Yonko Shots

March 27, 2007

Fluid Mask vs. Mask Pro vs. Primatte / Round 2

Filed under: Photos — johnyonko @ 6:34 pm

This is Round 2 of the Fluid Mask vs. Mask Pro vs. Primatte PhotoShop plugin transparency masking software review.  What happened in Round 1?  Scroll down a tad.  You should read it before reading this entry.

 Or, you could just wait for me to tell you that Vertus’ Fluid Mask won Round 1 primarily on the strength of the quality of the fine details left visible in the hair of the subject after masking the green background.

Digital Anarchy’s Primatte will not compete in Round 2 because this program is designed to function with either a green or blue background, and the test photo in this Round will be one shot against an off-white ivory toned canvas background.

A single Photogenic strobe – slightly offset left of center – was used to illuminate the subject.  Offsetting the key light created a slight shadow on the left side of the subjects face and neck and also cast a shadow on the background.  However, there is sufficient distance between the foreground edge of the subject’s face and the shadow on the canvas so that no complication is expected with the masking.  In fact, you should notice that the shadow on the face creates a fairly good if not great definition between the subject and the background.

Here is the original Yonko Shot of photographer subject John Creighton.  It is nearly a duplicate of the photo used in Round 1 with the only noticeable difference being the smile and, of course, the background color.  All else appears to be constant.

In general, despite the similarity of tones in the skin and background, it is expected that both Fluid Mask and Mask Pro should be able to handle the masking well.

Here are the resulting hair test photos after applying the Fluid Mask and Mask Pro transparency plugins.



Wow.  Nearly a tie!  I would give the top photo an A+ and the 2nd photo an A++.  Both Mask Pro and Fluid Mask did an excellent job. 

For speed, Mask Pro was faster by a few seconds, literally.

For ease of use, absolutely a tie!

For quality, if I’m obligated to make a choice, I have to say that Fluid Mask has more visible strands of hair, but they are not easy to find.  You have to have a really critical eye.  Look for the peach fuzz on the ear.  There is some visible in the Mask Pro example, but more in the Fluid Mask photo.

Don’t tell me after all this, we’re going to end in a tie!

OK.  I won’t.  Here are the two face test photos.  Unlabelled.

One is clearly superior.  What is your guess?

Face Test Photo # 1

and the winner is……………………

Face Test Photo # 2

This time, it was basically no contest.

For speed, Fluid Mask won easily because Mask Pro required several tries to avoid masking pieces of the face.  NOTE:  there are three ways to correct this ‘overmasking’ problem when it occurs – and it will occur. First, simply undo your last stroke and repaint more carefully.  Second, change the mode from drop to keep and paint over the deleted pixels you want to keep.  They’ll be restored like magic.  Third, after you’ve returned to PhotoShop, you can simply paint over the deleted area with the history brush.  Paint carefully.  Again, the deleted pixels will be restored. 

For ease of use, again, for the same reason, Fluid Mask won easily.

For quality of extraction, the bottom photo # 2 belongs to Vertus’ Fluid Mask.

Bottom Line:  Fluid Mask wins Round 2.

Click here for Round 3: https://johnyonko.wordpress.com/2007/03/28/fluid-mask-vs-mask-pro-vs-primatte-round-3/

Recommendation:  Download the demos and do an extraction yourself.  Use a good, clean, well defined photograph.  Here are links where you can download demos and watch tutorials:

For Vertus’ Fluid Mask, the link is:


For onOne Software, the link is:


Note 1:  Vertus has two tutorials for masking hair.  One is called “Hair & Alpha mask tutorial”; the 2nd is found towards the bottom of the page in the Tips & Tricks & Tools section and is called “Dealing with Hair”.

Note 2:  Watch Mike Wong’s Mask Pro tutorial regarding extracting hair and bubbles.  His easy style is pure joy to hear.

email me: johnyonko@gmail.com



  1. For the second image with a brown background, Fluid Mask was far easier with perfect results.

    Both programs have serious faults. I have had both lock up on me. Fluid Mask is missing some serious tools that Mask Pro includes: an erase/restore brush, a very good pen tool, and a chisel tool.

    Mask Pro handles extractions using colors better, the interface is much more intuitive. Fluid Mask is confusing.

    Mask Pro has more control over the edge quality.

    Mask Pro has a better interface: include more Photoshop like commands such as spacebar ctrl/alt to zoom in or out.

    They both lack the ability to create alpha masks that include the color decontamination data. The work around of creating the mask from the extraction afterward looses the decontamination data. Alpha masks are preferred over extractions in some applications.

    That said, I sometimes don’t use these programs and just make a mask.

    Comment by Larry Leuallen — January 28, 2008 @ 8:33 pm

  2. Using Fluid Mask: how does one deal with a subject that includes wispy hair, cigarette smoke and soap bubbles against a very busy multicolored background?
    What’s the approach?

    ANSWER: Approach with caution.

    Comment by Barliman Butterbur — April 25, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

  3. It’s been a while since you revisited this subject and all of the major contenders have had major product releases, including a new contender from Topaz, “Remask”, so I”m wondering when you will do a Round Three? I Was using Mask Pro 4.1 simply because for a gross layman like myself it was so easy to use… recently upgraded to vers 5.0 and now I’m as lost as I was trying to use Fluid Mask… going to download the trial for Remask today and mess with it, hence my curiosity in your analysis which was quite well done by the way. I add new images to my Chat program, MagChat, daily and I want the images to appear to float, which means I need to remove the backgrounds… I also note CS5 Photoshop, which I use, has come a long ways in it’s masking tools. I hope this encourages you to update your comparisons… I do think they are helpful for people like me to read.

    Comment by Mark Gundy — December 2, 2011 @ 8:47 am

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