How the quick mask mode works

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Typically, you'll at least want to rough out a selection with the standard selection tools before entering the quick mask mode. Then you can concentrate on refining and modifying your selection inside the quick mask, rather than having to create the selection from scratch. (Naturally, this is only a rule of thumb. I violate the rule several times throughout this chapter, but only because the quick mask mode and I are such tight friends.)

To enter the quick mask mode, click the quick mask mode icon in the toolbox, as I've done in Figure 9-7. Or press Q. When I pressed Q after wreaking my most recent havoc on the extinct antelope skull, I got the image shown in Figure 9-7. The skull receives the mask because it is not selected. (In Figure 9-7, the mask appears as a light gray coating; on your color screen, the mask appears in red.) The area outside the skull looks the same as it always did because it's selected and, therefore, not masked.

Notice that the selection outline disappears when you enter the quick mask mode. This happens because the outline temporarily ceases to exist. Any operations you apply affect the mask itself and leave the underlying image untouched. When you click the marching ants mode icon (to the left of the quick mask mode icon) or press Q, Photoshop converts the mask back into a selection outline and again enables you to edit the image.

If you click the quick mask mode icon and nothing changes on screen, your computer isn't broken; you simply didn't select anything before you entered quick mask mode. When nothing is selected, Photoshop makes the whole image open for editing. In other words, everything's selected. (Only a smattering of commands under the Edit, Layer, and Select menus require something to be selected before they work.) If everything is selected, the mask is white; therefore, the quick mask overlay is transparent and you don't see any difference on screen. This is another reason why it's better to select something before you enter the quick mask mode — you get an immediate sense you're accomplishing something.

Quick mask icon

Figure 9-7: Click the quick mask mode icon (highlighted in the toolbox) to instruct Photoshop to express the selection temporarily as a grayscale image.

Quick mask icon

Figure 9-7: Click the quick mask mode icon (highlighted in the toolbox) to instruct Photoshop to express the selection temporarily as a grayscale image.

Also, Photoshop enables you to specify whether you want the red mask coating to cover selected areas or deselected areas. For information on how to change this setting, see "Changing the red coating," later in this chapter.

In quick mask mode, you can edit the mask in the following ways:

♦ Subtracting from a selection: Paint with black to add red coating and, thus, deselect areas of the image, as demonstrated in the top half of Figure 9-8. This means you can selectively protect portions of your image by merely painting over them.

♦ Adding to a selection: Paint with white to remove red coating and, thus, add to the selection outline. You can use the eraser tool to whittle away at the masked area (assuming the background color is set to white). Or you can swap the foreground and background colors so you can paint in white with one of the painting tools.

Figure 9-8: After subtracting some of the selected area inside the eye socket by painting in black with the paintbrush tool (top), I feathered the outline by painting with white, using a soft 45-pixel brush shape (bottom).

* Adding feathered selections: If you paint with a shade of gray, you add feathered selections. You also can feather an outline by painting with black or white with a soft brush shape, as shown in the bottom image in Figure 9-8.

* Clone selection outlines: If you have a selection outline that you want to repeat in several locations throughout the image, the quick mask is your friend. Select the transparent area with one of the standard selection tools and Ctrl+Alt-drag it to a new location in the image, as shown in Figure 9-9. Although I use the lasso tool in the figure, the magic wand tool also works well for this purpose. To select an antialiased selection outline with the wand tool, set the Tolerance value to about 10 and be sure the Anti-aliased check box is active. Then click inside the selection. It's that easy.

Figure 9-9: To clone the eye socket selection, I lassoed around it (top) and Ctrl+Alt-dragged it (bottom).

♦ Transform selection outlines: You can scale or rotate a selection independently of the image, just as you can with the Transform Selection command (covered in Chapter 8). Enter the quick mask mode, select the mask using one of the standard selection tools, and choose Edit ^ Free Transform or press Ctrl+T. (See Chapter 12 for more information on Free Transform and related commands.)

These are only a few of the unique effects you can achieve by editing a selection in the quick mask mode. Others involve tools and capabilities I haven't yet discussed, such as filters and color corrections.

When you finish editing your selection outlines, click the marching ants mode icon (to the left of the quick mask mode icon) or press Q again to return to the marching ants mode. Your selection outlines again appear flanked by marching ants, and all tools and commands return to their normal image-editing functions. Figure 9-10 shows the results of switching to the marching ants mode and deleting the contents of the selection outlines created in the last examples of the previous two figures.

Figure 9-10: The results of deleting the regions selected in the bottom examples of Figures 9-8 (top) and 9-9 (bottom). Kind of makes me want to rent It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I mean, who wouldn't give this antelope a rock?

Tip As demonstrated in the top example of Figure 9 10, the quick mask mode offers a splendid environment for feathering one selection outline, while leaving another hard edged or antialiased. Granted, because most selection tools offer built in feath ering options, you can accomplish this task without resorting to the quick mask mode. But the quick mask mode enables you to change feathering selectively after drawing selection outlines, something you can't accomplish with Select ^ Feather. The quick mask mode also enables you to see exactly what you're doing. Kind of makes those marching ants look piddly and insignificant, huh?

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