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Mask Pro 4.1 will be a welcomed addition to your imaging toolbox.

Software Review – Adobe Photoshop Plug-in Plug-In Suite 3: Mask Pro 4.1 From onOne

This is the third of a four part review of the products that are included in the onOne Plug-In Suite 3. Parts One and Two are available here on Blogcritics. This review is on the product Mask Pro 4.1

Mask Pro 4.1 is the latest version of the plug-in from onOne Software that makes it easy to mask and cut objects out of an image. This can be done for placement in another image or to replace the background in the original image.

Mask Pro 4.1 requires you to have Windows running XP SP2 or Vista or Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later. You will need Photoshop CS2 (v9.0.2), CS3, or Photoshop Elements 4 or later. Also you must have at least 512MB of RAM and 60 MB of hard-disk space. Installation is very easy and is all automatic.

So what is masking? Masking is the process of selecting and erasing parts of an image. Normally you select the parts of the image that you want to keep and erase the areas that you want to drop. You can use the selection tool in Photoshop, but to get it right it can take a lot of time and effort especially if you don't want a halo effect or other problems,. Mask Pro 4.1 makes this process much easier and can save you a lot of time.

Mask Pro 4.1 operates as a plug-in, inside Photoshop or Elements. It resides in the Filters menu or the onOne menu. There are a number of views from within Mask Pro and all help you make sure that you are getting the best image possible.

There is Original view which maintains the original image for review, Solid view which displays the erased area as a solid color. Single Layer view displays the erased area as a grid, Quick Mask view displays dropped areas as a rubylith mask overlay, Mask view displays the mask's alpha channel as 100% erased in Black and 100% kept in white, Cleanup view displays 100% kept in white, 100% dropped in black and transition areas in gray; this is good for making sure there are no holes in your mask, and Composite view show you the underlying layer.

Image Courtesy onOneMask Pro 4.1 also provides individual and composite channel views for CMYK, RGB or Lab depending on the image type. There is fast masking for well defined images, detailed masking for more difficult images and methods for masking transparent and semitransparent objects

What is the bottom line on Mask Pro 4.1? It is as simple or complex as you need it to be. For very simple images, such as the one above, it takes almost nothing to use. As your selections become more complex, there are tools that get you the masking that you need.

What I especially like are the different views so that you can make sure that you are really getting the cuts you expect. I like some of the simple things like the ability to change your brush stroke by using the scroll wheel of your mouse. I also like the ability to make transparent selections of things like bubbles and glass.

Add to that, there is a comprehensive PDF users manual that explains everything you need to know, but there is also one and one-half hours of on-line training from Lynda.com via a seven day free pass. The down side is that you only have seven days to master the training; the upside is that during those seven days, you also get to try any of the other video training sessions as well and if you have read any of my reviews of their training, this is a very good thing.

Keep in mind that if you expect this or any masking program to do a perfect job on any image every time, it won't, nor will any other program. If you want one that comes close to doing it, then Mask Pro 4.1 won't disappoint. Mask Pro 4.1 will be a welcomed addition to your imaging toolbox.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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