1. Quickmasking is a very useful tool in Photoshop that lets you select a certain part of an image using the brush and the eraser tool. It is so useful that you probably won’t go back to using any other method to cut out an image ever again. That’s how it was for me anyway. So, lets start by bringing in an existing photograph from your computer.

2. I loaded up a picture of my buddy here (hope he doesn’t mind). Now first thing I do with quickmasking is you want to try to select much of the picture FIRST. This really isn’t necessary but it speeds up your quickmasking process alot faster. So as you can tell, I used the magic wand tool to select a good majority of him already without using quickmasking.

TIP: With the magic wand tool (or any selection tool for that matter), holding down SHIFT and clicking other places will let you select more then one area at a time. You don’t need to select one whole area at once.

3. The quickmasking buttons are located in the toolbar. The left button triggers normal mode, and the right button triggers the quickmasking mode. Quickmasking works under BLACK and WHITE conditions. This means that your FOREGROUND and BACKGROUND color needs to be set to BLACK and WHITE as you see on the image above. (Even though when you enter quickmask mode, your color palette is different from the normal mode and Photoshop will automatically set it to black and white for you).

We will be discussing what happens when you use color instead of black and white later on.

TIP: You can easily hit the “Q” key on the keyboard to switch to quickmasking mode at any time. Hitting “Q” again goes back to normal mode.

4. Now your whole photo should turn PINKish red. Depending on your project, you might want to change the color overlay quickmasking produces. (For instance if you have a photo that has red as a dominent color, the pinkish red overlay may be hard to see). To solve this problem, double click on the quickmasking button to open up the settings for the quickmask. You can choose to invert your selection and masking, color, and the opacity for your quickmask.

5. Now I am going to use the ERASER tool and start erasing the masked area (the reddish area) all over him.

6. Now after you have finished your erase / brush in work in quickmask mode, you are ready to change it to a selection. Hit “Q” again to change it back or hit the LEFT button on the quickmasking palette (in the toolbar).

7. Now all your clear area should turn into a selection. Now you are ready to cut and paste the selection into anything you want. You can also cut that selected area out of the picture, delete it, etc. Sky is the limit now.

Quickmasking: Saving a Selection


8. So lets say you have a very complex shape and you are working on your quickmask. So you are working in great detail and then *BAM* your Photoshop errors or crashes on you. Oh no!! Well there is a way to save your selection. One thing Photoshop doesn’t do is save your quickmask for you, but you can definitely save your selection. After a certain point in your quickmasking session, change back to normal mode then go to SELECT > SAVE SELECTION. The dialog window like the one above should show up. Name your selection on the third text field and then hit OK.


9. The new selection you saved should show up on the CHANNELS palette with your named selection. If you see this, you have successfully saved it. So, you save your .PSD and close it. You can open the document back up later on and go to SELECT > LOAD SELECTION and choose your selection name and your selection should load up the way you had it when you saved it! Very good to do this so you don’t lose your hard work.

Translucency in Quickmask

10. So now the big question. What happens if you quickmask WITHOUT being in black and white color palette mode? As I stated before, the color palette changes when you go from normal to quickmask. You can have green and blue on your normal mode but once you enter quickmask mode, Photoshop will ALWAYS change your color palette to black and white. So what happens if you change your color palette during quickmask mode? Well I am going to use GREY and WHITE. To keep one thing clear, Photoshop will not let you choose a color. It will always be a black and white color process. BUT grey is a shade of BLACK, meaning Photoshop will let you choose GREY. So lets try it.

11. We are going to double click on the quickmasking button again and go to our settings. Since we have GREY chosen as our foreground color, we are going to raise the opacity so we can see the colored area. We are going to change the color indication to SELECTED AREAS. (If you have the opacity to the default of 50%, you will not be able to see the colored area during quickmasking mode that well).

12. Since we changed our SELECTION INDICATOR to SELECTED AREA, we are going to COLOR the area you want to select this time. So as you can see the above image, he is colored in instead the previous method.

13. Now go back to normal mode. We have a selection if you did it right. Now lets try to cut and paste that selection into a new document or another photo.

14. Here is the result. The area you selected should be translucent. And to prove it further, check out my layers palette and take notice that my opacity setting is set at 100% and I did not alter that setting.

7 Responses to “Quickmasking”

  1. macky said:

    hello Synergy how are you? i just wanna ask something if you dont mind. can i have this picture the one that you put in your sample? its hard for me to mask if we dont have the same picture…thaks a lot..more power…

  2. Synergy said:

    sorry cannot provide the photo for that since it includes someone in the picture. i would need to get a model release.

    you can mask any picture. like really.

  3. jerry said:

    GReat tuto’s!

  4. Enamul Hoq said:

    This tutorial is very helpful for me but i think it will be very helpful for all categories beginner

  5. Image Masking Services said:

    Great tutorial, image masking is the great technique to remove the background from an image and we provide this service at http://www.clippingpartnerindia.com/image-masking-services/

  6. Hadait said:

    That is a Nice piece of work.
    Sometimes we need to work quickly.
    We also provide this service

  7. atreo jony said:

    Your post is helpful for me cause i want to be a masking expert..So thanks for your inspiration post……

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