Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Workflow Technique #050

EasyMask 1.0 (PC only)


note by Uwe Steinmueller

Note: EasyMask can be used in Photoshop Elements 2



Unfortunately during sharpening you may also amplify noise as it looks like detail to the sharpening algorithm. A common practice is to use edge masks to prevent sharpening the noise. Our EasyS sharpening plugin comes with actions that allow to use such masks and will reduce the sharpening of noise.

With EasyMask we now have a tool that creates some more sophisticated masks and is still easy to use. From the documentation: "It goes beyond the simple edge-creation built-into Photoshop by allowing more control over the detection process, plus adds the ability to reject noise from being included in the mask."

EasyMask is even essential if you use Photoshop Elements as you cannot use the EasyS actions in Elements.


The use is easy:

Canon 1D Mk. II 1250 ISO photo

We converted this photo in Adobe Camera Raw 2.2 without any Luminance noise removal.

100% magnification before sharpening

Sharpened with EasyS and no masking

As you can see sharpening would amplify the noise (if you would use the actions that come with EasyS the results are better but we think that you gain with EasyMask even more control).

How to use EasyMask?

There are two ways to use EasyMask.

1. Create a layer with an alpha mask (works in PS Elements 2)

Create a new layer (it won't work on the background image) that contains all the information of the layers below. (If you don't feel comfortable to work with layers we recommend that you get our e-book DOP2000.).

Now run EasyMask:

Easy Mask

  • Noise Level: This control adjusts the noise threshold for the created mask. A lower value will include more pixels in the final mask. A higher value will exclude more values.
  • Gain: This control adjusts how fast the transition from masked (black) to unmasked (white) occurs. For low values, the transition is gradual. For higher values, the transition occurs more quickly.
  • Invert Mask: Enabling ?Invert Mask? will include (show, or unmask) flat areas and exclude (hide or mask-off) edges, the opposite of the usual behavior.
  • Output mask as grey scale: Enabling this control will make the final output be a black /grey / white image instead of the usual transparency mask. This will be more useful in full Photoshop, rather than in Elements, where this mask can then be used as a selection mask on other layers.

EasyMask will then create an alpha mask on that layer:

The layer will look like this

Now you can sharpen with any sharpening tool you like. This way you only sharpen the edges and hardly any noise.

Using EasyMask and EasyS

2. Create a layer with an alpha mask (does not work in PS Elements 2)

You can also create the mask as a gray scale image:

Mask as gray scale image

What to do with that gray scale mask? With some operation in PS you can create a layer mask from it. Here is the rough workflow:

  • Create a new layer with the content of all layer below
  • Duplicate that layer
  • Run EasyMask with gray scale mask output
  • Ctrl+A (select all)
  • Ctrl+C (copy)
  • Delete the mask layer
  • Create an empty layer mask for the first layer we created
  • Alt-click the layer mask (should be white)
  • Ctrl+V (copy mask)

To make your life simple we created a simple action for this operation.


We think that EasyMask is a good addition to our filter collection (try before you buy). Of course the use of EasyMask is not only limited to sharpening.

To download a demo version or buy go here





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