What do you recommend/use for masking and extracting image parts (especially to swap/eliminate undesirable backgrounds)?
I have never been too successful with (or just too lazy to fully learn?...) the built-in tools in Photoshop. I am looking for a plugin/standalone utility to extract people and other subjects so I can "plant" them in a preferred background.
So far the two prime candidates that come up are Fluid Mask (I have the full Nik Software suite, and they seem to have teamed up with Vertus) and Re-Mask by Topaz. Is there a critical mass of users that prefer one over the other? Alternatives?
I am looking for the magic 3E's: 1. Easy to learn; 2. Easy to use; 3. Easy to pay...
Masking is always a difficult task - whether you use the tools in Photoshop or a plug-in. Plug-ins designed specifically for this task work well MOST of the time. Yet, I have found that even the best ones sometimes simply require precise and time consuming detail work. I have used onOne Perfect Mask to some degree and with varying success - mostly good results. If you are going to be doing a lot of this sort of work I would also recommend using a good quality graphics tablet/pen system.
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Masking really improved in CS5 and is quite strong in CS6. Most of the trades I've seen have it ranked just as high in capabilities and ease of use as other plug-ins. I'd give it a try first, especially the "refine edges" capability.
I have found Adobe's masking stuff to be pretty hard to use effectively, including their latest efforts in both CS5 and CS6. I finally resorted to trying Topaz ReMask, and I can enthusiastically endorse it. Topaz has some very nice videos on YouTube that explain how to use their stuff, too. I was able to do some composites with ReMask within an hour of getting it installed. I've spent more time just reading the tutorials on CS5, let alone getting anything done.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
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Well, first -- thanks for all your valuable input. It helped steering me in my "quest for a mask" (sounds like something from Monty Python...).
I ended up downloading a demo version (which I plan to make a permanent one) of Topaz ReMask. Took some learning, and although not perfect -- that's what I managed to come up with. I know I lost some hair strands, but I also lost my patience...
Final image also includes some PP with Nik's Viveza and Color Efex Pro. C & C are always welcome!