Exposure’s 3D color masking controls easily define detailed selections with minimal effort. Check out this video for a demonstration in creating and editing layer masks. We’ll show you the essentials for targeting specific regions in the image with the mask using the color constraint controls.
Photo: Craig MacPhee
How to target colors
The color constraints presets are useful for common masking situations. They can be used for selecting various skin tones, or skies, or brightness ranges. After selecting a preset, the mask parameters can be refined by hand for more control. You can also save your own presets to this list.
Once a mask is defined, adjustments on that layer are restricted by the mask. The masking and layering system allows for application and control of multiple effects on a single image. Learn more about using the system in our Working with Layers video.
When defining individual mask, there are several built-in range presets that are accessible from the 4-lines icon on the left of the panel. These presets quickly get you in the ballpark of the selection you’re after. They can be refined for this image in particular, easily.
Using the eyedroppers
When editing masks, the show mask toggle is useful. When enabled, the mask will display a red overlay as you make adjustments. A helpful keyboard shortcut to display the mask is M.
Simply click the eyedropper and select a sample in the image. Use this tool to define a luminance, saturation, or hue range. Repeat the process to reselect using a different sample. To add other colors with the eyedropper, hold the Shift key. With each click, the range is expanded to include more selected values.
Refining the sliders
To refine the selection made with the eyedropper, use the slider handles. The top handles on the sliders indicate the edge of the full value. The bottom handles control the feathering between the inner edge and the unmasked area. The further the inner and outer handles are apart, the more gradual the edge of the mask will be.
The Hue wheel behaves the same as the other sliders. The inner values denote the fully saturated tones. The outer values control the gradual blend. Hold Shift while dragging the bottom handles to apply the same feathering amount on the other side. Hold Shift while dragging the top handle to move them all together. Double-click to reset slider values to default.
Precise slider adjustments
Click the text field to enter a range value manually. You can use the up and down arrow keys to nudge the selected value. For a larger jump, use Shift and an arrow key. For a small jump, use Alt/Option and an arrow.
These controls make creating detailed masks simple and quick. Masks control the adjustments you make to specific areas of an image. Once defined, the mask can be saved as a preset and reused on other images. Check out our 3D Color Masking video for a demonstration of that process. Masking presets drastically speed up your editing and retouching workflow.