Welcome to the Vertus blog; news, reviews and special offers - VertusTech

Welcome to the Vertus blog; news, reviews and special offers

Vertus applications & Windows 10

Windows 10 WallpaperAll our testing shows Vertus applications running as normal in Windows 10, however if you should encounter any problems after upgrading your Windows operating system, please let us know with an email to support@vertustech.com.

If you’re interested, check out this youtube video to see how the image above was created and photographed in a studio, rather than CGI. Good to see Microsoft investing in real photography!

Posted on: August 1, 2015 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Bling! It, Fluid Mask, Play With Pictures, Technical Issues & Troubleshooting

Adobe Shortcuts and Key Commands sheets


Photoshop Shortcuts SheetWe spotted this over on Petapixel and thought too useful not to repost – the folks over at setupablogtoday.com have created a handy Photoshop CC Shortcuts sheet. They’ve also created them for Lightroom, Bridge and most other Adobe applications (see ‘related posts’ on their site).

Don’t forget there’s also a Fluid Mask 3 Shortcuts and Key Commands sheet you can download from our blog.

Whatever application you’re using, familiarising yourself with it’s shortcuts and key commands is the quickest, simplest and easiest way to speed up your workflow and work smarter.

Posted on: July 7, 2015 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Photoshop

Fluid Mask and Photoshop CC 2015

**UPDATE** The most recent windows build of Fluid Mask, version 3.3.14, now plugs into Photoshop CC2015. For more info’, see this more recent blog post.

 

 

Adobe have this week announced an update of Photoshop from to CC2015.

The Mac version of  Fluid Mask will successfully plug into CC2015 (you just need to go through the ‘enable plug-ins’ process, via the help menu in Fluid Mask’s menu bar). Should you have any problems with this please contact our support team who’ll be happy to help with any issues you experience.

The current Windows build of Fluid Mask does plug into CC 2015 – we are working on an updated build and will notify you as soon as that’s available.

The good news is that there’s a workaround. If you’d like to continue using Fluid Mask as a photoshop plug-in, you have the option to leave CC 2014 installed on your PC alongside CC 2015. If you have not already updated to CC 2015, and wish to keep CC2014 temporarily installed alongside CC2015 to use with Fluid Mask, when you get to this panel during the update process…CC2015_updatepanel

.. leave the ‘Remove old versions’ box unchecked – this will preserve CC 2104 and you can continue to use Fluid Mask as a plug-in.

If you have already updated and CC 2014 is no longer on your machine, there are instructions here on the adobe blog as to how to re-install CC 2014.

Posted on: June 18, 2015 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Fluid Mask, Photoshop, Technical Issues & Troubleshooting

What’s the big deal??!!?!

Our friends over at FotoPromos.com have put together a summer bundle that looks to be the real big deal – over $4,000 of photography resources for a crazy $99! A massive collection of training videos, presets and actions, plus e-books and tutorials from some of the industry’s best – plus some smart savings on software and cloud synced photo storage products (hot tip: check out Athentech’s ‘Perfectly Clear’ Photoshop and Lightroom plugin.. we reckon this deal is worth it’s purchase price for that alone!).

BigDealBanner

With 20% of total sales going to charity, everybody wins with this big deal – but you’ve got less than 10 days to grab yourself a bargain! Check it out over at FotoPromos.com.

Posted on: June 15, 2015 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Discounts & Promotions

How Jim LaSala adds value to his photography business with Fluid Mask

We talked to Jim previously in the Vertus blog about how he uses Fluid Mask in the workflow for his fine art photography. This time we’re focussing on the kind of jobs that are a working photographer’s bread and butter. Let’s start with portraiture photography.  Over to Jim;

“…remember the days where we all ran out and bought the latest and greatest backgrounds? Let’s see. There was backgrounds for babies, seniors, engagements, weddings, high key, low key… the list goes on and on. We would spend a fortune just keeping up. So how do we work around that? What are some of the things that we can do to show our creativity. FLUID MASK!!!!!!

Portraiture Photography Cutout - BeforeHere we see a before and after that was shot just using a plain white background. Now, many people will say, well you put it on a background that was easy to mask (we will get to one that was more difficult in a minute). My answer to that is (duh) yeah!!!!! Part of the planning is understand what you want the final image to look like. If I know i’m going to shoot a young model with black hair and a black dress, you better believe I won’t being using a black seamless paper. The idea of masking and montaging is to make your job as easy as possible. Think ahead, pre visualize.”

See how Jim uses Fluid Mask in his commercial portraiture work in his Portrait Backgrounds Video Tutorial.

