Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fluid Mask 3 - Another Easy-to-Use Masking Software

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fluid Mask 3 
Another Easy-to-Use 
Masking Software

      If you read yesterday,s post, I wrote about Perfect Mask 5. Masking software allows you to remove unwanted "clutter" or distractions from a photograph.  If you need to photograph merchandise that are big,then you my have distractions around you. You may not be able to change the camera angle, or camera position, so you have to do what you can. Toys are usuall small and easy to place on a plain foundation or against a plain background.

      I'm going to talk today about Fluid Mask 3, a stand-alone software. Stand-alone means that you open up the software and do your masking in the program. A plug-in means that you can place a program in another program such as Photoshop.

     The reason that I purchase a Fluid Mask 3 is that is easy to understand, easy to learn to use, and it's more "fun" than Photoshop.  Photoshop is the # 1 selling image-editing software in the world. However, it progresses with  what I feel is too much assumption, that most buyers of the latest version already know how to use Photoshop. Or if you are a new user to Photoshop, you'll simply learn the program in time.  

     A whole industry has evolved around the #1 programs in use such as  3DMax, Microsoft Word, or Adobe Photoshop. There are websites,  blogs, seminars, teachers, tutorials, and a whole list of other  free or paying ways to learn the program. 

     The problem from my perspective is that these programs forgot to simplify their programs and make them more user friendly! They've also kept almost every feature from 15 years ago, and have not bothered to limit the size of the program. So for Photoshop, you need are now recommended  to have the latest computer with a quad 4, 3.43 GHZ processor, 16 GB of Ram, a hard drive of at least 2 TB, and so on and so forth. The download or DVD takes up 1.4 GB of space on your computer also. 

     And so do you  now wonder why your computer freezes or is sloooooooow?


     Fluid Mask 3 as I already mentioned is a stand-alone program. I'll check later and then correct what I just said if it in fact has a plug-in to Photoshop.  Masking is a term from the film era, when special people would cut an image from a slide and place it on a larger transparent sheet.  If a shoe company needed 10 different shoes and a slide of a tiger, then the film "Stripper" would strip the images from the plastic film base, and arrange  all 10 images, plus the tiger on the page. A camera would then be used to make the 4 colour separations that would be used for printing. (Red,Green,Blue, and of course Black)

    Today, a computer has replaced a roomful of these masterful and skilled people, and  almost everyone  can learn to do this in Photoshop or a masking program. However, I've oversimplified this.  However,  a pro photographer will photograph the  subject to the correct size for the page layout of a magazine, will carefully colour-correct the item being photographed, and will send special  "profiles" so that the printer receives the exact colour matches for his/her commercial company machines.

     Smaller companies or individuals will shy away form a pro photographer who charges what they consider to be "a lot of money". However,  as the old expression goes, "you get wat you pay for.
I saw a lot of terrible photography when Photoshop, and then the digital camera first came out. The industry (fashion, and other photography genres) passed off the new way of taking and enhancing photos as a "new genre". However, it was a poor excuse for bad photography. Thankfully, from my point of view, excellent photography has come back. The days of having your son or daughter  or salesperson photograph your $ 10,000,000.00 in  sales  product are going away (finally), and  excellent photography is coming back - of course at a price!

  Fluid Mask 3

    Like other masking programs,  Fluid Mask 3 uses a system of 2 colours that represent adding or removing part or parts of an image.   Also, the process can involve a pen tool for defining highly detailed and intricate details that need to be removed from the main item. An example might be blades of grass from a photo of a shoe.

     What I like about   Fluid Mask 3 and  Perfect Mask 5 is their:

1. Ease of use
2. Simple to learn and understand
3. Fast learning rate

     I'm not saying that Photoshop is not good.  What I am saying is that these other programs are \  

An Original and Authentic Hubley Cast Iron Racer
Circa 1930's-1940's

      Lately, I've been photographing my toys against a white background. I saw another seller doing this on E-Bay, and complimented him for this. What that does is present the item cleanly and by itself, without  colours, items in the photo, or  other distractions. But what if a publisher wanted my toy photos to all be against a plain background? What would I do? Well, I'd use a mask to do what they would be asking of me.

The Opening Window in Fluid Mask 3 

The left side menu

1. Green represents keeping part of the image.
2. Red  represents removal of a part of the image
3. The eraser icon erases part so of the image.
4. The blue will show as a background when you do your removal
5. The checkered white and gray pattern will allow for no background at all.

The menu on the right side allows for larger or smaller sized tools.
Large easy to remove area will use a large tool, while intricate detail will use a small tool

 Detail  that is very intricate  will need a finer "mesh" and pattern to define all of the photo parts.
Once you've done the mesh, you simply  go over the mesh with a red or green brush 
(remove or keep).

After tht, you then press that small icon of the man against blue with an arrow pointing to a checkered background.

Here is a screen shot of a larger-sized mesh grid.
In this case, the actual car has lots of straight and smooth surfaces, so the larger mesh grid is applicable here.

Here's the car photo before using the masking program.

 The circle with the cross-hairs in the middle is the red removal icon.
Drag or click, and part of the image will turn red.

 Here is Here is an enlargement to show you the actual grids or shapes generated by the program.

Part of the car was being reddened to be removed later.
When you get to learn more and more of the program, you of course will refine and improve your skills. What I did was simply use  the eraser tool to bring back an area that might have been lost, because it had been reddened out.

Here is a screen capture of the areas that I reddened for removal.
Because, I was in the initial stages of learning, I haven't "refined" the tools for more accuracy.

Like all programs, the subtleties  and nuances of adjacent similar tones or colours is still not that easy to separate. I've placed the arrows to show you where potential problems will arise.

Different tools and settings will improve the actual capture and separation of the car form its background

Like all programs, there are several ways to work on an image. 
In this case, any area that should not be red (for removal) can be changed to green.

A close up showing parts of the leather helmet being reddened out for removal.
The round circle with the crosshairs is set for green, to make those area "keepers".

The  adjustment menu window for  making the brush smaller or larger.

A screen capture of the car removed from the background.
As you can see,I need to work on the car a lot more.
Of course, it took me 10 minutes to learn the program and do this with the car.
Please keep in mind though, that when you have experience in other programs such as Photoshop, the move tho Fluid Mask 3 is much easier!

The topmost icons of the pencils are for fine capture of areas that you want to keep (green) or remove. Photoshop has similar menu tools.

The checked off "keep" simply means that an area of the car will be kept for eventual saving on the computer.

 If I don't get a 100% result in  Fluid Mask 3, I can always save the file, and then work in Photoshop.
A fast result using Photoshop.

Or, I can choose to stay in Fluid Mask 3, and add or remove parts of the photo
In the above image, I've restored or returned parts of the photo that were originally erased.

 For more precise work, there is the eraser.
Different  precision levels are available, along with the other window to determine size.

The final image.

When you save the image in Fluid Mask 3 
it will be as a layer against a checkered 
white and gray pattern.

It's also saved as a png or tiff file for use elsewhere.

I got the white background in Photoshop by Layers >>Flatten Image.

It's as I said before, not 100%, but for being able to work with a photo in a short amount of time
and after just a brief experience with the program,it's quite good.

In a few months, it will be 99.9%!

So, I've written this post 5 days early, and am trying to make up for the lapse that I had last month.

Thanks for dropping by, 
and as always have a great morning, afternoon, or evening wherever you may be.

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