How would you mask this background?

I’d like to mask the background so I can add a little more blur and tone down the colors. I tried using the brush and that looked bad.

Then I tried the auto mask and that included too much of the deer. I also tried the control line and I couldn’t make that work either.
Any thoughts?

Auto-Mask is your friend. Mask the deer very carefully and then invert the mask. You can do better than this using the original RAW file.


When you have a well-defined subject like this with high-frequency edges that you need to isolate precisely, then open the file in PL5 and export it with optical corrections and noise reduction only (a DNG file) to LightRoom. There, use ‘select subject’ mask+copy-mask+invert-the-copy. Magic! MUCH less fiddling than auto-mask or control-lines/control-points (plus luma/color) in PL and astonishingly accurate.

OTOH, if you need only to tone the background without precisely isolating the foreground subject (as here) the existing differences in color and luminance between foreground and background (as here) are sufficient for the control-point/control-line tools in PL. Experiment with placing the ‘eye-dropper’ tool in the control-line mask and with the chroma/luma sliders (first select the ‘show masks’ checkbox in the bottom of the window frame to see what the results of each experiment are). I’d try a mask that selects the background grass, first, and then a second mask (‘duplicate’) that selects the background ‘sand’/dirt.

Finally, you might like to see if you can avoid masking altogether by using the “Creative vignetting” tool in PL. It will often add both sufficient tone to a background where the subject is more-or-less centered in the frame, as here, while also adding a bit of drama.

Peter, the point of these forums is to help people do what they need in PL, not Lr. @rrblint has the best idea.


This may be because you need to zoom in and reduce the brush size when working around the “thin bits” in order to ensure that the mask is as precise as possible.

Zooming in gives you much more precision but there are still some bits of the edges, especially the furry bits, that are not razor sharp and may need the eraser to tidy them up.

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I believe things have changed a bit on this site over time. While I do almost all of my post-work in the PL 5 suite and the Nik Collection, many newer regulars here seem to use PhotoLab as only part of their post processing workflow.


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I was automasking outside the deer. Didn’t think to automask the deer and then invert. I’ll give that a try.

I used auto-mask and then inverted. Then I noted some sort of haze on the fur. Never seen that before.


You missed that spot. go over it again on the mask of the deer or erase on the inverted mask.



DSC00485_DxO4_1.jpg.dop (305,5 KB)

In DxO PL4, I used the Graduated Filter for a believable sharpness falloff
and cleaned Bambi with the eraser (Wacom tablet).

Normally I wouldn’t do this in PL at all
– still missing advanced masking tools.

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It looks great. So just graduated filter over the whole deer and then erase away what covered her? Thanks!

I see you attached the .dop file. What can I do with that? Import it?

Use it with the jpg you provided here (or better a virtual copy of that one).
→ Try, if it fits with the original you used as master for your jpg.

BTW, I adjusted several settings in the GF.

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What is GF?

As " mwsilvers" stated in his post, PL5 is not the one and only graphic application used by people on this forum. Many processes, like this simple masking example can be done in seconds with the proper application and it’s tools. Yes you can pound a nail with a screwdriver but it’s so much easier with a hammer. Unfortunately PL5 just doesn’t have the proper tools for performing simple tasks and the workarounds are time consuming with mediocre results.


Graduated Filter :slight_smile:

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Great point Mark.

Lol. Thanks.

Did you try HSL?
Isolate the green.
Use complete desaturate in slider, everything what’s turning grey is effected.
Then next dot.
Isolate the dear’s furr.
Slide saturation back to normal and,
Then turn down green and enhance brown, furr. As far as it stay looking natural and then a notch back.
Finishing thouch.
Local adjustment controlpoints and chroma and luminance selection
To fine tune the colors. (greenisch for blur and desaturation.)
Deer in clearviewcontrast and vibrance to boost apperance.
Works best on rawfile.

If that doesn’t work because of to much brown in the grass , then yes smartbrush with larger featering and paint the dear.
Clean overpaint with erazor,(sadly we stil havent a button for that to do in one go.)
Copy and then invert. (secondmask)
Touch up second mask.
And proceed.
Dxopl doesn’t have magic lasso and such.
It has multi stroke and multiplying effect on every stroke of the brush over a excisting brush stroke.

Best way to start seeing which toolset is best for what kind of image is creating 6 vc’s and use on every one a different approach. Just foolaround and overdo it. Reset and use the things you saw happing wile goofing around.
Then you see the pro’s and con’s of each toolset. Which allows you to choose faster in the future.:slightly_smiling_face:

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@Soundchasr; to help in this process, set one of the sliders - such as Exposure - for the masking tool you’re using to an extreme setting … you can then see more clearly which areas need more attention.

John M


Hi Joanna,

the point of these forums is to help people do what they need in PL, not Lr.

Noted! I’m happy to be corrected by the forum Moderators if I’ve overstepped some bound or other. My remarks were, indeed, intended to be helpful to someone who uses PL.

I do not use PL exclusively – it’s clear that I’m not alone on that score – and see no reason to avoid mentioning a different-but-better solution when I think there is one. You may have noticed that I suggested a combined PL/LR approach in a particular case (‘subject isolation’), but also two other approaches that use PL only.

I note you prefer @rrblint’s approach: fair enough! It’s certainly one way to do it (‘isolation’) and I did not suggest otherwise; only that in my view it’s a lot more work and less accurate.

Good wishes, P