Yonko Shots

March 29, 2007

Fluid Mask vs. Mask Pro vs. Primatte / Round 4th & Maybe Final

Filed under: Photos — johnyonko @ 2:03 pm

 Leah Special thanks to test subject Leah

Why do a 4th Round of Fluid Mask vs. Mask Pro vs. Primatte when Fluid Mask seems to have wrapped up the number 1 position?

1st, because I’ve chosen simplified tests for Rounds 1, 2 and 3.  The photographs were more or less ideal for the tests and the masking procedures utilized only the basic or primary tools of the plugins.  Primatte, for example, includes an array of tweaking tools which were not employed in Rounds 1 and 3, a definite disadvantage when these tools are not utilized.

2nd, I felt that, since time is money for most photographers, I deliberately spent as little time and effort as I reasonably could to produce the masks for the 1st three Rounds.  I am familiar with all 3 plugins, so I do not believe I short-changed any of them, and I don’t believe most photographers would want to spend more time than I did in Rounds 1 through 3 in order to make their masks.  ( I work painstakingly slowly enough as it is. )

3rd, I wanted to give Primatte a fair shake.  It seemed that by choosing not to use their extra tools in Rounds 1 and 3, I might be creating a scenario in which Primatte could not put its best foot forward.

4th, I wanted to use test samples shot with less than ideal lighting.

5th, I wanted to use one or two sets of more difficult to mask hair than were utilized in Rounds 1, 2 and 3.

One last chance to give everyone a fair and level opportunity to strut their stuff.

The first test photo was shot with no lighting on the green background and only a single Photogenic strobe for the subject.  Following the original are the test results for Primatte, Fluid Mask and Mask Pro.





All three plugins produced decent results from a less than ideal photograph.  Fluid Mask, as it has in all three previous Rounds, produced more detail, but this time it also produced a bit of noise around the image.  Mask Pro also produced fairly good detail, but it too  produced noise, and more of it than Fluid Mask.  Primatte’s image was the cleanest with no perceptible noise.  Primatte also produced slightly less detail.

The next test photo was also shot with no lighting on the green background and with only a single Photogenic strobe for lighting the subject.  Following the original are the test results for Primatte, Fluid Mask and Mask Pro.





In this test, Mask Pro,  Primatte and Fluid Mask all performed well.  On close examination, you can find more detail in the Fluid Mask hair, but slightly more green as well than in the Primatte and Mask Pro examples. 

The 3rd test photo was also shot with no lighting on the green background and with only a single Photogenic strobe for lighting the subject.  I chose this image for the test because the subject is blonde and the lighting is a little on the low side, especially of the sides of the face where good definition is important for masking and minimizing green spill.  Following the original are the test results for Primatte, Fluid Mask and Mask Pro.





Well! Primatte finally looks like a winner here.  It did require two hits on the “spill sponge” tool to reduce the amount of green that was visible after the mask was initially created, but the final result is pretty good.

And this time, the surprise is that Fluid Mask brought along a lot of green.  Actually, that shouldn’t really be a surprise, because the extra green is the trade-off for the extra definition visible in most of the Fluid Mask test photos.  In addition, Fluid Mask does not contain a mechanism for removing green spill or other color contamination.

Mask Pro also produced a very acceptable mask.  There is excellent detail visible, and most of the green spill has been automatically removed.  All that was required to remove most of the green contamination was to check the “use color decontamination” box in the “magic brush” tool options palette.  Note:  the only place you can tell Mask Pro to decontaminate is in the magic brush options palette, and it is easy to overlook.

One of the beauties of Primatte is that it is both actionable and batchable in PhotoShop.  If you are working with a group of photos shot against the same background under the same lighting conditions and, most importantly, of the same subject, you can do a lot of work in a short time.  In my tests, it took about 80% less time to produce a subsequent mask once the initial keep-delete parameters had been established.  Plus, you can walk away while the work is being done!  Check out the batching and action info at: www.digitalanarchy.com/primatte/primatte_t-action.html.  There is a “how to” pdf file at the same link.

Primatte is therefore a great tool if you’re shooting against green or blue backgrounds and can take advantage of its batching capability.  You save a lot of time and trade off only a little detail.

Mask Pro does not offer a batching capability, but it does retain the settings for a previous mask.  This means you can jump into creating the mask without having to establish new keep-drop settings.  A great time saver.  ( Mask Pro also offers six views of the mask as it is being constructed, compared to three for Primatte and two for Fluid Mask. )

Fluid Mask automatically analyses each image and therefore offers neither a memory of previous settings nor a batching capability.

Conclusion:  my preference is Fluid Mask and for most of my work, it is my first choice.  I’ve shot multi-subject jobs and batched the masks in Primatte, but each time the subject changes, the results become problematic.  And for portraiture work, I avoid green backgrounds whenever possible.  Removing the color spill from hair and skin is often time consuming and annoying, especially if the subject is blonde and the skin tone is light.  As a result, Primatte has limited applicability for me.

