Combining Mask Creation Methods

In Photoshop there are two main methods of creating Luminosity Masks. These are through the use of layers and by calculations, both 16-bit. There are several ways that these can be used to create unique methods of making our selections. In ADP LumiFlow we have built most methods of luminosity mask creation into our plugin, giving you the option to choose the method that works best for your needs. These include:

Luminosity With Layers: This method uses layers, with its greatest strength being the ability to use colour to adjust your mask.

Quick Masks: This method uses calculations, and has powerful tools for dodging and burning your mask, allowing fine selections.

Heat Map Zone System: The Heat Map uses the calculations method, and is based on the Ansel Adams Zone System  This allows you to make selection in any or multiple zones, visually and easily.

Subtraction Masks: This uses the calculations method, and allows you to remove areas of tonal ranges to protect them during your edits.

In this tutorial, we show you that you’re not limited to using just one method of mask creation. Instead you are able to use multiple methods, taking advantage of their strengths to create your perfect mask

Combining Mask Creation Methods

In this video tutorial we use the ability of colour in Luminosity With Layers and the dodging & burning power of Quick Masks. By combining these two methods we are able to make a perfect selection of the sky, then allowing us to adjust or replace it.

The tonal values through the sky and foreground of this image are very similar, making isolating areas very difficult. We are also working around the branches of trees, which makes other selection methods in Photoshop difficult, and even presents a problem for luminosity masks. By combing the two methods we are able to keep the finer detail in the branches of the trees, while isolating the sky and foreground.

Luminosity With Layers

One advantage we have in making this selection, is the sky and foreground have distinctly different colours. With the different colours it helps us start our selection by using them to our advantage. We chose an initial lights selection as it allowed us good control of the colours, but it’s not a requirement that you start with this mask. Using the Black & White layer that is created in the layers, we start to adjust the colour sliders to darken the foreground, and lighten the sky in our mask. There are no tricks here, simply slide the sliders to control your selection. The stronger the colours are in your image, the greater the impact when sliding the colour sliders.

At this stage, we’re getting much closer to having our final selection. Now we want to brighten the sky, and clean up the darks in the foreground. We can use the tools in Luminosity With Layers to lighten the sky, but we run into a problem. The finer details throughout the trees will be lost if we push the whites, so we chose to combine mask creation methods.

To allow us to use another method of mask creation, we need to exit out of luminosity with layers. If you simply close it down, you will lose the work you’ve already done. To have the mask available to another method we need to put the mask on a layer, and the easiest method is an adjustment layer. You can choose any of the adjustment layers available, in this tutorial we used curves, but it doesn’t matter.

Luminosity Masks by Calculation (Apply-Adjust-Replace)

Now that we have a mask to work with, we can use the Apply-Adjust-Replace tool in the ADP LumiFlow Plugin to modify the mask. This tool uses the same power of adjustment that we have when working with the calculations method of mask creation. It will allow us to use the dodging and burning tools as well as any of the adjustment tools available in Quick Masks.

Pressing on Apply-Adjust-Replace, and then selecting “Mask View” we can start to work on cleaning up the sky in this image. Selecting the Dodge tool, we can clean up the sky. We take care when we’re working around the leaves and branches on the trees, to ensure that they retain detail. If you push right into them, and dodging at full strength, you will dodge away the finer details. After completing the sky, we take a simple black brush and clean up the foreground. If you have areas that are close to the white area, you may choose to burn the darker areas instead.

Once you’re done modifying your mask in Apply-Adjust-Replace, you can simply exit this panel. All of your adjustments will be retained.

We now have the perfect selection, and we can choose to use it how we like. In this tutorial, we show you the strength of the selection through a curves adjustment. It shows how well the selection was able to work around the difficult tree branches and leaves. Then we replace the sky in the image and use the mask to perfectly blend it in.