The ON1 Photo 10 Perfect Brush Lives Up To Its Name

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The ON1 Photo 10 Perfect Brush Lives Up To Its Name

The original image is shown on the left and the completed image with new sky is shown on the right.
On1 Photo has really improved the Perfect Brush which is used for masking.

In an earlier “How To” I showed how to replace a bad sky with a “good sky” in Photoshop. In this “How To” we are going to look at another tool that does a great job with this technique: ON1 Photo 10. The company may sound familiar because earlier this month I covered off using the update to ON1 Effects 10 to create a Tilt-Shift effect.

In actual fact, On1 Photo was recently upgraded to version 10.5 and one of the big improvements was to the Perfect Brush. For those of you unfamiliar with the Perfect Brush, think of it as a masking brush. As you paint over areas they are essentially masked but, under the hood, the improvements to the Perfect Brush make it an outstanding masking tool.

Let’s see what I am talking about.

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How To Use The ON1 Photo Perfect Brush

The Perfect Brush Tolerance and Threshold controls are shown.
The new Tolerance and Threshold controls make the Perfect Brush more perfect than previous versions.

When you open an image in On1 Photo the first thing to do is to select the image in the Layers panel and click the Duplicate Layer button. One never works on an original copy of an image.

With the copied layer selected press Command-R (Mac) or Ctrl-R (PC) to enable the Perfect Brush. You can tell it is enabled because the Perfect Brush icon in the Tool Options bar at the top turns blue. Your cursor will also change to one composed of two circles- one is dashed and the inner one is solid- and a minus sign in the middle of the brush.

The area between the two circles is the size of the feathering applied to the Perfect Brush. You can adjust the Feather area by changing the value of the Feather slider in the Options.

The minus sign is the sample point. Any colour under that sign, will be masked out.

To the right is a gear icon and this is where the the Perfect Brush improvements were made. When you click the gear icon, a pop down menu showing Color Threshold and Tolerance appear.

The Color Threshold value determines how much colour under the cursor is sampled. For instance a value of 0 will result in a point sample and should be used for very fine areas like hair. A value of 100 will sample a very large area of colour under that minus sign. Though the Threshold setting is dependent upon the detail in the mask area, a setting of around 10-15 is a good starting point.

The Tolerance slider determines the hardness of the mask edge. A setting of 0 will result in a jagged hard edge and a setting of 100 will result in a very soft edge. A good starting point is around 50.

Once the Perfect Brush setting are in place, drag the cursor onto the image being sure the minus sign is over a colour you want masked. Then click and drag. In the case of this image kept the minus sign in any sky area.

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How To Deal With Detail Using The ON 1 Photo Perfect Brush

The Threshold value is set to 0 and the Transition value is set to 100.
There are a few ways of dealing with the masking details in ON1 Photo 10.

One common issue when dealing with masks is avoiding removing fine detail, like hair, in an image. Over on the right side of the image there are a couple of cedar trees with sky showing through the small branches. There are a couple of ways to deal with this using the Perfect Brush.

The first is to move the brush over the masked are close to the branches and, with the Command or Ctrl key held down, click the mouse. This samples the colour to be removed and anything that is not that colour, the branches, will remain protected. Smiply place the minius sign over the colour to be removed and click the mouse.

The second method uses the Transition and Threshold settings for the Perfect Brush. If you move the Threshold slider to a value of 0, it only picks up the color under the minus sign in the brush. Push the Transition slider all the way to 100 and you avoid a jagged area in the mask. From there you can zoom in on an area – Command/Ctrl- + - and click or click and drag.

To see the mask, press the o-key. To return to the image, press the o key again.

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How To Use The ON1 Photo Textures

The Sky texture is selected in in Extras pane and placed on the casnvas.
Use the many textures that come pakaged with ON1 photos to add a creative flare to your work.

Obviously we need to put some sky under the mask. On1 Photo 10 ships with a collections of textures and one of the textures includes some sky. To access the Textures click the >> button in the bottom left. This will change open the Extras pane. Double click the ON1 Extras folder , then open Textures>Natural. You will see five cloud textures in this folder.

I decided the Cloud3.jpg image would work. To add it, click and drag the file to the canvas. When you release the mouse, the Edit dialog box opens asking you what you want to do. Select Add as a layer and click OK.close the Extras panel by clicking the << button and then drag the Clouds 3 layer under the masked layer.

The clouds look a little flat. To add a little more drama to them, select the Move Tool and click on the Clouds layer. Click and drag the bottom middle handle up to a point at the back of the lake. What this does is distort the image in such a way, that the clouds take on a bit of perspective.

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How To Save An Image In ON1 Photo

The Export Pane is shown.
The Export Pane is ideal for your inner "Control Freak".

There are a couple of ways of saving the final image. The first is to select File>Save As and choose a format, including a Photoshop .psd image, to its final location.

If you click the blue Save button in the bottom right corner, the image will be saved in whatever format was used for the original.

If you are a “control freak” then the Export Panel was made for you. When you click the Export button in the bottom right, the Export panel opens. From here you can choose:

  • File Type: You can save to Jpeg, Photoshop, Photoshop Large Document, Tiff and PNG.
  • Color Space: Adobe RGB, Apple RGB, ColorMatch RGB, ProPhoto RGB and sRGB IEC61966-2.1
  • Location: Pick a folder, choose whether to overwrite to original or current version and even what to do after export.
  • File Names: Name the file and even create multiple versions of the file.

Click the Export button to save the file.