Looking pro level masking plugin for Photoshop.
I was a beta tester for PShop 1.0. After many years as a retoucher, I still find the best masking workflow to be primarily derived from vector paths made to appropriately feathered layer masks, with contrast masks or hand painted masks for hair, fabric or other "fuzzy" edges.
Every third party masking solution I have tried required more cleanup time than I would typically invest in my more reliable methods. But perhaps things have improved since I Iast checked? I web searched for relaible reviews for third party masking plugins, but found mostly promotional boilerplate from vendors.
Any pro retouchers/photographers out there who can recommend a professionall level third party masking plugin?
What PS are you using? If CS5 or 6 not sure you need a plug in. Take a look at this russell brown tutorial. http://tv.adobe.com/watch/the-russell-brown-show/masking-basics-in-pho toshop-cs5/
Thanks Curt. That will be usefull for live models against seamless backgrounds, and othe images with appropriate transition areas. But I just tried it with a beauty shot of a steak knife shot against white, and the quick mask tool can't distinguish between the shiny blade & the light grey background. Will try again when I have more time. But we need a perfect edge in this case, and once again a vector mask as a "0" pixel selection produces a perfect edge quickly. We often need to remove product edge flaws, and only a human can distinguish between intentional and flawed elements on a damaged or prototype product. Nonetheless, an excellent & entertaining tutorial by the inimitable Russell B!
I've done a fair number of "hairy" (high detail) photos on busy backgrounds, and the Refine Edge function still works, though sometimes with additional challenges (e.g., things that need to be hand-masked or hidden after).
Realistically, in order to do better than the software currently does, you almost have to imagine software that actually perceives the subject material - i.e., "knows" what the subject is, what hair is, etc.
FauxtoGuy, post an example (or part of one) that shows what you're dealing with, and I'm sure we can provide more detailed help.
Operating Refine Edge adeptly, and getting a feel for what to worry about and what to leave for hand-masking and tone blending after take some practice and finesse, but it's good stuff and it can really work.
But I just tried it with a beauty shot of a steak knife shot against white, and the quick mask tool can't distinguish between the shiny blade & the light grey background.
If you are doing "beauty shots", and you want to make a mask, you should be shooting against a background that has contrast with the subject. Not a expert here, but seems like you are making it way to difficult to separate the subject from the background with a grey blade and a grey background, even for the best plug in.
If making a mask of the knife, you can always put it on a grey background afterwards IMO.
In this case, knife is shiny steel, with black handle, so black BG would not work. Also, the blade picks up a gradient, so a grey BG would not work. Many products are not flat, but have reflective surfaces, so using a "bluescreen" for knockout would fail too. Like I said, the tools in the video look very promising for other types of images. We often shoot holiday wreaths & & other organic products (for which we shoot contrast masks) and I suspect the masking tools will be an improvement there. There isn't really anything I haven't learned to mask quickly & accurately (esp. hard goods) But frizzy haired models shot in studio will likely be masked more efficently with the masking tools. As stated above, will probe deeper when time permits. Looks promising, and I don't really like having third party plugins which need to be updated.