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Forums > Digital Art and Retouching > Fluid Mask vs. Remask Search   Reply
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


I've been using Vertus Fluid Mask for as long as I can remember. Even when I shoot knowing I'm going to outline the item for composite work, there is always a bunch of additional PS channel work that I have to do to make a good mask.

I just uploaded a demo cut of Topaz Remask, and I was so impressed with it that after one mask effort, I bought a license. I found it to be so easy to use, and so effective, that I don't envision using Fluid mask ever again.

Am I off my nut, or is this the best masking utility ever? Has anyone encountered different, or poor results with Remask?
Oct 31 13 10:12 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ontherocks
Posts: 22,548
Salem, Oregon, US


i've used fluid mask in the past but once i discovered the built-in quick selection tool (with refine mask) i've just been using that. can the plug-ins do better? always seems like there's some manual cleanup along the edges and hair can be hard regardless.
Oct 31 13 10:18 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


ontherocks wrote:
i've used fluid mask in the past but once i discovered the built-in quick selection tool (with refine mask) i've just been using that. can the plug-ins do better? always seems like there's some manual cleanup along the edges and hair can be hard regardless.

I just outlined a guys head with Remask, and there wasn't one shred of artifact that needed to be cleaned up. I gave up on PS masking utilities ages ago because there was always transparency issues at the edges of the masks.

Do you have any complex outline masks you accomplished with built in PS  tools that you would be willing to share? I would love to see one for comparison values.

Oct 31 13 10:30 am  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
ST Retouch
Posts: 331
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland


Robert,
do not expect too much with plug-ins, you already know that.

I have tried one zillion times to make easy extraction , with one zillion settings , masks, Vertus, Topaz, etc and no way for top professional results.

With some files you can get some decent results with these masks but again even these files will have some "halo edges" .

For my work I never use any plug in masks , simply it doesn't work .

If you want real top professional results with perfect seamless blending , one and only way step by step pixel extraction of skin edges and then softening of skin edges and color decontamination.

My advice forget about any plug in.

Best
ST
Oct 31 13 10:43 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
LA StarShooter
Posts: 1,851
Los Angeles, California, US


Robert Randall wrote:

I just outlined a guys head with Remask, and there wasn't one shred of artifact that needed to be cleaned up. I gave up on PS masking utilities ages ago because there was always transparency issues at the edges of the masks.

Do you have any complex outline masks you accomplished with built in PS  tools that you would be willing to share? I would love to see one for comparison values.

I take your recommendation seriously. But first I need to get really fluid with masking layers. That's next in my practice sessions.

Oct 31 13 11:01 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


ST Retouch wrote:
Robert,
do not expect too much with plug-ins, you already know that.

I have tried one zillion times to make easy extraction , with one zillion settings , masks, Vertus, Topaz, etc and no way for top professional results.

With some files you can get some decent results with these masks but again even these files will have some "halo edges" .

For my work I never use any plug in masks , simply it doesn't work .

If you want real top professional results with perfect seamless blending , one and only way step by step pixel extraction of skin edges and then softening of skin edges and color decontamination.

My advice forget about any plug in.

Best
ST

What you are telling me is that I'm an unprofessional idiot. 

There are a number of people on MM that post in here in a similar fashion. You guys pretty much always sing the same tune, which is if you don't do it my way, you're a moron. Responses like that are what's killing this forum.

I think the plug ins are pretty much like any other tool in the box, you get what you want from them and move on. I'm getting wonderful results with Remask in my work flow, and for you to tell me I'm less than professional for using it is not only rude, it's stupid. If you don't get quality results with a plug in, state your case for why, and then shut your mouth. I think most people that habituate the digital forum are beyond tired of all the posturing that goes on in here.

Oct 31 13 11:01 am  Link  Quote 
Digital Artist
Koray
Posts: 6,688
Ankara, Ankara, Turkey


It will let you down by itself sooner or later but its not that bad too keep around with the others smile

Edit: I sure would like to know if you come up with any good tips using it.
Oct 31 13 11:04 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


Koray wrote:
It will let you down by itself sooner or later but its not that bad too keep around with the others smile

I'm certain it has it's problem issues, but I just did a very complex mask that normally would have taken me an hour using line art, channels and painting, and I did it in about 5 minutes. the clean up on it might take me another five. I love the time savings!

