Project Description

This video shows you how to apply selective adjustments to specific areas of your image to enhance details, draw attention to your subject, etc.

Photo: Dustin Abbott


Masking in Snap Art allows you to fine tune the effect just where you want it--such as the placement or size of brush strokes, the paint thickness, and more. Essentially, you can play-up or play-down different areas of your image to your liking. If you’re working on a portrait for example, you’d want the face and eyes to be the focus of the shot--you wouldn’t want to put the same emphasis on the background. In this image from Dustin Abbott, I want the focus to be on the barn, so I’ll use masking to add detail and draw you into the shot.

As a first step inside of Snap Art, I’ll choose a preset in the pane on the left. I’ll choose a look that I think will work with the image--for this, i’ll go with Oil Paint. Now I’ll close the left pane with the arrow button on the edge of the screen. This gives me a little more screen real estate to work with.

If you want to customize the look, use the controls in the Background panel. These parameters change the overall media behavior for the shot. I’ll make a couple of tweaks--let’s decrease the Photorealism slider and increase the Stroke Length. This will break up the image and make the paint strokes look more hand made.

Just below, I’ll open the Detail Masking panel, click New Area, and choose the adjustment I want to make from the dropdown list. Before we do any masking, take a look at the slider values. These values illustrate the relationship to the the same parameters on the background panel. For example, if you decrease one of the sliders here, it will display a negative number; which means it is subtracting from the value you set on the background panel.

Let’s scroll down to the Mask Tool pickbox. This is where you adjust the masking brush such as the size and the feathering amount. You can adjust the size of the mask tool, on the fly, with the bracket keys, just like in Photoshop. Once you make a mask, a small pin will appear on the image in the preview. You can display the mask by hovering your cursor over the pin. Don’t worry about making overly intricate masks. If you mask too aggressively, press the minus button, or press E on your keyboard, to refine the mask.

Now that I’ve created the mask, I’ll dial in the settings. I don’t think the amount of Photorealism blends in with the background settings, so I’ll decrease the amount. I’ll also decrease the stroke length, and give the masked area more brush strokes and energy.

Notice the mask pin? You can only make adjustments to the selected mask--the one that’s black. If a pin is grey, it’s not selected. I’ll make another quick mask to demonstrate. Now, I can click on the original mask if I’d like to make adjustments. I’m going to remove the second mask with the delete area button.

One last point on detail masking in Snap Art, you can make up to three mask layers in Snap Art 4, so plan your effects accordingly.

You can save the entire look with ⌘+S/Ctrl+S or the plus button at the top of the left-hand pane. Saving a custom preset this way will record the entire effect including any masks that you’ve made. I strongly recommend saving your settings, because you don’t want to have to remake them over and over.

Once you save customized presets, they’re easy to find. All you need to do is press the user button on the presets pane. If you’d like to make adjustments to your user presets library, right click on your preset for more options such as delete, edit, and export.