Image masking allows a designer to make images with irregular shapes dynamically. For more perfection in the extraction of things like hair and fur from its background, image masking is the best solution.

Image masking is included in some of the basic image processing operations. Through image masking one is able to select and mark background around the object of the image, and only what falls inside the selection is printed and everything else outside of the selection, is ignored or omitted. By using image masking technique, one can extract, eliminate or detach a particular object from the rest of the image.

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It is not so simple to mask an image. It is a task which is demanding, time consuming, eye straining and eye numbing. The amount of work and time which will go into masking an image would depend on the image that needs masking, and how much fine detailing would be required.

It would be interesting to know that image masking, one of the features offered by Photoshop, is profoundly used for product catalogs.

Photoshop offers numerous image masking tools catering to user’s varying needs; there are tools like Magnetic Lasso, Quick Mask, Magic Wand and the Pen Tool. It is true that the complexity involved in the process of image masking takes a great amount of concentration and labour, however, Photoshop has given an option to use the particular tool, as per the exact requirement.

It is advantageous to use mask layers than other forms of masking because mask layers can facilitate to effect a change, bringing the image distortion to a minimum. The mask layers technique gives professional effect to objects in all kind of faded or distorted pictures; the result is an ultra sharp image for your portal.

Different tools used for image masking have been explained below in a nutshell:

Quick Mask:

Quick Mask is a tool which is comparatively easy and a time saver. With this tool, you are allowed to paint an inverse selection using brush, paint bucket, or pencil etc; shades of black and grey are used. You would notice that when you paint the background, the area starts turning pink in colour. This pink area marks the masked area. You can switch back to normal mode, when all of the background has been painted pink; you would see that clear parts of Quick mask have been selected, for any changes that you might like to apply. You can then inverse the selection and press delete to delete the background.

Magnetic Lasso:

The Magnetic Lasso is used for detecting and snapping to the border of the object; it creates points as the cursor is dragged along the object’s outline.

As with Magic Wand, Magnetic lasso is also good for high contrast pictures, and both of them are relatively easier and quicker to use.

Clipping Path:

In clipping path, using the pen tool, the image is cut out from its background. The clipping path gives the highest quality outputs, of all other tools. Irrespective of the image being sharp edged or soft edged, clipping path can give the desired results in high quality. Whether it is image contrast or color halo, with pen tool it is no problem.

Background Eraser Tool:

Background Eraser Tool is much more helpful or useful in blunt edged or rough edged where applying clipping path alone is not possible. For example, we take hair masking. Hair masking is one of the most difficult challenges in the image masking process. One needs to be really well experienced and smart to do it.

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Rokaiya Yeasmin Munni

As manager and head of digital marketing at Clipping Path India, Rokaiya wants to help retailers and photographers use marketing strategies and tactics that will elevate their business. She has an 18-year background in graphic design, content management and digital marketing.

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