As for Mask Pro, I find that it produces more hair detail than Primatte, but slightly less hair detail than Fluid Mask, and it takes greater effort to accomplish the task.  However, once you establish the keep-drop parameters for an initial image, you can work very quickly on subsequent similar images.  In most of my work, I like to see every detail, but many photographers prefer a soft focus look in their portraits. And many others don’t want or need to see every strand of fly away hair.  Once again, that’s what the demos are for.

Bottom line for me:  Fluid Mask for speed, simplicity and detail.  Please refer to Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3 for more information.

Link to Fluid Mask download and tutorials:  www.vertustech.com/fm_tutorials.htm

Link to Mask Pro download and tutorials:  www.ononesoftware.com/tutorials_mp.html

Link to Primatte: www.digitalanarchy.com/section/section_psd.html

email me: johnyonko@gmail.com



  1. […] for Round 4 in which we’ll take the time to produce a quality mask and consider a reasonable degree of […]

    Pingback by Fluid Mask vs. Mask Pro vs. Primatte / Round 3 « Yonko Shots — May 29, 2007 @ 3:13 pm

  2. 🙂
    Thanks for the pictures

    Comment by jim — October 25, 2007 @ 7:51 am

  3. Thanks for the review. What versions were you comparing? Specifically, what version of Fluid Mask was used?

    Comment by Bob Nolin — February 26, 2008 @ 9:11 am

    • Originally began with Fluid Mask 2.0, finished up with 3.0

      Comment by johnyonko — June 19, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

  4. […] of Award Winning Plug-Ins for Adobe Photoshop hier ein Testbericht Maks pro vs Fluid Mask Fluid Mask vs. Mask Pro vs. Primatte / Round 4th & Maybe Final Yonko Shots gruss __________________ Sgit lt wo sge mir Schwizer sige e chli langsam…… jaaaaa….. […]

    Pingback by Trojaner in FluidMask 3 Software - PSD-Tutorials.de - Forum — May 18, 2008 @ 6:10 am

  5. Can you tell us the masking tools version that you are comparing?

    Comment by Syam — August 7, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

  6. Thank you! Thank you! and Thank You!!

    Comment by kb — August 31, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  7. Thanks so much for the comparison. I have a job that requires inserting various nature backgrounds. Any suggestions as to what I should shoot the models on (supposed to look like a sunny day)?

    I’ll likely get Mask Pro for this job as it seems like a good balance of what I’ll need.

    Comment by a fashion photographer — September 7, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

    • You raise a great question!

      One of the secrets of image extraction lies in placing the achieved transparency (i.e., the extracted subject) onto a background that blends with the foreground edges in such a manner as to disguise any flaws and residual color from the original background.

      For example, if your original subject was shot against a white background, you’re going to either see white and gray edges if you place the extracted subject on any dark colored background, or you may lose important detail. On the other hand, if you use a mottled, muted sky with clouds and light blues and grays scattered about, you will achieve a ‘perfect‘ composite image.

      Your question indicated you will be using nature scenes for your backgrounds. If that means lots of trees and/or green fields, and/or other mottled images such as mountain or valley scenes, you can use green or blue screens for your initial background.

      Another of the secrets is matching the quality and directionality of light – the best resource here is serendipity – i.e., have the good fortune to have a desirable background where the light is appropriate for your imported foreground. It may be necessary to light your subject during the shoot in such a way as to match the lighting of your planned new background. You want the finished composite to appear natural and authentic – not like a scrapbook pasteup.

      Speaking only about color and ignoring the lighting issues, here are a few ‘answers’:

      1st short answer is, shoot against a solid background color that is most invisibly blendable with the planned new background color.

      2nd short answer is, one background may not be best for all your planned new backgrounds.

      3rd answer is, the color of your initial background will always have an effect on the hair and skin tones of your subjects, and even on the colors of their clothing. Therefore, you are dealing with a number of variables that must blend into your replacement background. These variables will not be visible to you until you replace the background – then it can be like night and day.

      Best Advice: Don’t make any assumptions and don’t just jump into the job. Take one of your models and produce an image that will be typical of what you intend for your job – use any color background – then do an extraction. Import the resultant test extraction onto your various nature backgrounds, and see what happens. The more you become familiar with the problems of dealing with extracted images, the more likely you are to ‘solve’ them in advance. When I say ‘solve’, I mean solve to an acceptable degree – not to perfection.

      You may find few, if any, difficult problems. Or you may find major complications.

      There are ways to solve any problems, but they all take time, patience and practice. Send me an example of both your model and the new background – I can then be more specific.

      Comment by johnyonko — September 11, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  8. very useful extraction tests, very helpful..thanks for taking the time.

    Comment by Mark — October 7, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

  9. http://www.downloadbuyer.com has the lowest price for Fluid Mask 3 at just £89 Inc VAT and Free delivery.

    I just thought you should know!


    Comment by bitfik — October 19, 2009 @ 8:39 am

  10. I followed this thread back as far as I could, and I have a question:What about when one is trying to mask a out a complex background? Any of these three will do a credible job of masking out a green screen.

    Comment by Don Bailey — May 23, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

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