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Does p.n have a way to use MASKS like PSE does?

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I've been using paint.net to do digital Photo Scrapping. I just started and am having a lot of fun with the program. I've seen other bloggers put up MASKS that they use in their photo shop programs to outline pictures and make the edges fade away. The MASKS are transparent on the outsides and black where the picture will show through. I found a tutorial using MASKS in PSE but I can't figure out how to use it in my Paint.net.

I want my picture to show through the black part of the mask and have everything around it be transparent so I can lay it ontop of another layer that has pretty paper on it.

Does anyone understand what I'm asking?

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Not natively, but yes. Search ( http://searchpaint.net ) for "Alpha Mask" and see if that's what you want. :-)


The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior... A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
Amy: But how did it end up in there?
The Doctor: You know fairy tales. A good wizard tricked it.
River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.

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  • 1 month later...

I too have been looking to work with photo masks in PDN with limited success.

Where the mask is crisp and clear variance between what you want to keep and what you want to disappear its pretty easy. However when the mask is more complex I havent had much luck.

An example of the type of mask is this:


Any help would be appreciated.

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OK dont mean to be critical here BUT...........

Can all the moderator/old dab hands/ masters of pdn PLEASE PLEASE be a little more helpful in these forums. I am pretty new to this and read this board often and with enthusiasm eager to learn new things. I do the searches before I post anything. As a novice who is keen to embrace pdn it's very disheartening to be fobbed off and told to seach. Have you ever thought maybe we did search and because of our lack of experience didnt realise a particular post actually answered our query without maybe using the exact terminology we assumed we were looking for?

Surely your aim is to encourage people to experiment and grow with this great program. If new people are constantly belittled and chastised when asking an innocent question it doesnt really entice you to persevere and dare to post again does it. I know there are some lazy members who ask dumb questions where it's obvious they have made no endeavour to find the answer themselves but please dont lump us all into that category.

Is the board that heavily populated and used that a quick reply with a link wouldnt suffice rather than a teacher like "go look for yourself" reply?

I wanted to ask about these masks before and when I saw this original post I too thought "yippeee" that will answer my question too, so I thought I would post the pictures enabling the experts to see what we meant. Anyway thats my gripe for the day, I do hope I am not shot down in flames for voicing an opinion I am sure many feel.

If anyone has the answer for this query I would appreciate the help.

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Can all the moderator/old dab hands/ masters of pdn PLEASE PLEASE be a little more helpful in these forums.

It may just be a perception of mine, but I find the mods and users (young and old) very helpful. Don't be quick to think a short reply is a terse one, generally this isn't the case. Mods especially have a heavy workload around here and short, to the point, replies are very common.

As a novice who is keen to embrace pdn it's very disheartening to be fobbed off and told to seach.

The original poster was not "fobbed off" IMHO. They were taught something of value - the search tool location. The link was given and the term that the user should be searching for was supplied. This is a technique I wholeheartedly support as it teaches users to be self starters and a little more independent.

If a poster has already searched unsuccessfully for something I think it beholden on them to let us know that in their post. That way we avoid "tried that" types of followup posts.

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Ego Eram Reputo has said pretty much what I would have, I'd like to reiterate some of those points nonetheless.

You name moderators as one of those who 'fob off' with unhelpful responses, and you could say that is entirely true: telling someone to search for the answer themselves is far less forth-giving of information than actually giving them the answer. However, it is said in the Rules that one must search for the answer first, and you must admit that you never made clear that you had done this yourself. We were, therefore, running on the assumption that you hadn't and you were looking for the easy route to a solution - you are not the first and certainly will not be the last. The easy route is not necessarily the most benefiting route.

As a moderator, we have to quickly and decisively respond according to the information we have. Sometimes we are wrong, sometimes we are right.

