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onOne / First Look at Quick Mask in Photo Suite 9

I began playing with a pre-beta release of Perfect Photo Suite 9 this week. And, by the way, there's only 3 days left to pre-order at a steep discount. To sweeten the pot, you get a free eBook (by the ever-pleasing Nicole Young) and 50 presets. If you're purchasing, throw Scott a bone and use my affiliate link

There are many changes in the masking tools. Perfect Mask is collapsed into Perfect Layers – that's good, I'm all for streamlining. Several tools from Suite 7 and Suite 8 are gone, too, such as the keep/drop brushes and the pen tool. I've had concerns about this.

The new kid on the block in PPS9 – Quick Mask. I gave the Quick Mask a test drive today. The executive summary – I'm happy so far (obvious bugs aside!).

The Test

I am using an image that required me to use several of the Suite 8 masking tools. I want to mask away a boring sky in my test image. The challenge area is the horizon line. The color delta between the sky and the ocean at the horizon is subtle.

Anything except the simplest of masks require more than a single pass. I expect to need to use more than just a single swipe of a "magic" brush. I know I'll need the Chisel Tool or the Refine Brush, perhaps the Perfect Brush, to clean up and smooth the edges of the mask. For this test, I'm pitting PPS8's Drop Brush against PPS9's Quick Mask.

Perfect Photo Suite 8 – Drop Brush

I make a basic, lazy swipe through the sky and let the Drop Brush do it's work. For the record, I have tweaked Perfect Mask's module settings to segment the image as "Larger, Slower, More Accurate". In other words, do the best possible job.

Suite 8 - Drop Brush Swipe

Suite 8 - Resulting Mask

Notice the messiness at the horizon line. There's a spattering of areas that didn't get masked in the sky and several spots in the water that did. From here, I'd reach for the pen tool to clean up the horizon line. The pen tool is great when you need to mask a straight edge. To clean up this mask, I'd need to draw at least four polygons, two above the horizon to mask in the missing areas, and two below to keep the ocean. Completely doable. It just takes time.

Perfect Photo Suite 9 - Quick Mask

Now for PPS9's Quick Mask. I make the same basic swipe of the Quick Mask through the sky. There are no module settings for segmenting I can tweak.

Suite 9 - Quick Mask Swipe

Suite 9 - Resulting Mask

Note: The Perfect Photo Suite 9 screen shots are from pre-release software and are subject to change.

Look at that horizon line! No messing around with the pen tool (and a good thing, since it's gone). The edges around the cave are rougher than PPS8. I'm less concerned about that. In either suite, I'd be running the Refine Brush and/or Chisel Tool around the edges of the mask anyway. Overall, I spend less time masking this image in Photo Suite 9 because the horizon line is clean.

There's an obvious bug with the Quick Mask – note the image in the navigator – and I fully expect that will be fixed in the shipping product.