Luminosity Masks are traditionally used to blend images or work within specific tonal ranges within images. They are a great tool for these tasks because of the feathering on the edges of selections allowing for very smooth transitions. But they can also be used to make hard edge selections with a little refinement, which makes them a great all around selection tool.
When using Photoshop, most intermediate and advanced users have many methods they can use to achieve the same results. It’s important to have many methods to achieve results as often our first or preferred method does not always yield the results we are looking for.
One of the most difficult things that we can do in Photoshop is make accurate selections for the purpose of replacing or cutting out of objects in our images. Photoshop gives us some great selection tools such as the Magic Wand and Quick Selection tools, then the Refine Edge tool to further refine our selections. These tools can work very well for us, but it can get quite cumbersome at times and might not always work out the way that we were hoping.
Luminosity Masks give us an additional option when it comes to making our hard edged selections. Although they are typically used because of the feathering they give in selections, we can modify and refine our selections with Luminosity Masks to give us hard edge selections. In this tutorial I give two examples of how Luminosity Masks can be used to make hard edged selections. By making our initial selections of Lights or Darks we use the Unlimited Masks Tool (a levels adjustment on the mask), to refine our selections and create the hard edges that we are after.
As with any selection tool, we require there to be some kind of tonal separation between the objects that we are trying to separate, so if you have objects which have virtually the same tonal value, Luminosity Masks will struggle, but if there is some tonal separation this may be the perfect tool for you.
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