created my tri-map, I bumped my Recovery slider up to the max and then used the Magic Brush (just a few clicks and strokes) to clean up around my subject. For most images your will spend the majority of your time either creating the tri-map or refining your computed mask. Your masks don’t have to be perfect, but include as many selections as you can. Personally, I spend more time upfront creating my tri-map. This gives me more accurate results off hand…which means less time spent refining.

Here are three key tips to help you get better results faster:

1. During tri-map creation, limit the amount of blue (compute) selections. You don’t have to be precise, however an abundance of blue may result in longer processing times, a less refined initial mask and more refining at the end. So this means, use a smaller blue brush to outline your subject – you may need to zoom into your image more for this. You should also try to sample as many colors as red or green as possible. The more information you give ReMask to compute the better it will do.

2. If you are working on a complex area like hair and you have made several touch-ups with the red and green magic brush, you can then go back and paint over an area with your blue brush (you’ll probably want to increase your brush size a little). This will refine the area more (by recomputing) based off of the additional red and green Magic Brush selections you made…it’s a faster way to clean up difficult areas. It also helps with cleaning up those light gray areas you see when in mask view…that could transfer back to Photoshop as a light film-like contamination from the cutout background.

3. Make use of the various views and background color change option (located in the Menu -> Preferences). This will help you identify areas of clean up much faster.

Have a masking question? Let me know!