AKVIS SmartMask 5

Can SmartMask’s slick se­lec­tion tools make it an es­sen­tial edit­ing ex­tra?

Mac Format - - RATED - Non-de­struc­tive edit­ing Mul­ti­ple view modes Pow­er­ful se­lec­tion tools Limited other func­tion­al­ity

£71 (Home Deluxe)/£17 (plug-in up­grade)

De­vel­oper AKVIS, akvis.com OS OS X 10.6 or later Re­quires 64-bit pro­ces­sor With SmartMask’s pow­er­ful ded­i­cated tools, you can make per­fect selections and in­tri­cate masks with­out dam­ag­ing your orig­i­nal im­age. SmartMask has two work­ing modes, Auto and Man­ual. Auto mode lets you pick ar­eas to keep or re­move by mark­ing them out with coloured brushes. This works best on images with strong con­trast and clear back­grounds, but re­sults in our tests weren’t always per­fect. For­tu­nately, you can move across to the Man­ual mode and edit fur­ther.

Man­ual mode fea­tures two main tools: Quick Se­lec­tion and Magic Brush. Quick se­lec­tion works like a Magic Wand, al­low­ing you to paint ar­eas to se­lect and then edit, while Magic Brush al­lows you to se­lect up to ten colours via an eye drop­per to keep or re­move be­fore paint­ing them away on screen. This is a great way to cut around de­tailed ar­eas such as hair or the spines of a lizard (as seen in our test im­age); both gave ex­cel­lent re­sults in our tests, pick­ing up lots of de­tail. Both selections were also ed­itable once se­lected, which helps fine-tune them, es­pe­cially when used in con­junc­tion with other tools.

SmartMask’s view modes are use­ful be­cause you can see your im­age in split-screen as a ‘be­fore and af­ter’, with side-by-side or top-to­bot­tom views. You can also view your se­lec­tion with a trans­par­ent or coloured back­ground (like Quick Mask) or in mono­chrome (like an Al­pha chan­nel). Al­though this al­lows a great amount of flex­i­bil­ity, SmartMask still lacks that ex­tra oomph. You can’t edit your ac­tual se­lec­tion as you would with a Layer Mask in Pho­to­shop, and you still need to ex­port it to an­other im­age ed­i­tor to do any­thing more cre­ative with your fi­nal im­age. Alex Thomas

SmartMask’s ver­sa­tile se­lec­tion tools get great re­sults, but this stand­alone app would work bet­ter as a plug-in.

Cut out images by se­lect­ing par­tic­u­lar colours from the back­ground and fore­ground.

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