Edit...

The white dog tutorial at this link provides some interesting insight into refining selections, especially using dual color mode. This is pretty much what sold me on it, and it works beautifully in my workflow.

http://www.topazlabs.com/tutorials/remask.html

Oct 31 13 11:06 am  Link  Quote 
Digital Artist
Koray
Posts: 6,688
Ankara, Ankara, Turkey


Robert Randall wrote:
I'm certain it has it's problem issues, but I just did a very complex mask that normally would have taken me an hour using line art, channels and painting, and I did it in about 5 minutes. the clean up on it might take me another five. I love the time savings!

glad you enjoy it and I know what you mean. that cleaning up is what I was thinking would happen and I personally dont like it. If the background is a mess I still go for the pen tool to have it done once and for all for geometric shapes just in case.

edit: yes I know that tutorial but things most often dont work the same for me...I sure will experiment more though smile

Oct 31 13 11:12 am  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
ST Retouch
Posts: 331
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland


Robert Randall wrote:

What you are telling me is that I'm an unprofessional idiot. 

There are a number of people on MM that post in here in a similar fashion. You guys pretty much always sing the same tune, which is if you don't do it my way, you're a moron. Responses like that are what's killing this forum.

I think the plug ins are pretty much like any other tool in the box, you get what you want from them and move on. I'm getting wonderful results with Remask in my work flow, and for you to tell me I'm less than professional for using it is not only rude, it's stupid. If you don't get quality results with a plug in, state your case for why, and then shut your mouth. I think most people that habituate the digital forum are beyond tired of all the posturing that goes on in here.

Did I write  something similar that you are "unprofessional idiot" ? ?????
Did I write that??????
I answered very kindly ( read again my post) and told you my experience with masks and at the end I don't understand your attack?

Anyway, wish you the best and good luck .

ST

Oct 31 13 11:18 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


Koray wrote:

glad you enjoy it and I know what you mean. that cleaning up is what I was thinking would happen and I personally dont like it. If the background is a mess I still go for the pen tool to have it done once and for all for geometric shapes just in case.

edit: yes I know that tutorial but things most often dont work the same for me...I sure will experiment more though smile

Typically, I use the pen for hard lines, but the bane of my existence has been transitional areas where transparency is the issue. Like everyone else, I have my own workarounds for getting the results I like, but this one has such a huge time saver inherent in it, that the last minute paint fix is really no work at all.

Oct 31 13 11:20 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


ST Retouch wrote:

Did I write  something similar that you are "unprofessional idiot" ? ?????
Did I write that??????
I answered very kindly ( read again my post) and told you my experience with masks and at the end I don't understand your attack?

Anyway, wish you the best and good luck .

ST

The passive aggressive inference in your statement was so blatant, no one could have missed it. Now you're doing your typical woe is me innocence dance. If you have something to share in terms of experience, share it. If not, quit thread jacking.

Oct 31 13 11:23 am  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Pictus
Posts: 1,022
Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


I use the 2 smile
For chromakey friendly images the preference is more Vertus Fluid Mask, but for the rest more Topaz ReMask.

Both needs upgrade...
Vertus to 100% x64 and Remask to be upgraded with the new algorithms Topaz already have.
Oct 31 13 05:02 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MC Seoul Photography
Posts: 432
Seoul, Seoul, Korea (South)


topaz remask is useful in a situation where you have something transparent and want to take the time to clean it up.
They have a tutorial with a white wedding veil. It doesn't work anything like what they show, but if you spend a little time on it you can mask the transparency properly on those things using that. I don't know if you can do that with basic photoshop tutorials and if you want to do that pixel by pixel to be a "professional" you can spend the next 100 years masking a single image..
Oct 31 13 05:08 pm  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Kevin_Connery
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US


I like Topaz' Remask. It's often sufficient by itself for images that are destined for the web (lower resolution), and it handles some transitions much more effectively than PS's native masking.

Some channel ops can be handy to form the initial outlines as well, just as they can for native masking/refine edge.

