Create a "Hybrid" layer mask

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Create a "Hybrid" layer mask

Post by photoken »

A very useful feature in PL is the ability to create "hybrid" layer masks -- that is, a combination of a raster image and a vector graphic to separate an object from its background.

The advantage is that you can work with the appropriate tools on the relevant areas of the layer mask to create a perfect layer mask. Here's what I mean....

I'm using this image (cropped) that's in the public domain under the CC0 license:
woman 01 original.jpg
You can download it from here: ... ait-24806/

The woman's head and hair demands the use of a soft-edged brush to paint the soft edges of the mask; but the rest of her torso has an edge that is distinct and lends itself perfectly to using the Vector Lasso tool.

So, these are the steps I used on this image:
  1. I used the Quick Selection tool to define just the area around her head and hair.
  2. Then I used the Border Matting tool to refine the selection and separate the head and hair (against a transparent background) onto its own layer.
  3. Use Tool...Mask...Create from Alpha to create a raster image mask of the head and hair.
  4. In the Layers panel, drag that image mask onto the background image as a child layer.
  5. Delete the no-longer needed head and hair layer. It's served its purpose well....
  6. With the background image as the active layer, use the Vector Lasso tool to create the vector lasso for the torso, making sure there's an overlap with the head area.
  7. Click on the "Convert to Clipping Layer" icon in the settings panel for the Vector Lasso tool to create a clipping layer.
  8. Drag that clipping layer to become a child layer of the original background layer.
  9. Select both the vector clipping layer and the image mask and group the marked layers. This should automatically create a layer mask group consisting of the image layer and the vector layer. If things don't work, make sure that the layer properties of the image layer and the vector layer are only "Show", and the layer properties of their parent group are "Clip" and "Layer Mask". It's important that the order of the layers is as shown.
The layers look like this:
woman 01 layers.jpg
And the result:
woman 01 final.jpg
Because the mask for the head area is an image mask, I was able to hand-paint in the strands of hair on the left, using a soft-edged brush. I then painted over that handdrawn area with a Gaussian Blur brush to further soften the edges.

Because the mask for the torso area is a vector clipping layer, it's very quick and easy to refine the masking along the long curves of her arms and the intricate details of her dress by using the Edit Vector Points tool to move points of the clipping layer.

The important thing is that you can use the most appropriate tool to modify specific areas of the layer mask.

Hope this proves useful!
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Yes, I think it can be eeeeeasily done....
Just take everything out on Highway 61.