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From the author of Defining Working Colors with the Eyedropper Tools

Defining Working Colors with the Eyedropper Tools

Once you have zoomed in a bit and panned the image so the correct portion of the photo is visible (do this using standard Photoshop zoom shortcuts and Hand Tool shortcuts), the first Perfect Mask steps are to define the colors that you want to identify as “keepers” (i.e., things not to be masked), and to identify “drop colors” (things that should be masked/removed). To do this, we can use the two Eyedropper tools I just mentioned and the Color panel.

First, select the Drop Color Eyedropper, and then set the Sample Size from the inspector. Note that onOne’s color sampling works differently than Photoshop’s color sampling: A value of 5 (which is what I typically try first) is not a 5-pixel sample, but rather a sample brush that is 5 pixels in diameter. Additionally, make sure the Sample Continuously option on the Inspector is active so that you can click multiple areas as you move across the mask region. The key is to zoom in between 50 and 100% if you can, and keep the sample size relatively small, to get the most accurate color sampling. The more you zoom in and target precise spots, the more accurate the mask, ultimately.

As you click once on each color that represents what you need removed, a swatch will be added under the Drop area in the Color panel (Figure 6). Here I selected three different shades of blue in the sky and three shades of gray/white in the clouds.

Figure 6 Use the Drop Color Eyedropper, sample size, and Color panel to accurately identify the range of colors you wish to mask.

Usually, between 4-8 colors works well on each quadrant of the photo you want to mask. If you use more than that, it may slow things down when processing the mask. If you need to define different colors for different areas of the photo, you can accomplish this using additional “Color Sets.” This also keeps the numbers of colors per set in a good range to aid performance.

At the bottom of the Color panel, click Add and then choose whether you wish to create a new Keep Color set or a new Drop Color set (or both); tabs will appear in the panel that separate the new set(s) from the prior one(s) you created (Figure 7). To remove an individual color or color set from the panel, simply click on it and then click the Delete button.

Figure 7 Using Color Sets helps to manage the Keep and Drop color selections in complex images by separating colors based on image region.

Once you have defined your Drop colors, select Keep Color Eyedropper, and follow the same process you used for selecting your Drop colors. Here I find it useful to identify the primary colors located along the boundary of the subject, and use those as the basis for your protected area (Figure 8).

Figure 8 Define your Keep colors to ensure subject areas that contain them are not masked away by the Magic Brush.

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