What I still haven't nailed down is when it will be better than native, when native will be better, or when only the more difficult approaches will do the trick. Fortunately, the time 'lost' in trying the quick solutions is typically much less than I save when they work.

Also, Robert, if you haven't tried the quick selection tool and refine edges in CS6, I suggest you try it again; there were substantial improvements in that version. It still might not be enough, but it has gotten better.
Nov 02 13 12:39 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
DHayes Photography
Posts: 4,842
Richmond, Virginia, US


ontherocks wrote:
i've used fluid mask in the past but once i discovered the built-in quick selection tool (with refine mask) i've just been using that. can the plug-ins do better? always seems like there's some manual cleanup along the edges and hair can be hard regardless.

I have tried Fluid Mask and Remask several times over the last few years.  In all honesty, they don't work any better than Photoshop's built-in quick selection/refine mask.  Especially with images that have soft edges or little definition between the subject's color and the background.  Shooting against a green screen or some other solid color with a contrasty, hard edged subject is a cakewalk for both plugins.  And Photoshop.

Nov 02 13 02:55 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


Kevin_Connery wrote:
Also, Robert, if you haven't tried the quick selection tool and refine edges in CS6, I suggest you try it again; there were substantial improvements in that version. It still might not be enough, but it has gotten better.

I'm still on CS5. I downloaded a demo cut of CS6 and didn't find anything that appealed to me in terms of my work flow. I grew up on systems that weren't fail safe, basically no undo of any kind. That has had a direct impact on how I use PS. You guys probably know 100 times more about PS than I ever will.

Nov 02 13 08:20 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jakov Markovic
Posts: 1,128
Belgrade, Central Serbia, Serbia


Um, even on CS5, as long as your "+" doesn't go over the edge, refine mask will give you perfect results on clean backgrounds
Nov 02 13 02:42 pm  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Kristiana-Retouch
Posts: 289
London, England, United Kingdom


I remember trying ReMask while ago - and I found that to precise mask with it takes same effort and time as masking with channels in PS, so I just didn't saw why I should add it to my workflow. Maybe I didn't gave it enough time, don't know.
Never tried Fluid Mask.
Nov 02 13 04:15 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Click Hamilton
Posts: 34,552
San Diego, California, US


I would love to find a good extraction tool.

With everything I've tried, I always end up doing it all by hand to finish it off anyway, making the extraction tool relatively unimportant in the process. I use what's available to me in Photoshop.

Since it's Bob making this recommendation, I'm going to take a look at Remask.
[edit: jeeze ... that sounds like a drippy suck up]

Thanks!
Nov 02 13 04:32 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
matt-h2
Posts: 528
Oakland, California, US


I posted recently on another thread about this that Remask has significantly improved my workflow. The UI could stand to be improved, and the company pretends it's find, but beyond that I am generally very happy.

In my experience it breaks down on masks of previously extracted images. On the second or third level extract, the little artifacts start adding up (or multilying!). That's my biggest substantive gripe. And that there does not seem to be any way to save a mask within Remask.
Nov 02 13 05:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Motordrive Photography
Posts: 2,930
Lodi, California, US


matt-h2 wrote:
And that there does not seem to be any way to save a mask within Remask.

this was one of my questions, if Remask can directly make an alpha channel.

Nov 02 13 05:34 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


I did a quick comparison between CS5 calculations and Remask. Quick in that I took an image that I felt would be easy to mask, and gave it my best shot in all phases. The Remask effort took exactly 18 seconds, the Calculations took about 1 minute, and the additional Refine Mask took about two minutes. As anyone can plainly see, the CS5 effort still needs quite a bit of work, whereas the Remask effort is pretty close to perfect.

I’m not certain what kind of time it would take, or what results anyone would get, from an approach that incorporated affecting a mask one pixel at a time, but I’m pretty certain the Remask image in this case would be the superior image.

http://www.robert-randall.com/MM/remaskTest.jpg
Nov 02 13 05:42 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JoshuaBerardi
Posts: 613
Davenport, Iowa, US


Robert,

thank you for sharing your findings. Good stuff.
Nov 02 13 08:20 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ontherocks
Posts: 22,548
Salem, Oregon, US


can you share the original on that? then we can try our methods and see how they come out by comparison.