“My backgrounds are endless. I can go as far as my imagination will take me. “

 

Portraiture Photography Cutout - After

Here’s another job that Jim’s put Fluid Mask to use on, masking both foreground and background elements from 2 separate images to realise his vision:

20140706_camiolo_miata_006520110905_landscapes_0006“A client who’d just got a new toy (his car), wanted something other than a plain background. So, we went out towards the end of the day and found an empty schoolyard. I used a fisheye lens. Although it is a lens that has so much distortion, I put the subject in the middle of the lens as to lessen this effect. I then went into my background library and was looking for something that would compliment the product as well as tell a story. The camera angle on both subjects works nicely together, and just take note of the transparent areas (windshield), as well as the trees in the second image. The original sky was ok, but I was looking for a bit more drama knowing that I would be turning this image into black and white. So, once again, back into my bag of goodies and pulled out a sky.

20140706_camiolo_miata_0084This was a fun project to work on and would have been very very difficult without having the right tools.”

“The right tool for me is Fluid Mask. Thank you Vertus for a software that has changed the way I do business.”

20140706_camiolo_miata_0065_bw

 

Thanks to Jim for sharing his work with us, see more at www.jimlasala.com

For a limited period… click here to save 40% and get Fluid Mask for $89

See how far your imagination can take you…

Posted on: April 29, 2015 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Discounts & Promotions, Fluid Mask, Testimonials

Elmo, meet Maleficent!!

Photographer & Art Director Mark Magner uses Fluid Mask a his go to cutout tool in his role as Design Director at Sesame Workshop. He recently demoed on the Wacom stand at Comic-Con International in San Diego last month, where two very different characters met for the first time…

Elmo says hi to Malifecient, (with a little help from Mark!)on the Wacom stand at Comic-Con International '14 in San Diego last month.

Elmo says ‘Hi!’ to Maleficent, (with a little help from Mark)on the Wacom stand at Comic-Con International ’14 in San Diego last month.

HIs workshop was very well attended with an audience keen to see his workflow, and Fluid Mask plays a big role: “I have found that Fluid Mask is one of the best applications available for masking the kinds of textures that our characters have.”

Here’s Mark to explain a little more:

“Working with Sesame Street photography has one challenge that is unique, masking images of the characters while maintaining enough soft hair on the outside edges to still look natural…… There is no end to the masking software that’s available as well as methods that you can do in Photoshop alone. We’ve tried them all with varying degrees of success. Most do very well on smooth edged objects, human hair or animal fur, but the Sesame Street Muppets have very fine fur which is often so lightly colored it’s difficult to find the edges between the background and foreground…..

Another challenge we have is completely removing the white background that is visible between the hairs. If the masked photo is used against white or a light color it’s not a problem, but if the photo is placed against a darker background a halo of the residual background color often appears and this doesn’t look natural. I have found that Fluid Mask is one of the best applications available for masking the kinds of textures that our characters have. The program is intuitive and the process is reasonably fast. However, for best results, if the artwork is going to be seen large I tell people that the results are directly related to your patience and knowledge of the software.”

Here's Mark (center) with Diana Leto, Freelance Illustrator and Douglas Little, Sr. Public Relations Manager at Wacom

Here’s Mark (center) with Diana Leto, Freelance Illustrator and Douglas Little, Sr. Public Relations Manager at Wacom

Maybe it’s just the childhood memories the thought evokes, but we’re stoked that Elmo, Grover and the rest of the Sesame Street gang benefit from Fluid Mask!

If you haven’t already, it’s worth spending a little time browsing the learning resources on this blog, and check out our tutorials in full on YouTube. Work smarter with Fluid Mask!

See more of Mark’s design and photography work on his website http://www.magnergraphix.com , or re-live your childhood a little, over at the Sesame Workshop.

It’s a sunny day, everything’s – A-Okay, and we’re off to where the air is sweet..

Posted on: August 12, 2014 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Testimonials, Tradeshows

Jim LaSala featured in LensWork

LensWorkCongratulations to Jim LaSala, whose documentary work in Haiti is featured in the latest edition of LensWork Magazine. As well as an interview with Jim, one of his images also made the cover. LensWork is a bi-monthly print magazine that’s also available as a digital version.. “about Photographs (rather than cameras!)” … how refreshing!

We’ve previously featured some of Jim’s work from Haiti on the Vertus blog, as well as his use of Fluid Mask. You can also see his video masterclass using Fluid Mask in his digital studio on our YouTube channel.

Posted on: May 12, 2014 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Reviews, Testimonials

Blending, Brushes & Edge Finding Overview

Here’s a 3 min cutout of a bride and her veil that gives you a good overview of the functionality of brushes and blending settings – the nuts and bolts of masking technique.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 15.53.43

Top tip: The #1 cause of a poor quality mask showing some background contamination is not extending your blue blend mask fully into both your green keep and your red delete mask. Turning up the mask opacity slider can quickly show you any areas that need attention using the blue blend exact brush.

Posted on: April 4, 2014 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Uncategorized

When a cutout is not as easy as it looks…. patches to the rescue!!

