by Mike McNamee Published 01/06/2012
The Steel Hawser Problem
A classic case in which paths score over all other available methods. The safety hawser on the front of the lifeboat is curved and thin. This is difficult, though not impossible, to brush a mask along the length.
However, with a path, the end points may be set and then the control handles moved until the curve perfectly matches the line of the steel.
In this example the entire lifeboat was 'lifted' from its launch dolly on the A553 and dropped into a stormy ocean. The paths were used to make the initial hard-edged cut-out but the layer mask was subsequently painted with soft-edged brushes to depict the sea crashing through the safety rails. If you examine the background to the hawser it should be obvious that there was no possibility of using the Magic Wand to select the required areas, they are too similar in tone and colour.
The Hand Rail Problem
Here a graduated mask is used to allow the background to become progressively more out of focus and this fall-off is generally aligned from bottom to top of the image. The hand rail is caught up in this and to prevent it blurring at all (it is all the same distance from the camera) a path is drawn around it, converted to a selection and this selection is used to allow the mask to be painted black and prevent any blurring. The 'mechanical' nature of the handrail, with its regular curves and straight lines, made it fastest to make the mask with a path.
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