What's more, you generally do not need to know precise, technical terminology to search effectively. For instance, using your case as example, if you were to use the Forum Search facility to find 'masks' - nothing more, nothing less - you would find a host of topics relating to 'alpha masks'; some of these may not be relevant to your exact query, but you would find something applicable to your situation. Moreover, people in the same situation (as in, newer users) are generally bound to use the same terms as you, as in, nothing pedantically correct, so there's a higher probability of finding something relating to you. To use your analogy: yes, it is a haystack, but you're finding a bargepole.

Finally, you will find that the poster to suggest 'go search' will give helpful clues on what to search for. David did this ('alpha masks'), I did this (a so-called tutorial by Crazy Man Dan), and you will find others do this as well. For this one fact alone you have no leg to stand on, but that is by the wayside.

Again, though, we were not aware that you already had looked.

As you can see, presumptions were made that were clearly unjust, and apologies are extended to you for such injustice. However, you must see it from our perspective as well, to see the flip-side of the coin, to consider the other factors of the situation.

To hopefully repair this apparent breakdown of communication, below you will find two links: the first to the alpha mask plugin, the second to the accompanying tutorial:



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OK.... "Alpha Masks" are obviously what we need to apply our already made masks! Thing is I still cant get my head around how to use it even after reading through the two links Myrddin kindly sent. Obviously my limited understanding of graphics and programs are holding me back here.

What I was doing with simple masks was using the magic wand to select the "black area" then copying it on to the picture I want to fit "on" the mask and cutting the opposite area away and voila result was prefect. As I am enoying this effect more though my masks have become more complex where for example a mask may be a million separate little dots and the thought of doing the magic wand to pick up every one is daunting and this is what I am finding hard to understand.

So please if you can do a step by step I will love you for life. If you cant be bothered its ok too.

for those willing to help here is another mask so you can see what I mean. In the below all black areas would effectively be erased.

Thanks Yvonne


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Presuming the part of the frame you want transparent is white, open it in Paint.NET, fire up Curves+ and go into Advanced mode. Ensuring the curve is in direct mode, draw a negative line and set the input to "luminosity" and the output to "alpha." Then click ok and add the image as a custom frame (to be used with the plugin.)

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Hmmmm dont know what to say to this....

I already have the mask..... example posted.

I can find curves... direct mode I cannot even see under either curves headings, have no idea what draw a negative line means. Nor how to step by step set the input or output.

Feel like I need an interpreter.... but thanks anyway

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I do have curves and curves+ and I still dont know how to apply the steps you posted.... sorry.

This is an example of how it is explained on a tutorial for Photoshop that I find easy to understand but cannot "translate" into pdn.

The instructions for using these masks are very simple.

Step 1. Open your photo in PSE.

Step 2. Select the photo mask you wish to use, and open it in PSE.

Step 3. Drag the photo onto the photo mask so that it is the layer above the photo mask.

Step 4. Select ctrl+g to clip it together.

Step 5. To use it in a layout, select Layer--> Merge Visible.

Step 6. Drag the photo onto your layout.



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At the risk of looking like a complete moron here.......... I dont see how this makes the transformation from mask to photo!

I want this : bonus+mask.jpg

to become this: bonus+lo.jpg

The white background on the mask disappears and the photo "attaches" itself to the mask (or black sections). I cant see the corelation between the video tutorial and an end result.

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My apologies, Iwonder_who, I said I would reply as soon as but haven't until now. After you sent your PM, I typed up a reply in accordance to that message, and it seems what I typed might still have relevance.


If you already have the mask, then the job is already half done. If you want to apply the mask onto a photo, you can follow these steps:

  1. [*:2dxeclj4] first, open up the image;
    [*:2dxeclj4] next, go to the menu Effects > Alpha Mask, then locate the mask you have saved via the 'Browse' command;
    [*:2dxeclj4] you will notice here that a live preview happens behind the dialog; you can, if you need to, tick the checkboxes for reversing the masking result or fiddling with the alpha (the transparent pixels);
    [*:2dxeclj4] hit 'OK' and have done with it.

