EZ Mask – How to make digital compositing fun
When you wish the background in your picture was different, you’ve got two choices. A) Go back and reshoot it or B) Use EZ Mask from Digital Film Tools. If you want an exotic background, like maybe Fiji, you’ll find EZ Mask to be much cheaper & faster, albeit maybe not as much fun.
EZ Mask is one of those software packages that I love. It’s meant to do one thing and it’s easy to learn. It doesn’t offer sixty tools you’ll probably never use, like Photoshop – rather, you get just enough to get the job done.
The latest version I tested works as a plugin to Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom, as long as they are all installed on the same computer. Multiple licenses will be needed for multiple machines.
I’ve used EZ Mask before in DFX 4.0, but in that software, you aren’t able to use your own backgrounds. With this package, you can use it to create white backgrounds for your images right in Lightroom, without ever leaving, or you can send it directly into Photoshop, where you can merge it any other layers (backgrounds or foregrounds) you like.
How simple is it?
Better to see than talk about it. I needed to cut out this car and place it in front of this covered bridge.
In Lightroom, I entered Photo > Edit In > EZ Mask, then selected “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments.” From the EZ Mask interface, it was really then a simple matter of A, B, C.
Using the top marker tool, (A) just draw green strokes around the element you want to retain, keeping relatively close to the edge, but not right at the edge. In this case I wanted to get the car and its shadow, so I drew over both of them.
Then select the next marker tool (B) and draw red lines over the background areas you want to remove. Again, you aren’t being real specific here, just close to the edges and covering the various elements you want to remove.
Finally, select the Process button ( C ) or just hit “Enter” and viola, you now have your object separated from the background.
I then selected this image and my background bridge photo, and from Lightroom’s menu, I selected Photo > Edit in > Open as Layers in Photoshop. In Photoshop I merely had to adjust the position of the two photos and save my new composite. Simple as that. Here’s my result.
As good as that was for less than 90 seconds worth of work, the windows bothered me. Sooooo..it was just a matter of enlarging the workspace and adding some red “background” strokes in the window areas:
Which produced “see through” windows and a bit more realistic image.
EZ Mask’s real strength is with fine hair detail and semi-transparent things like smoke. Check out this video for some amazing results.
One caution, I discovered that PNG images can give EZ Mask some problems, so convert them to JPEG’s before using EZ Mask.
Disclaimer: Tiffen provided me with a copy of EZ Mask to do this review.