Remember back when I wrote the post that covered the Magnetic Lasso Tool in Adobe Photoshop? In that post, I talked about how the tool in question sort of “snaps” to the edge of an object. What I mean is that, after you select the Magnetic Lasso Tool and begin tracing an outline, the selection will adhere to that outline, as long as it’s distinct enough. Well, as it turns out, Camera Raw has something similar in its arsenal of tools. In this case, it’s called Auto Mask.
Before you continue on with this post, I want you to read something. I think it would benefit you if you headed back in time a few months and took a look at a post I wrote where I discussed the Adjustment Brush Tool in Adobe Camera Raw. In order to get the most from the tutorial I write below, you need to know how the tool actually works.
If you’ve already read that post or if you’re familiar with the Adjustment Brush, please read on.
Today’s post is simple. I’m merely going to use an example photo to demonstrate how you can make adjustments inside Camera Raw that are more controlled than they’d be without the use of the Auto Masking feature. Everything I show you below can be accomplished without Auto Masking, just as every selection can be made without the use of the Magnetic Lasso Tool in Photoshop. The thing is, if you want to keep your sanity and complete a project within a reasonable amount of time, you may want to take advantage of the tools that make life more pleasurable. This is definitely one of them.
The Adjustment Brush
In this demonstration, I’m going to alter the painted stripes on the road in some way. I’m doing this for no other reason than to show you exactly how the Auto Mask feature works. Please don’t take any of my modifications to heart – they are going to look awfully silly.
The first thing I’m going to do is to select the Adjustment Brush (keyboard shortcut – K) from the top toolbar.
Next, I’m going to head over to the new Adjustment Brush panel that appears at the right side of the application. I’ll click the small menu that’s located directly to the right of the panel title and then select Reset Local Correction Settings. Usually, this panel holds all the settings of the last use and most of the time, those settings aren’t what you want to continue working with. By resetting them, all adjustment sliders become zeroed out.
Now, for demonstration purposes, I’ll push the Exposure slider all the way to the left. Once I do this, anything I touch with the Adjustment Brush will turn very dark. I’ll also add a slight Feather to the brush and size it by using the left [ and right ] bracket keys on my keyboard.
What I’m going to do here is attempt to color in the lines on the road by painting with my adjustment brush. Let’s see how things turn out the traditional way.
Wow. As you can see, I went outside the lines quite a bit. If the area I was trying to paint wasn’t so detailed, I may have gotten away with it. Unfortunately, there are curves, nooks and crannies which made me look like a five year old. I certainly wouldn’t be able to show this to anyone.
For this next demonstration, I’ll turn on the Auto Masking mode. To do this, I’ll scroll all the way to the bottom of the right Adjustment Brush panel and check off the box to the left of the words, Auto Mask.
By the way, I deleted my previous edit.
Now, I’ll do the same thing as I just did above. I’ll try to paint in the lines on road with the Adjustment Brush. Let’s see what happens.
Do you see the difference? As I painted in Auto Mask mode, my paint clung to the inside of the area I was painting. This is why I compared this tool to the Magnetic Lasso Tool in Photoshop. It sort of does the work for you.
When using the Adjustment Brush in Auto Mask mode, it’s important to focus on the crosshairs at the center of the brush. Where the adjustment goes depends on where those crosshairs are. Also, a word of warning – any time you use the Auto Mask mode, there really needs to be some defined edges to work inside of. I experimented in areas with fuzzy edges and the effect was terrible. In the case of the lines of the road I worked with above, Auto Mask was perfect. I can’t think of a better solution.
Making Further Adjustments
As usual, now that I colored an area with the Adjustment Brush, I can go into the associated panel and make any adjustments I’d like. In this case, instead of decreasing exposure, I’ll push the sliders around in a way that I normally would if I were editing a photo.
This is especially helpful if I wanted to isolate and edit a specific area of a photo.
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