Alternatively, if you want a coloured 'cover' over your photograph, like your examples (white in that case), then follow the same procedure on a new layer with a solid colour. You can create such a layer by going to Layers > Add New Layer and filling it with whatever colour you wish (via the Paint Bucket ( :PaintBucketTool: ) or selecting all and hitting the Backspace key on your keyboard).

The advantage of applying a mask as a 'cover' - as opposed to directly on the photo - is that you can better control how the mask interacts with the base image. Blend modes, colour, orientation and location can all be manipulated if necessary.

Does this help somewhat?

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OMG the penny has dropped!!! I finally get it Myrddin thank you heaps.

but..... you knew this was going to happen didnt you lol. OK my individual mask now comes up 8 fold when I choose the mask and I dont know how to manipulate it to fit over the part of the picture I want or to make it only appear once. I tried playing with the size of the mask and applying but then lost it altogther. Any tips there for me?

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my individual mask now comes up 8 fold when I choose the mask...
Could you explain this part in more detail, please? Do you mean that you have eight layers, or eight images? I'd hate to guess incorrectly, sending you on a wild goose chase.

Could you describe how you're wanting to manipulate the mask as well please? We can't give effective tips without direction.

you knew this was going to happen didnt you lol.
I wouldn't be living up to my username if I didn't, now would I? ;)
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OK see if I can explain in this... say my picture has a child on the beach much like the sample I posted earlier.... and the mask is the same as the one used. How can I "move" the mask over the part of the picture I want it to show. ie not chop her head off.

When I downloaded that particular mask and open it as a separate image, it opens as just the one image.... yet when I open the same mask over the alpha masked picture it suddenly turns into 8 masks.... all on the one photo. I am sure this has something to do with the size of each image... does that sound right? Do they have to be the same size?

Some of the masks dont show up at all.... is there a rule of type of file accepted... or does the mask have to be the same size as the image you want to cover? Just made another discovery which probably wasnt helping me, some of the masks are not black/white but a png with no colour so when I filled in with white they worked. Yippeee I am making headway :-)

OK figured out a way to do it... which I am sure is a long winded route to achieve the same effect by opening the mask then adding the photo in another layer to get positioning and size right, then delete the mask and apply as per your method. Am a happy and relieved girl. You are a champion to persevere with me, thanks.


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How can I "move" the mask over the part of the picture I want it to show. ie not chop her head off.
I read that you figured it out yourself, which is fantastic. I'd like to post the way I would do it for certain images, if that's okay? I'm not trying say that my way is in any way better than yours :).

  1. [*:2nxggz1p] On the mask layer, select all (Ctrl + A or Edit menu > Select All) before using the Move Pixels tool to relocate the mask, hitting the Enter key or the Escape key to finalise the move;
    [*:2nxggz1p] use the Paint Bucket ( :PaintBucketTool: ) or select-and-fill to fill the void areas created by the move.

Like I implied above, this is only one of many ways to work around this.

yet when I open the same mask over the alpha masked picture it suddenly turns into 8 masks.... all on the one photo
Ah, I think I may know what you mean. Yes, it's always best - but not essential - to have the mask the same size as your target image. You might get away with resizing it (Image > Resize), but for an excellent mask you may want to think about re-drawing it yourself to size.
...is there a rule of type of file accepted...
Not really: PNG, JPEG, BMP and GIF (the most common file formats) are accepted and work great. Although, I would stay away from JPEG because you may loose quality when saving the mask; PNG is a very good format, but it has a bloated file size.

On the same lines of formats, as the mask only comprises of two colours, saving in an 8-bit PNG or even GIF would be more than adequate - these are lossless formats when dealing with such low a number of colours, and are very small in file size.

I'm sorry if this is more information that you needed, conciseness is not be favourite bed-fellow.

Am a happy and relieved girl. You are a champion to persevere with me, thanks.
Bah! No worries, any time. :)
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