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Masking with Difference masking: Easy!

Foto von Dazzle Jam von Pexels

When to use this masking method

There are many options for masking objects and models in Adobe Photoshop. If the current methods fail, you have to resort to unknown and creative ways to help yourself.

This method is also suitable for more complex objects and hair. The background should be as solid as possible (not white, grey, or black).

Method – Step by Step Guide

  1. Use the Eyedropper (I) tool to sample a larger area of the background (minimum of 5×5 px average).
  2. Create a solid color fill layer with the sampled color OR choose Edit>Fill…>Contents Use: Foreground Color with an empty layer (both options will work)
  3. Use blending mode Difference: Looks at the color information in each channel and subtracts either the blend color from the base color or the base color from the blend color, depending on which has the greater brightness value.
  4. The sampled color area should be now almost or entirely black. You can also add another help layer to enhance the results.
  5. Now go to the channels and check whether the red, green, or blue channel is suitable for a selection (or all together; use the same method as with paths).
  6. Either you can already use the selection and apply it to your image, OR you can duplicate the channel of your choice and edit it with the Dodge or Burn Tools, with the Brush or other tools of your choice (e.g. cmd + M (gradation curve) & cmd + L (tonal correction) until it is suitable for your selection mask.
  7. Final checks, delete the Difference layer & the new channel.
  8. Done!

Do you have any suggestions, additions, is this post out of date, or have you found any mistakes? Then we look forward to your comment.
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Mareike Keicher

Mareike Keicher, founder of MK Retouching and senior retoucher with several years of experience in postproduction. From an early age, she always has had an eye for details and a talent for drawing. Later, she studied Informationdesign at the Media University of Stuttgart, focusing on digital painting, photography, and design. After her advertising agencies' experience, she really enjoyed the exchange with numerous retouchers & photographers.

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