Quick Mask 101

A “Quick Mask” is one of the easiest ways to select or extract something from a photo. Youcan use it to select a certain area to edit colours, etc. or use it the way I’m going to show you. Take a part out of a photo and use it as a graphic. Iselected a photo of this iguana just chillin on a branch. It’s going to be used in a fictional website, iguanasforsale.com.

Step 1 – Layers
You want to make sure that your photo is a layer. I like to work with it this way because at the end when I need to delete the area around the iguana, it’s much simplier. So I filled the background layer with black and placed the photo on top of that.

Step 2 – The Quick Mask
There are 2 simple ways to enter into the “Quick Mask”.

1. On your Toolbar under the Foreground / Background colours, there is 2 rectangles with a circle inside of them. If you roll your mouse over the one on the right, it turns red. Click on it and you will enter “Quick Mask”.

2. Simply hit the letter “Q”. This will take you into “Quick Mask” as well.

Once you are there, you will notice,
A. That the title bar above your image now says “Layer 1, Quick Mask”
In the layers palette the selected layer is no longer blue but a shade of light gray.

Step 3 – Brush It Up
Hit “B” on your keyboard. This will select your Paint Brush. This is how you are going to define the selection area. Here’s a little bit about Brushes and using them in a “Quick Mask”.

As you know, there are different styles of brushes. The main two being the Hard & Soft Edge Brushes. With the hard edge, you have more of a define & exact selection. If you decide to use the soft edge, you will get more of a “Feathered” type selection. The soft edge is good to use say if you are cutting a woman’s head out and her hair is all over the place. You can go out of the hair area just bit and it will in much easier. For this tutorial, I will be using the hard edge brush.

Also, I will be using varying sizes of brushes. A larger brush to cover the areas away from the edges and smaller ones to get right up against the edges. You are going to be doing this on the fly, so here is a shourtcut to change your brush sizes. Use the bracket
, ( [ / ] ), to increase and decrease sizes.
[ = decrease / ] = increase

Once you begin “Painting” your “Quick Mask”, it will be red. This is your selection area.

Step 4 – Getting It All
You should be doing a lot of Zooming. This is an awesome shortcut to use for that. If you hold down CTRL (win) / COMMAND (mac) and
press the “+”
or “-” keys, you will zoom in and out respectivly. Also use the “Spacebar” shortcut for “Panning” around the image.

You can also exit the “Quick Mask” to check your selection area. Just press “Q” & you will exit the mask and the area that you have been painting will now be a selection. This is good because you may run into something like this, that you can’t really tell when your in the “Quick Mask”

This will help you find areas that you may have missed. Just press “Q” again to enter back into the “Quick Mask” to clean up the selection.

Step 5 – The Whole Selection
So now, you’ve painted something completely red. Your image should look something like this…

If there are areas of your selection that say you “coloured outside the lines”, you can clean these up with the “Eraser” tool. Just select the eraser and get rid of the red that is outside of what you want selected. Once your are happy with the selection, press “Q” to exit the “Quick Mask”. Now it looks like this…

Simply press “Delete” and this will get rid of everything around your selection. So now you have a single iguana.

Use your object now as a graphic. Here is what I used the iguana for on my “fictional” website.

Now that you know how to use a “Quick Mask”, incorporate it into your Photoshop skill set and it will help you out more than you will ever know.


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