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In the past I have struggled for hours trying to do an okay job of what this product will do in minutes, perhaps seconds once you get the hang of it.

Software Review: Fluid Mask 2.0 Photoshop Plug-in – From Vertus

Have you ever wanted to extract something from a photo, either to add it to another photo or to change the background? Have you spent hours trying to use one of the lasso tools in Adobe Photoshop only to quit in frustration because of all the complex curves? You do not have to feel frustrated any longer.

Fluid Mask 2.0 is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop versions 7.0 through CS2; version 3.0 is in public beta and will be available for version CS2 and CS3. There are versions for Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh. Fluid Mask 2.0 also works with Photoshop Elements, but you will need to pay attention as the installation is different in that case.

Fluid Mask 2.0 is a set of advanced paint tools that cut out highly complex images with absolute precision. This is what Vertus' claims, and this is exactly what it does. Not only that, but it does it with remarkable ease and absolutely no pain! For many of your cut-out needs, you just paint the area in that you don't want in wide brush strokes, and push a button and it's gone. If you need to be more selective, you work similar to painting by numbers to select the areas and then still push the button and its gone.

Fluid Mask 2.0 works best with RAW files; next best is PNG's. While it works with JPG's, their use should be avoided if possible as they are too lossy and they don't have all of the information to do the best job.

One thing to note is that you do need plenty of memory to work with Fluid Mask 2.0. Depending on the image, it can use five times the size of the loaded image because of techniques used to parse your image into the individual objects.

As you can see from the animation below just how easy it is to take one picture and cut out pieces and insert others to create the image that you want. This is great for manipulating stock photos to get just the shot you need.

Buy Fluid Mask
Vertus: Fluid Mask cut-out tool

There are certain images that cannot be used with Fluid Mask 2.0. One such image is an 8-bit per channel image. While 8-bit images worked within version 1.0, Fluid Mask 2.0 requires 16-bit images. If you have an inappropriate image loaded the menu option will appear as grayed out. The image detail needs to also be in RGB or CMYK mode, so, to use the plug-in you may need to do some additional conversion.

The regular price of Fluid Mask 2.0 is $199 USD. On July 2, 2007, it goes up to $239 USD. Between now and then, if you buy version 2.0, you will get a free upgrade version 3.0 when it is released. You can also play with a 30 day trial version as well. They have a full set of tutorials on their website as well as technical support, a Vertus community forum as well as free daily on-line training five days a week!

In the past I have struggled for hours trying to do an okay job of what this product will do in minutes, perhaps seconds once you get the hang of it. In my opinion, if you regularly create cut-out images, Fluid Mask 2.0 is a must have. Period!

About T. Michael Testi

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

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