Anything Photoshop or Photography

TOPAZ MASK AI

Image of a Summatran Tiger at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC
This week Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) unleashed their newest in their lineup of AI products by updating the old Topaz ReMask to Topaz Mask AI. I stand corrected – this is not a free update for past owners – not sure why since the product is very similar to the original – apparently they are giving past owners a discount. Update: There is a new update out, Version 1.0.2 – if your software does not indicate there is an update, go to the site and download the latest version.

So the Sumatran Tiger (from the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington, DC) above was my first attempt using the program – I used it as a plugin in Photoshop, which is how I have always used it. It is also a stand alone program where the selections can be saved as a Transparent PNG file. My first impression is that it is not that different from ReMask 5 so if you have used it in the past, the plugin will be familiar to you. The AI capability does appear to create a better initial selection, but there usually is still some clean up brushing required using a small sized Green brush (for keeping an area), Red brush (for removing an area), and Blue brush (for recalculating the area to match). BTW, keyboard shortcuts for the Blue Brush is Q, Green is W and Red E – this makes it really quick to switch between the brushes, especially when doing clean up on the selection. The brush size can be increased or decreased using the bracket keys as in PS. It takes a little longer for the computing to occur since it is AI technology.

Below is the interface after the Auto (Detect Objects button) and Compute buttons were pressed and showing the 4 previews at once. This is my favorite way to clean up the image since corrections can be painted in any of the views if something does not look right. See how good the blue outline looks and it created a really overall smooth selection. I think it creates a better result than PS’s Quick Selection Tool with the Select Subject used.

Screenshot of Topaz Mask AI

SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF TOPAZ MASK AI ARE:

1. One of the best new features is the Auto Button which automatically creates a selection as shown above. What I will say is that I got much better results using the Auto button than by my brushing in my own blue outline around the tiger. So keep that in mind, use Auto first if possible. If it cannot find a subject, nothing happens.

2. Choose between AI or Contrast buttons. Topaz says use AI for complex masking issues such as trees, fur or lots of details. Use Contrast for skylines, horizon lines, cars, and macro flower petals (according to Topaz). I have not tried out the Contrast button yet, but the AI worked great on the tutorial they have embedded in the program to help you learn the software.

3. If you create your own outline, be sure to add a touch of red or green in areas you don’t want or do want. It helps the AI technology figure out what you want to keep. Not sure it helped me that much, but I am still new to the update so I may not be using it correctly.

4. What do all those Edge sliders do?

  • Edge Shift – shifts mask edge – I find this one major handy as it gets rid of some of the rough edges.
  • Edge Softness – add sharpening to sharp edges and softens edges as in a portrait.
  • Foreground Recovery – revives the color of foreground in weaker or more transparent areas – good for fur, whiskers, or wispy hair.
  • Defringe – to help reduce halos on edges.

5. Background Options: When I am doing edge corrections with a very small brush, I usually add a really bright solid color background color so the problem areas can be seen well. Have always done this and it helps a lot. The Blur options blurs the background for you – gives you a slider to do this. I have never used this option, but it might come in handy to see what is really being selected. Apparently an image can be placed into the selection and there are several options to adjust the selection’s exposure, contrast, etc. I have never used this before either.

One thing the Help Manual does not tell you is that once you have added the blue lines, use the Fill bucket to add green to the keep areas and red for areas to remove. That way you do not have to paint it out.

Also, it does not have, when used as a PS plug, the ability to “Enable Use Layer Mask” in the Preferences that was available with ReMask 5. Instead, need to add a layer mask to a duplicate layer before going into Mask AI – it will now load the selection into a PS layer mask upon applying. This is so helpful.

Well I hope you load it up and try it out. I trust that Topaz is still working with the program and are doing updates as the AI feature gets better – that seems to be the trend for their AI software. In the meantime, I will practice with the program and try and get a Video out there on some tips to make this process easy. And don’t forget that Topaz has a great Help program, so if you are having issues with Mask AI, let them know. Have a great week and Happy Halloween!……Digital Lady Syd

10 responses

  1. Jesse Contreras

    As a previous owner, I did not receive a free update. Instead, I received an additional $20 off. I thought it kind of sucked that I had to pay.

    10/28/2019 at 12:45 am

    • Jesse – you are right. I am totally surprised. I apologize for giving out the wrong info.

      10/28/2019 at 8:45 am

  2. Jack Torcello

    Sorry but this time the upgrade in not free, big policy change at Topazlabs!@

    10/28/2019 at 3:26 am

    • No kidding about that! I did not actually put the product into my cart so I see now it was just a discount. Not sure why Topaz did this but appreciate the heads up.

      10/28/2019 at 8:46 am

  3. Ann Mackay

    Lots of interesting info here – might be something I’ll go for in the future. I love the regal air of the tiger and your brush-strokes in the sky!

    10/28/2019 at 7:06 am

    • Thanks Ann. The sky was a texture I created in Corel Painter that was used to replace the zoo background.

      10/28/2019 at 12:31 pm

  4. Masking is always hard to get one hundred percent, but it looks like Topaz Mask AI is a good tool for exactly that.

    10/30/2019 at 6:07 am

    • I find masking can be one of the hardest things to get right without actually painting in the mask. Mask AI is making strides towards getting this right.

      10/30/2019 at 10:56 pm

  5. Jack Torcello

    The Topaz Community is not impressed that Topazlabs has reneged on free-for-life!!!

    10/31/2019 at 5:57 am

    • I get it – obviously I misunderstood how they were going to market the product when I wrote the blog.

      10/31/2019 at 10:36 am

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