We’ve had lots of feedback, questions, and comments on Topaz ReMask, and we thank you for taking the time to write to us and submit examples. I thought I would post a few frequently asked questions (and their answers!) here on the blog.

One thing that I want to note: Topaz ReMask works in a very different way than other masking plug-ins, and plug-ins in general. For one, it doesn’t have a user interface, so it’s almost impossible to “feel” your way through the plug-in. I strongly urge you to at least get a basic idea of how the plug-in works by scanning the User’s Manual or take a look at one of the short 3-4 minute video tutorials. They actually help quite a bit when starting out.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are some of the more common questions we’ve gotten:

How do I refine my mask if it’s not perfect?

If you’ve gotten a mask from ReMask and there’s areas of the mask that you’d like to improve, it’s easy to tell ReMask to re-process a part of the image with additional information. When processing, Topaz ReMask’s thought process goes something like this:

1. I see white in the tri-map over certain image features. I now know that image features similar to these (in color, proximity, etc) are to be kept in the final mask.
2. I see black in the tri-map over certain image features. I now know that image features similar to these are to be removed in the final mask.
3. I see gray in the tri-map over certain image features. I must use the information from #1 and #2 to determine the correct mask for #3.

Keeping this in mind, it makes sense that sometimes ReMask may not have all the information it needs to correctly deduce the gray areas with 100% accuracy. This is where mask refining comes in. All this consists of is using the resulting mask that Topaz ReMask gave you first, as a tri-map for another pass of Topaz ReMask. The key is to give it a little bit more information this time.

As a very simple example, let’s say you’re masking an apple and, for whatever reason, the stem wasn’t included in the mask even though you want it to be. You would first select the layer mask and paint white on some of the stem. You don’t have to paint ALL of the stem, but you have to make sure you don’t get any white on the background… or else ReMask will get really confused.

Then, you paint black on parts of the background around the stem. Finally, paint gray on the areas that you want ReMask to process (this time with added information). For the rest of the apple you don’t have to do anything because ReMask already gave you a black and white mask, so you can just leave it like it is.

(Sometimes it’s more appropriate to paint a thick gray over the entire stem and then paint black or white. It’s up to the situation. The only important thing is to give ReMask more information via black and white areas so it can correctly deduce the gray areas.)

After that, you can either apply Topaz ReMask again to the whole image, or just a selection of the stem. This will refine the mask at the gray areas using the new information. You can repeat this process if necessary.

How do I fix a procEngine -1000 or -878 error?

This is a memory issue. Go to your Photoshop Preferences and take a look at the RAM section.

First, drop it to about 40%. Restart Photoshop and try ReMask again.
If that doesn’t work, try increasing it to 85%. Restart Photoshop and try ReMask again.

If these don’t work, we’re coming out with a memory management upgrade soon, which will almost certainly help with the problem. Also, try minimizing the gray areas in the tri-map; ReMask’s memory usage is directly proportional to the amount of gray area.

Why do I get a message that says “No Layer Mask Channel Found” or “‘Make’ command not available”?

For the first message, Topaz ReMask must be run on a layer with a layer mask containing black, white, and gray. If there’s no layer mask, it will not run.

The second message only occurs when you use actions. If you do use actions, use nothing else – don’t create a layer mask, etc. The action will do everything for you. The “Make” error happens when the action tries to create a layer mask when there is already a layer mask on the layer.

Let me know if there’s any other questions that you want answered in the comments.

This post was originally posted on September 28, 2009
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