Cross-Posting FTW!

Since my blog doesn’t see much traffic and this might actually be useful to some of you (though I’m sure most of us know all about it) I figured I’d duplicate some content. Content injection in t-minus 1 second. Bam!

I’m no photoshop wizard, far from it. So if I overlook anything, please comment. The purpose of this tutorial is to share a very basic aspect of photoshop that made a huge difference in my photo editing process once I found out about it. I’m not suggesting this as a solution for a multitude of problems, it has a specific implementation and there are other tools in photoshop that do different things more efficiently, but this one is certainly handy. Also, screenshots! That’s worth the price of admission, isn’t it?

This tutorial is done in Photoshop CS2. It should be the same in previous versions up to Photoshop 6, prior to that I have no idea. Quickmask allows you to use the paintbrush (or pencil, or airbrush, or any coloring tool) to create a selection area.

Step 1. Load your image into Photoshop. I know, right? Defies all reason.

Step 2. On the left hand toolbar there are two rectangles below the Color Selection area, each rectangle has a circle inside it, and the colors are the inverse of the other rectangle. The rectangle on the left is “Standard Mode”, the one on the right is “Quickmask Mode”. Toggle Quickmask Mode by clicking the rectangle on the right.

Find it? Ok, good. Once you’ve entered Quickmask mode, it’s on to step 3.

Step 3. Select the painbrush tool. Determine the properties of your paintbrush based on the level of detail you want to select. (1px for very fine edge work, 100px for insanely broad strokes, as you know) then, you…well…Paint. Just so:

Step 4. Got that? Great job! Having painted your area go ahead and click back to “Standard Edit Mode” (the rectangle on the left). The first thing you will notice is that the area you had painted is actually the only area of the photo NOT selected. The QuickMask masks an area OUT, and selects the rest of the photo. It’s important to keep that in mind, because if you start changing hue or desaturating and you realize it’s doing everything but the area you wanted it to do, you may say some unpleasant words that really don’t reflect your personality, and could be taken amiss by passers-by. I’m sure you’ve guessed Step 5.

Step 5. Click on Select>Inverse to change your selection. When you have inversed your selection you have only the area you wanted it to select, the area you “painted”. Tres magnifique! Now perform whatever madness you’d intended for this swath of image. If it’s a well lit structure in a photograph that had a very long exposure time you might try adjusting the lightness, or desaturating it, or overlaying it with an opaque black layer. You understand that with this selection method and layers there are a multitude of pretty tricks that can be performed. Here’s what I did:

Perhaps not the best use of hue and saturation, but you get the idea. Ignore the poor quality of my selection, that’s the “quick” and “dirty” portion of the tutorial.