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Refining Your Mask

Lesson 5 from: Masking for Composite Photography

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

5. Refining Your Mask

Lesson Info

Refining Your Mask

Now we're gonna talk about choking a mask. So I want to talk about different ways of choking a mask. Again we always have the three techniques, three colors, so we can figure out what's the best technique for this one. So, step number one is you can actually paint on a mask. And let's just be on the mask while we look on this, look at this technique. Now if I was to paint with a paintbrush, (paint brush noise) well that's crap, right? But what if, I don't know if many people know this, what if I change that paint to Soft Light mode? So if I paint with Soft Light, it's gonna fatten it up. If I paint with black, it's gonna constrict. So, a way of choking a mask, or making it smaller, trying to figure out what's the best way to look at this on the screen, is to actually paint with the color black on the mode called Soft Light or Overlay, and you can choke back in individual areas just where you need to. Now what's nice about this you guys is it makes your mask not look so fat, so uniform,...

because what's happening is inherently in the process of painting, in the process of painting, your hand, my hand's at different pressures. So you get a little bit of that undulating thing you get with your hand and your pressure. This also works if you use a mouse, doesn't work quite as well, but it does work, and so I am hand choking. (laughs) I'm choking it, but by hand. So what is that? That is painting, on a mask, using Overlay or Soft Light. You can, in addition to that, use the Burn and Dodge tool on the mask. And you can choke a mask by using the Burn and Dodge tool. I'm gonna do it on the gray-scale so you can see it. Hopefully see it. And get a similar technique. It kinda doesn't matter, the only thing is that on the Burn and Dodge you can select shadow, midtone, or highlights, on the paintbrush you can't, right? On the paintbrush you're just painting on Overlay or Soft Light, and on the paintbrush when you're painting you've got to be very conscious, are you painting with the color black? Are you painting with the color white? Or some derivative of that, like a tone, okay? So that's two different techniques. I'm gonna go back in my history for just a bit. Alright, hope you guys are hanging in there. I know this is rudimentary and this doesn't matter, this does not have to be hair, this could be a tree, this could be anything.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Masking for Composite Presentation & Notes
Masking Photoshop Actions

Ratings and Reviews

Katie McLellan

Lisa is one of my favorite instructors on Creative Live. She is smart, fast, funny, and packs more great info in each class than anyone else I have seen. Admittedly, I watch her classes multiple times and often do a little side-by-side practice with her support here, but I have learned so so much. Highly recommend her courses.


Wow! I am so glad I bought the studio pass because I am going to have to re-watch that several times before I can pack all of that info into my brain! These masking techniques are so applicable in so many different situations. Lisa does a great job explaining as she goes, the how, what, when and why you would use different techniques for different situations and different subjects. What a great class!


I really enjoyed this class. It is fast paced though, and probably not for a beginner. But I really appreciate how much information is jam-packed in this short course. For anyone familiar with photoshop who wants to improve their masking skills fast, this is a great class. I would highly recommend this and any other class taught by Lisa Carney for advanced photoshop techniques.

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