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Topaz Mask AI

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Topaz Mask AI Review

Topaz ReMask gets smarter


Creating cut-outs and image masking can be a tricky and fiddly job, especially if the item to be cut out has lots of fine edge detail.

A while ago we looked at Topaz remask and found it a helpful tool for things like skylines and trees. There is now a new package called Mask AI which uses machine learning and the power of your graphics card to offer better performance.

Keith has had a quick look at Topaz Mask AI.

There is a free 30 day demo of the software available

Mask AI is normally $99.99, but is priced at $69.99 until November the 8th

Buying via our links earns us a small fee (it costs you no more). Neither Keith Cooper nor Northlight Images has any other connection with Topaz labs whatsoever. We believe strongly in making any affiliate links like this clear.
Use our 15% discount code ‘Northlight’ for an additional discount on some promotions.

Image masking

As a photographer, I prefer to get thing right in the camera, but I know that many of our product images will be be cut out for web or catalogue use. If I’m honest, it’s something I prefer not to do. One cutout is a challenge – 200 is a mighty tedious task. However, sometimes I do need to do some compositing and the basic Photoshop tools can be found wanting.

Topaz have had a software package called ReMask for some time. This has helped me out quite a few times in the past, so I was interested to see the new ‘AI’ version. The software can work as a standalone application, or within Photoshop or Topaz Studio.

Topaz Mask AI

There are some helpful resources available covering usage of Mask AI, even as you start it up. See the product info page and the more detailed Mask AI User Guide for more.

If you’re familiar with ReMask then all the functionality is there, but do take time to familiarise yourself with the Mask AI interface since it has a number of refinements. The old detection modes are still there if you have a workflow that works well for particular types of images.
[click on images to enlarge]

mask-tutorial

I’ll just show a simple example here, since you really do need to experiment with the sorts of image you want to cut out.

Ice cream cut-out

I’ll use a photo taken on a recent trip to Amble, where I want to use my ice cream, but without Karen enjoying hers in the background.

I’ve opened the image in Photoshop and duplicated the image layer (I need to work on a layer, not the background). The image opens showing the red ‘cut’ fill.

tricky-cutout

The essence of the colour coding is:

  • Red=Cut
  • Green=Keep
  • Blue= calculate the edge here

So, I start by drawing in place my boundary (blue).

outline-area

Next I fill the centre with keep (green) and draw in a few specific ‘keep’ areas.

add-keeping-areas

That’s all I need to have an initial go at generating a mask. For a crisp skyline, this might be all I need, but this object has quite a variety of softer edges.

Here’s the first go…

initial-cutout

Zooming in I can see some areas need attention.

fine-detail

Adding in a few fine green/red masking patches, quickly refines the selection.

Here we can see the mask (B&W), the selection and the inverse of the selection.

finished-masks

So, I’ve a cut out ice cream sundae.

I can use this as I see fit…

Dropping it into this photo (from my i1Display Pro Plus review) I’ve flipped it left-right to match the lighting.

Problems with masking…

I’ve shown this example since it’s ‘not quite right’. Whilst I’ve flipped it to match the lighting, there is the slight problem that the original was taken with a 15mm lens and the background a 50mm. That means the perspective will be somewhat mismatched. I’ve reduced the contrast/brightness of the ice cream layer a bit to better match the background, but there are still issues such as the edges and that illy paper under the glass.

What I’m really saying is that (from my POV) if you are going to be using masking to replace skies and the like, be careful to make sure the sky is ‘plausible’ – If I can see the effect’s been done then it’s likely wrong. However I’d note the enduring persistence of ‘HDR’ and assorted ‘overprocessed’ photo looks show that lack of taste need not be the impediment some might think… YMMV ;-)

There are many refinement options in Mask AI which it is worth experimenting with. See also my ReMask 4 and ReMask 5 reviews for more examples and discussion – the ReMask 5 review has quite a bit more about sky replacement.

Thoughts…

I don’t do masking regularly enough to accurately compare the improvements with the previous software, but the whole package feels snappier to use, and better with handling fine detail with less need to refine selections.

Worth a go with the 30 Day demo if you do much masking and fun to try even if you don’t…

System requirements

Mac: macOS 10.12 and up

Win: Windows 7, 8, 10 64-bit only

OpenGL: OpenGL 3.3

GPU VRAM: Min 2GB, Recommended 4GB, Optimal 6GB

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