Here’s an image that’s a good example of the flexibility that the patches tool can offer. Patches allows you to blend a large variety of edges with different characteristics independently of each other, to create a successful cut out. The forced edge tool also plays a role. Although this is sometimes seen as a tool of last resort, it allows you the flexibility to decide for yourself where the cutout should start and finish. This ability to create and define an edge can be an enormous advantage, when there’s no discernible edge to find.

©shutterstock_77923723

At first glance this image looks like an easy task, shot in the studio against a plain white background. But zooming in closer you can see that the lighting used to create the high key effect has produced some quite different edges to consider, from the dark shadow area around the feet and jeans, to the soft edges generated by the rim and fill light along the tops of her shoulders and torso, and of course there’s also her hair to consider. No problem for Fluid Mask!   (click the image to see a larger version –  please note this image is © shutterstock )

Here’s my Color Workspace, and here’s what I did:

shutterstock_FM3Workspace

 

First off, edge width threshold at 6 pixels, number of edges at 50% and blend width set to to thin does the job for all of the image except where I’ve applied patches (around her head for the hair and along her shoulders and torso). I’ve added a forced edge with a few clicks along the top of her laptop and where she’s in contact with the floor, as I don’t want that shadow retained in my cutout.

I’ve used the blend brush on her hair and around the shirt, and then applied patches to shoulders and torso and set the blend ratio (controlled by the feather/smart slider in the edge blending pane) over towards feather, (at ratios of 4:1 for left shoulder, 3:1 for right shoulder and left torso and at 2:1 for right torso). It was really just a matter of drawing in the patch and then playing with the slider and previewing what looks best. I then applied another patch over the head and neck and again, after trying a few different ratios and previewing my results, using the preview cut-out tool, I set the feather / smart ratio at 1:1 which gave the best rendering.

©shutterstock_cutout

And here’s the finished cutout below. I’ve placed her against a red background so you can best see the edges (click for high res’). An image which whilst looking to be a simple masking task, actually has a few complications and tricky edges, handled by with Fluid Mask 3 with the use of patches.

You can learn more about patches, getting edge blending right and the forced edge tool from our techniques tutorials.

Work smarter not harder with Fluid Mask.

Posted on: February 4, 2014 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Edge Blending, Fluid Mask, How to...

If all you want for Christmas is a perfect mask, fast.. here’s how:

Here’s a quick Christmas themed example utilising the patch tool & the color workspace. These are workaday elements of Fluid Mask that help you achieve fast, accurate masking. If you’re not yet familiar with them, it’s recommended that you view our online tutorials that cover these functions first.  Work smarter not harder with Fluid Mask.

Happy Holidays from all at Vertus!

XmasCutoutWP

Patch applied using the (polygon) patch tool

Patch applied using the (polygon) patch tool

First, I isolated the area to be masked using the patch tool to take advantage of the advanced blending options this offers. I’ve used the polygon option here, clicking for anchor points as I go, but you could also use the patch brush. However it’s applied, make sure your patch stays reasonably close to the area to be masked, to ensure there’s not too much bleed into the background area to be deleted.

The color workspace, with 'keep' areas selected

The color workspace, with ‘keep’ areas selected

Using the colour workspace, in this instance as a 2D colour map, I then selected the areas within the patch to keep. The colour map allows you to select areas by clicking and dragging a marquee over the area of interest or by sampling a color directly from the image (more about that below). The selection is highlighted yellow in the 2D colour map and also within the image. I then assigned the selection as a keep mask by clicking the green keep mask bucket icon to the left of the workspace. Having made my initial keep selection, I was able to see the results by clicking preview in the patch properties:

'Preview' enabled within Patch Properties

‘Preview’ enabled within Patch Properties

An impressive first pass. To make sure I’ve included all the pine needles and snow, I went back to the colour workspace to apply a blend to my keep selection (see below). It can be easier to see what you are doing by clicking the green eye in the colour workspace, turning off visibility of the keep selection, leaving visible the remaining unassigned pixels in the color map.

fig4

The color map with the green keep selection turned off

Using the colour sampler, I took selections directly from within the image, selecting areas to keep by sampling the colours from the tree’s needles, snow and the bauble. These selections will appear yellow in the color workspace, it was easy to then expand the selections by selecting similar colours from within the workspace. It’s a great way to fine tune your keep/delete/blend selections, you select colors either directly from your image (using the Color Sampler) or in the color workspace display itself. In both cases, the selected colors are highlighted yellow in the image and the color map.

Fig5

Keep mask with blend applied using the colour workspace. Notice there’s now no pixels showing in the workspace histogram, as both keep and blend selections are hidden.

As the whole of the keep area is fairly sharp, I’ve set the intelligent blending slider all the way over to ‘smart’ and set complex edge blending to ‘sharp’ for a perfect result:

Fig6

With one click I then applied delete mask to the rest of the image (the red delete local brush) and hit create cutout. Job done. Work smarter not harder with Fluid Mask!

MerryXmasFromVertus

Posted on: December 16, 2013 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Fluid Mask, How to..., Trees & Lattices, Tutorial

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