• Jun

    More PHOTO-PAINT Masking Tips


    In this article we look at more ways of masking objects with Corel PHOTO-PAINT. Today, we begin with the Cutout Lab.

    The Cutout Lab is a valuable tool and is excellent for masking images that have an irregular border, such as hair, fur and wispy areas, such as whiskers. Before masking, though, make a copy of the original image to avoid losing any of the original content. Next, choose Image: Cutout Lab. From there, you make use of the available tools to mask your image.

    Note: This is one area where a drawing tablet is extremely useful. In my experience, using the mouse for complex masking is like trying to paint with a baseball bat. I recommend the use of a Wacom tablet for this type of work.


    This screenshot shows a close-up of bananas in the process of being masked. Zooming in and varying the size of the Highlighter tool allowed me to paint with greater precision around the edges.


    In the Cutout Lab dialog box, here’s the mask with a blue fill.


    This is a preview within the Cutout Lab dialog box and shows a grayscale background (you can also choose from None, Black Matte or White Matte). Depending on the image, you’ll have to experiment with the backgrounds to see which one gives you the clearest edge detail. As you can see, the mask is a bit ragged and needs some touching up.


    Zooming in, I was able to refine the mask using the Add/Remove Detail Tools on the top right of the dialog box. Above is part of the mask showing the result after retouching the edge.


    My final acid test shows the completed mask against a high contrast background. If there are any more ragged edges, they will immediately be apparent.

    Note: The Cutout Lab doesn’t actually create a mask. It creates a floating object which can then be turned into a mask by clicking on Mask: Create:Mask from Object(s) to turn it into a mask

    Feathering a Mask

    Sometimes, a masked image will look cut out and pasted in a composition. To fix this problem, feather the edge of your masks, allowing for a gentler transition into the background. Click on Mask: Mask Outline: Feather.


    In the Feather dialog box, experiment with 5 pixels and more/less for feathering, depending on the size of your image. You’ll also need to choose the direction of the feathering. Your choices are Inside, Middle, Outside and Average. In addition, you need to choose to use Linear or Curved Edges – these control how much transparency is in the feathered section. At right is an image before feathering.


    In the feathered image, I deliberately chose a large width (30) with an Outside direction and Curved edges. so you can see how feathering affects the edge. The image on the left is after feathering.

    How to Get Rid of Fringe Pixels


    When masking, sometimes the mask edge isn’t as defined as you’d like. While the mask may appear to be ok, when the masked image is layered onto another background the masked edge may show up as a ghosting of white or black, a.k.a. a “fringe,” as seen in the image above.


    To remove the fringe, make sure to click on the active layer and in the main menu choose Object: Matting: Remove White Matte. You may have to apply this setting a few times to completely remove the fringe. To see the result, deselect the image by clicking on another object (otherwise the selection around the edge makes it difficult to see your results).

    That’s it.

    © Nathan Segal 2013

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