Robert Randall wrote:
I did a quick comparison between CS5 calculations and Remask.

Nov 02 13 08:54 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Click Hamilton
Posts: 34,552
San Diego, California, US


I went through their basic tutorials with a difficult, dark and noisy iphone photo in CS6 to challenge these tools. I had several areas of low contrast that had to be computed by Topaz.

http://www.topazlabs.com/tutorials/remask.html

The tools are simple, fast and effective. For cleaning up the difficult areas, I found it easiest to work in the 4-image split screen mode. I could use the tools on any screen, and watch the effects on the other screens. This removes all the guess work from the "contaminated" areas.

Note: the Topaz ReMask3 I had was not listed as compatible for over CS5 and would not show up under my filters list with a normal installation. I fiddled with my own plug-in shortcut from the installation files, and it then worked on CS6-64


http://www.pbase.com/image/153210289.jpg

I know the detail of the hairs coming out of his ears does not show here, but it's well extracted on the lighted side of the image without extraction outlines.

I can quickly clean up the lines on the near zero contrast dark half of the image with a few brush strokes. Watching the effects of remask tool strokes on the grey background as I apply the strokes to the other images is what made it easy.

I realize this is not a fuzzy hair photo, but the background was cluttered and there were several areas not too clearly defined in darkness and iphone noise. Topaz found the boundaries pretty well.

http://www.pbase.com/schutze/image/153213227/medium.jpg
Harvey Bogart - photo-bomb at Rick's Café

For hair wisps, watch the 3rd one, lower right called "hair masking":
http://www.topazlabs.com/tutorials/remask.html
Nov 03 13 11:14 am  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Pictus
Posts: 1,022
Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


matt-h2 wrote:
And that there does not seem to be any way to save a mask within Remask.

CTRL+S = Save
CTRL+L = Load

Nov 03 13 12:06 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Click Hamilton
Posts: 34,552
San Diego, California, US


After the mask is made and we are back in Photoshop, what are some of the best tools or techniques for blending the composites images together in a natural way?

I tend to go next to the brightness/contrast sliders to make the layers the way I like them, usually more vivid in the foreground to punch the subject and lower contrast to subordinate or separate the distance the background. Same for lighting and shading adjustments - brighter to punch the subject and often darker to subordinate the background. I might use the burn tool to calm down the look of compositing and get the lighting more believable. Foreground colors tend to be more vivid, and background tends to be more desaturated as the distance increases.

What else softens the paper cutout look?

Maybe some transparency brushed in with the eraser tool set low and soft?

Match color layers?
Nov 03 13 05:34 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


Click Hamilton wrote:
After the mask is made and we are back in Photoshop, what are some of the best tools or techniques for blending the composites images together in a natural way?

I tend to go next to the brightness/contrast sliders to make the layers the way I like them, usually more vivid in the foreground to punch the subject and lower contrast to subordinate or separate the distance the background. Same for lighting and shading adjustments - brighter to punch the subject and often darker to subordinate the background. I might use the burn tool to calm down the look of compositing and get the lighting more believable. Foreground colors tend to be more vivid, and background tends to be more desaturated as the distance increases.

What else softens the paper cutout look?

Maybe some transparency brushed in with the eraser tool set low and soft?

Match color layers?

Match color is great for making the image appear compatible in term of color pallet, I use it all the time.

That hair mask I made above comes with a little trick attached. If I'm extracting a subject from a background that isn't compatible with the target background, in terms of luminosity, I filter the mask with minimum or maximum (choke or spread) to retract it a bit. Using a duplicate of the extracted layer made prior to choking, I place it below the choked layer in multiply mode. All remnants of edge glow disappear.

Nov 03 13 08:20 pm  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
AKMac
Posts: 326
London, England, United Kingdom


Click Hamilton wrote:
After the mask is made and we are back in Photoshop, what are some of the best tools or techniques for blending the composites images together in a natural way?

