Masking Your Way to Stunning Visuals: Tips and Techniques

Every time you take a photo, you stop in anticipation, thinking about how it will turn out. Unfortunately, the result is not always perfect, so in some cases you have to resort to the help of a photo editor. However, you will need the full range of tools for comprehensive processing. If you only want to make a couple of small adjustments, then masking a photo comes in handy. Today we will tell you what this tool is, what it’s for, and where you can use it to achieve perfect results.

masking a photo

masking a photo

When Do You Need a Masking Image?

When it comes to masking, the first thing to know is the definition of this tool and the situations in which it should be used. Let’s start there to get a good understanding of the question.

So, it is a photo editing technique that involves applying selective adjustments or masks to isolate specific areas of a pic where it is required. The approach may vary depending on the photo editing software used, but the outcome is consistent. It enables non-destructive replacement of the original background, resulting in a distinct and personalized image. For masking a photo you can use many modern applications because most of them have such a feature. Some apps do this quickly thanks to AI. One of them is Luminar Neo from Skylum. It automatically performs many tasks, so for beginners, the work will be as convenient as possible.

Let’s find out when using masking tools would be the best way to improve the picture:

  • When you only need to change a part of a photo. Adjusting product images is a common practice in online business, primarily to accommodate various requirements. For example, there may be instances where modifying the color of the upper garment is necessary, compelling the alteration of the background color to emphasize the garment’s prominence. Employing masking through photo editing apps offers a practical and effective means to manipulate both the background color and the primary subject, enabling the achievement of the desired outcome with ease.
  • When you want to highlight a certain part of the image, or, conversely, to hide it. Masking is an intuitive approach to selectively revealing or hiding specific areas within an image. This powerful technique empowers editors to isolate photographs from their original backgrounds and extract their desired subjects with remarkable ease and efficiency. In addition to its proficiency in photo editing, this technique also enables image cropping by detaching subjects from their original backgrounds, making it a versatile tool for all types of visual editing needs. For this reason, the user should know how to add a photo to a masking layer, and what to do next, because the result is worth it.
  • If you need to make the neatest adjustments possible without destroying the photo. While removing something from a background can pose challenges in traditional editing approaches, masking offers an efficient means to conceal or reveal any area without permanently altering the original. Moreover, using this technique enables the seamless restoration of hidden elements, and the core subject remains unaffected when working with the background. This makes it a powerful tool for achieving optimal results.
  • Creating collages. Collages are always fun, and combining effects will make the picture unique. It’s all worth it to apply the masking technique.

So, we’ve covered the definition and learned what this amazing technique is used for. Now let’s move on to the varieties of masking, so you can quickly find out exactly what you need in this or that situation.

masking a photo

masking a photo

Types of Masking

In most photo editors you can use four types. Here they are:

  • Alpha masks. When it comes to editing, the cutting or removal of backgrounds can be a challenging task, especially when dealing with pics with unique characteristics. However, with the use of alpha masking, this process can be simplified and made more effective. This technique enables editors to apply masking to photos of varying contrasts between the background and the object, streamlining a lot of tasks. Whether dealing with complex or simple images, this technique provides an efficient and effective way of achieving optimal results.
  • Clipping masks. Thanks to it it is possible to work with multiple layers, which provides a range of creative opportunities. Combining layers can significantly enhance the visual appeal of a photo, as editors can effortlessly control the transparency levels of each of them. From creating captivating frames to designing attractive layouts, clipping masking is a versatile tool that enables you to achieve virtually any layout-related task. 
  • Standard layer masking. In Photoshop, one of the most fundamental methods involves using the brush tool to manually paint over the desired areas of your pic. By using black to make elements invisible and white to reveal them completely, you can selectively paint over any part of the photo, effectively isolating its transparency. 
  • Vector masks. When working with text or graphics, this technique provides a distinct advantage when exporting files as PNG or SVG files. By creating precise paths around the desired elements using vector masks, you can achieve optimal visual results while ensuring that the graphics and text maintain a professional look. 

The use of one technique or another will depend entirely on the task you are performing. If in doubt, read the detailed guides on when to use different methods.

masking a photo

masking a photo

To Sum Up

Masking is a great non-destructive method of making your picture better. You can do this in almost any photo editor. We recommend that you try several of them, assess how convenient it is for you, and only then make your final choice. And remember: everything comes with practice and using masking is no exception. Practice and you are sure to succeed!