PI5 Mask Mode Flower Child

The new Mask Mode in PI 5.0 is a little tricky to understand, especially if you're used to the Mask selection mode in PI 4.2. However, Mask Mode is a actually a more powerful tool for making selections. This tutorial show how to use Mask Mode to select a child's face from a photo, painting a mask with black, white and shades of gray for a gradual transparency.

Mask Mode image

You can use the pictures shown below to do the tutorial, or use a picture of your own or a friend's child. The pansy is from Mark Charneski's beautiful fresh flower scans. We'll start by opening the child's picture in the work space. 



To begin, choose the Lasso selection tool. In the Attributes toolbar, set the Mode to New, select "Snap to edges," Sensitivity=5 and Soft edge=2. This will "snap" the lasso selection closer to the high contrast edges within the child image. Press and hold down on the mouse button down while dragging around the the girl's head and shoulders.  Don't try to do a perfect job, the idea is to just get a rough selection that you can fine tune in Mask mode.

After making the Lasso selection, you'll want to be sure that the Mask color allows you to see the girl in the image clearly. Choose File, Preferences. When the Preferences box opens, set the Mask color and transparency to red, 60% transparency. Click OK. If you're using a different image, pick a mask color and transparency that works for you. 

mask preferences

Choose Edit, Mask Mode. A transparent red mask will cover the entire image, except the area previously selected with the Lasso. A screen shot is shown below. Click on the Paint Brush tool. In the Attributes toolbar, select a round brush, 5 pixels, Transparency=0, Soft edge=0, Preset=None. Now we'll paint out the mask with black, white or shades of gray, which are the only colors available in Mask mode. 

Mask Mode after Lasso selection

A foreground color of black will be selected automatically in the Color Palette on the right side of the work space. Black paint adds to the red mask, while white paint removes it. You can also remove the red mask by clicking on the Eraser in the Attributes toolbar to erase parts of the mask you've painted back in. However, you cannot erase the initial red mask created by the Lasso selection tool. 

color palette

Mask Mode lets you toggle back and forth, adding and subtracting to the mask by changing from black to white paint color. Use the Color Palette to select paint color, or click in the Attributes toolbar's color box to access colors. 

Select the Zoom tool and click once in the image to zoom up to 200%. That way you'll be able to see image detail better while painting. Notice that when I made the Lasso selection, part of the background was selected too. Parts of the mask (see arrow) have to be painted back in. 

places that need work

To restore the mask, use the paintbrush, with black paint, to paint back the red mask. Near the arrow, you can see where part of the mask has been painted back in.

painting mask back in with black 

It's easy to paint back too much of the mask with black paint, like I did here. 

painting back too much mask

Switch to white paint, or click on the Eraser in the Attributes toolbar. Then paint out the red mask. This isn't perfect, but it's pretty close.

correcting with white paint or the eraser

Keep going all the way around the selection, using black to add to the red mask, and white to get rid of the red mask. Paint with black to restore the mask all the way up to the girl's chin.

paint with black up under chin

At the bottom edges of the girl's long hair, use black to paint out the tips of her hair, and be sure that the white shirt and blue collar are completely masked.

raggedy edges of hair

Now here's the really clever part about painting in Mask Mode -- You can paint with shades of gray to vary the transparency of the mask! To create a semi-transparent, gradual fade along the edge of the selection, paint with a light gray. 

In the Attributes toolbar, right click in the color box to open the color box. Choose the light gray color shown selected at left. With the brush size set at 10 pixels, Soft edge=2, carefully paint a line of light gray all along the inside edge of the mask (bordering the red). Be particularly careful around the top of the girl's head and under her chin. Then paint more light gray along the bottom edges of her long hair.  

paint in shades of gray

Choose the Zoom tool and from the dropdown list in the Attributes toolbar, select 100%. Alternatively, choose View, Actual View, to return to normal viewing. 

Select Edit, and deselect (uncheck) Mask Mode. The red mask disappears. Your selection area should look like the one shown at left. You'll see that the ends of her hair are not selected because we left them masked. 

selection area

Right click on the selection and choose Soften. When the soften box opens, soften by 5 pixels. Copy the selection into the Clipboard. Open up the pansy image in the work space and hit Ctrl+V to paste the girl's face into the flower.

To fade the edges of the girl's face into the flower even better, choose Edit, Fadeout. When the Fadeout box opens, enter the values shown below for a Two-Color radial Fill type and click OK.

fadeout values

The fadeout has lightened the girl's face a bit. To perk up the color and make it look better against the vibrant yellow and purple of the pansy, select Format, Style. When the Style box opens, click on the Other tab. Select Colorful and click OK. The girl's coloring has been revived. Notice too that the tips of her hair blend into the purple markings on the bottom yellow petal. Right click and Merge All.

paste face into pansy, apply Style filter

Now we just have a few more steps to finish the image. Choose the Magic Wand selection tool. In the Attributes toolbar, set the Similarity to 10. Click in the black background to select it.

Choose Edit, Fill. When the Fill box opens, click on the Texture tab. Select Grass 4 and click OK to fill the background with grass.

Right click and Invert, to select the flower. Then right click and Convert to Object. 

adding grass to the background

Right click one more time and choose Shadow. Adding a shadow will help the flower to pop out more from the background. When the Shadow box opens, choose the shadow options show below. 

add a shadow

Right click and Merge All. Your Mask Mode "flower child" is finished! 

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