I tend to go next to the brightness/contrast sliders to make the layers the way I like them, usually more vivid in the foreground to punch the subject and lower contrast to subordinate or separate the distance the background. Same for lighting and shading adjustments - brighter to punch the subject and often darker to subordinate the background. I might use the burn tool to calm down the look of compositing and get the lighting more believable. Foreground colors tend to be more vivid, and background tends to be more desaturated as the distance increases.

What else softens the paper cutout look?

Maybe some transparency brushed in with the eraser tool set low and soft?

Match color layers?

There's an old trick for fine-tuning the edge of a mask that's too harsh or shows halos. Slightly blur the mask and apply levels from the main menu. As you move the levels sliders ou can watch the mask choking in or spreading against the underlying layer. I think you can do similar with refine edge, but old habits die hard.

Nov 03 13 11:10 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jerry Bennett
Posts: 2,221
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US


Wow! Remask looks great! Does it work with the new PS CC? I'm planning on switching over in 2014, from CS 3.
Nov 05 13 12:11 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 21,299
New York, New York, US


Click Hamilton wrote:
After the mask is made and we are back in Photoshop, what are some of the best tools or techniques for blending the composites images together in a natural way?

I tend to go next to the brightness/contrast sliders to make the layers the way I like them, usually more vivid in the foreground to punch the subject and lower contrast to subordinate or separate the distance the background. Same for lighting and shading adjustments - brighter to punch the subject and often darker to subordinate the background. I might use the burn tool to calm down the look of compositing and get the lighting more believable. Foreground colors tend to be more vivid, and background tends to be more desaturated as the distance increases.

What else softens the paper cutout look?

Maybe some transparency brushed in with the eraser tool set low and soft?

Match color layers?

I'm working on a series of composited images.  The first should be done in a couple of weeks and I'll post it when it's completed.  The first shot utilizes seven elements all shot separately and combined - four background plate elements and three individuals shot in-studio.

Besides all the things necessary to have the shots fit together well (same lens position, focal length, lighting, etc.) I find it is helpful to have a series of check layers that I can turn on and off to see how HSL blend together.  This way I can work just on luminance and get that to match first.  Then I can move on to Hue and Saturation so that everything blends as I want it to.  By matching these values across the components you can create a result that "fits".  I'm also using some more painterly color grading for this series (for a reason) and that also helps in achieving a blended palette.

If H,S or L do not match, then your composite will not blend together.

Nov 05 13 01:33 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Click Hamilton
Posts: 34,552
San Diego, California, US


Ideas for inspiration or practice from today's news:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article … paign=1490

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/11/05/article-2487704-1932F51300000578-518_470x470.jpg
Nov 05 13 03:24 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Robert Randall
Posts: 13,842
Chicago, Illinois, US


Click Hamilton wrote:
Ideas for inspiration or practice from today's news:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article … paign=1490

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/11/05/article-2487704-1932F51300000578-518_470x470.jpg

Beautiful stuff, even the guy with wings...

Nov 05 13 03:32 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Click Hamilton
Posts: 34,552
San Diego, California, US


Robert Randall wrote:
Beautiful stuff, even the guy with wings...

It runs through all the different tools offered by ReMask, so I thought it might be good subject material for practice.

Nov 05 13 04:58 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Wilde One
Posts: 2,359
Santa Monica, California, US


Photoshop's selection tools have become so good they are way better than the plugins'.

I have Fluid Mask, and it has always been a cumbersome application.

Photoshop is at least four times as fast and needs less repair than the Fluid Mask results.

CS6, above all, has wonderful selection tools.
Nov 05 13 11:31 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Wilde One
Posts: 2,359
Santa Monica, California, US


AKMac wrote:

There's an old trick for fine-tuning the edge of a mask that's too harsh or shows halos. Slightly blur the mask and apply levels from the main menu. As you move the levels sliders ou can watch the mask choking in or spreading against the underlying layer. I think you can do similar with refine edge, but old habits die hard.

Nice trick.

You're right, the most recent "refine edge" is very good. I recently had to select fur - I couldn't believe how well it worked.

Nov 05 13 11:33 pm  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
AKMac
Posts: 326
London, England, United Kingdom


Now that I think about it, that old trick has certainly been rendered obsolete by the Photoshop's Refine Mask capabilities.
Nov 06 13 12:59 am  Link  Quote 
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