Just as important as having a good masking tool is the importance of knowing how to best use its included tools and features to produce the best possible results on your images. So today I want to explore some best practices that will help you enhance your ReMask workflow and of course produce better results with your images.

Now, when we first released ReMask, Eric wrote his three best practices…which definitely still apply. So we’ll start by taking a look at them and then I will add on a bunch of my own – some that you may know and some that you may not. I will also add some feedback/explanations (in my favorite color!) on Eric’s tips so that you have a better understanding of how they impact your workflow.

Eric’s Key Three

1. Try to accurately sample as many colors as possible in the image with your tri-map.

ReMask works by analyzing the colors in your image and in the selections that you make with the Red and Green brushes. The more colors that you same with these two brushes, the more information ReMask will have when it analyzes your compute (blue brush) selections…producing a better mask for you.

2. Always sample at least a little bit within enclosed areas.

(Notice the Red (cut) selections made to the background color seen inside of the curls

Interior areas like the background in between curly hair or the middle circle of a donut are considered enclosed areas. Sampling these areas is important. While you don’t have to select every enclosed area or completely paint it in, it is still a good idea to mark with a dot or small brush stroke.

3. Refine your mask in order to make it perfect. Keeping these three simple things in mind, Topaz ReMask can do a fast and excellent job on extracting a wide variety of images.

Initial masks never come out perfect. You will always want to do a little refining to clean up your mask. Making use of the refinement toolset will help you do this.

So now that you have Eric’s Key Three (which are also the basics) let’s take a look at my workflow tips for best practices with ReMask.

Before You Mask…
If your image suffers from noise or jpeg artifacts it is very easy for ReMask to pick this up, and you may often see artifacts or blockiness around the edges of your mask. I suggest running your image through a program like DeJPEG first, to remove any artifacts and before using ReMask. This will give you the best possible results.

During Tri-Map creation
When you are creating your tri-map and using the blue brush:

1. 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.

2. Be sure to adjust the brush size periodically. (use the bracket shortcut keys…so much faster!) This will allow you to zone in on key areas and also help lessen the amount of blue area selected.

3. It’s OK to use a larger brush size on areas like wispy/stray hairs, fur or trees, remember Eric’s second practice: always sample at least a little bit within enclosed areas.

4. Use a smaller brush on well-defined and harder edges.

During Refining
1. Use split views to compare. The Mask and Keep view are the two I use most often.

2. Don’t ignore the mask view. When looking at the mask view, areas that are solid white are kept areas. Areas in gray are semi-trasparent. You want to be sure that your keep subject is filled in with white to the edges otherwise your processed image may end up with some undesireable transparent areas. Also don’t be afraid to use the mask hardness and mask strength sliders.

3. Use a small brush size (1-5) when making refinements with the Magic Brush tool. Keep in mind that the Magic Brush only fixes areas that were originally marked in blue. It will NOT affect your original red or green tri-map selections.

4. When working on hair bump your recovery slider up…I keep mine at the max most times. Plus as you are refining with the Magic Brush it will automatically bring the hair back to life for you!

5. If you are working on a complex area (say 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 based off of the additional red and green Magic Brush selections you made…it’s a faster way to clean up difficult areas.

6. Don’t forget to adjust the color range slider when using the brush tool. It’s easy to forget that this feature is there so be sure to use it. Quick Reminder: The Color Range slider allows you to determine the spectrum of shades affected within the image based on the main color selection.

7. Change the background color to help identify areas in need of refinement. (This option is in your ReMask Menu).

8. To help recover edges from color contamination, increase the Decontamination slider under the Foreground Color option (you have to be in the Keep view).

Transparency Areas
1. Use your the Dual-Color selection brush tool when masking areas with transparency – such as wedding veils. Fill the area with blue. Then set your foreground color to match what should be kept (white for the veil) and set your background color to the color behind the veil that is to be removed. After that, set your brush size and then brush over the blue area. The yellow dots that appear represent transparency.

And that’s it! Hope this information helps you with your masking. If you have any tips that you’d like to share or any questions then feel free to leave me a reply below.

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