Light Painting Tips and Techniques: Transforming a Mask

Very often, I find myself using various transformations on masks. This is a faster, more accurate way to reveal certain parts of layers or groups. The almost unlimited number of things we can do to masks includes rotation, scaling, skewing, changing perspective, blurring, dodging and burning, and many more. I can create a quick gradation, for example, then scale and rotate it for the effect I want.

Take a look at this tutorial video to see how it’s done and give it a try yourself!

This is the one of a series of tutorials that I’ve created involving my light painting process, and it is just a quick look at the kind of information that my students learn (although more in depth) at my workshops.

After the video starts, please click on the “gear” icon on the lower right to increase the video resolution for better viewing quality (720 recommended)… especially if you want to watch it full screen.

To see more of my videos on Light Painting technique by click HERE

~ by Harold Ross on May 30, 2013.

7 Responses to “Light Painting Tips and Techniques: Transforming a Mask”

  1. Great video Harold. Only one thing I could suggest in this is to do a bit of work on the original mask (the ‘cutout’ that you made from photographing the silhouette – as the mask is effectively already there!) as there are a few black ‘bits’ on the leaves of the flowers that may be able to be tidied a bit.

    I personally use the ‘refine edge’ tool a lot. I find it invaluable, especially when combined with the history brush tool. Press ‘Tab’ to get rid of all pallettes, then ‘CTRL+ALT+R’ for the refine edge dialog box to come up by itself on the screen. By selecting the bottom left hand option (the ‘marching ants’) then pressing CTRL+H, it will hide the selection, and you can then experiment with different settings in real time.

    *CTRL & ALT on PC – replace CTRL with CMD and ALT with Option for Macs.

    • Hi Marek, thank you for your comment! Yes, the refine edge tool is very handy for refining selections, and I often use it for that. In this case, however, there is no selection, and the mask is “automatically” created by leaving the peonies in silhouette, lighting only the background. What you are seeing in the final are the areas near the edges of the flowers which I chose not to light in my light painted exposure. It is actually the dark, purposely unlit areas from the main exposure. Also, the gaussian blur of the background image contributes to that effect. Thanks!

      • No problems Harold. I wasn’t sure if that was the case or not. Certainly a good job creating the mask by lighting background only. Makes life much easier in post processing!

      • Yes, it sure is easier than creating a perfect selection by hand! The refine edge tool is a terrific thing, though, as you mentioned. Thank you for the specific and beneficial information on it in your first comment!

  2. Your tutorials are so helpful!!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  3. Zen Master Harold,
    As usual, a perfect tutorial, especially for those like me who have watched you do it, but then get home and find that my notes (and memory detail) are anemic and my background efforts dyslexic. Got it now. Many thanks.

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