Vector Masking Sharp Edges and Curves

When you want to mask an object made up of sharply defined straight edges, graceful curves, or both, you create a sharp vector outline using a vector mask. Vector masks are essentially the same as layer masks with one crucial difference: the mask is made with vectors instead of pixels.

Figure 4.53. The guitar and a brown texture (examples A and B), soon to be combined.


Open the Guitar and Brown Texture images.


Make a pen path selection around the guitar, then click Add Layer Mask twicethe first time gives you an empty layer mask, the second click converts your path to a vector mask. Alternately, choose Layer > Vector Mask > Reveal All.

Figure 4.54. The guitar with vector mask.

Vector masks have hard, crisp edgesbecause they do not support transparency, you cannot feather their edges. Where vector masks have the edge (get it?) on layer masks is the degree of flexibility they offer when adjusting the mask: as you precisely adjust the pen path shape you can see instantly how this affects the image. For this reason, if you are comfortable working with the Pen tool, you might consider using vector masks as a stepping stone to a good layer mask. While there may be no substitute for the feathered edge of a layer mask, making the initial selection as a vector mask and then converting it to a layer mask is an efficient way of getting there.


To make any potential problems more visible, create a new layer beneath your subject layer and fill it with a bright color. Once you've tweaked the mask you can throw this layer away.

Figure 4.55. Fine-tuning the vector mask.


To convert a vector mask to a layer mask, choose Layer > Rasterize > Vector Mask.


When you are satisfied with the mask, drag the layer thumbnail of the guitar onto the texture image, and scale and rotate as necessary.

Figure 4.56. The finished composition, the guitar cutout with a vector mask.

Adobe PhotoShop Unmasked. The Art and Science of Selections, Layers, and Paths
Adobe Photoshop Unmasked: The Art and Science of Selections, Layers, and Paths
ISBN: 0321441206
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 93
Authors: Nigel French

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