Tip : Masking in Silver Efex Pro 2

I have been using the Nik Sofware plugins for a number of years, I paid for them long before the company was bought by Google and long before they became free. If you still don’t know about this great set of plugins for lightroom and photoshop, go and download them here : https://www.google.com/nikcollection/

The two plugins I use the most are Color Efex Pro 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2. The unique “u-point” system is fabulous for applying changes to a selected part of your photo. By adding a Control Point anywhere in the picture, a mask is automatically made based on colour and brightness of the point you clicked on. The edge detection is good but very often in Colour Efex Pro 4, I find myself adding negative control points around my subject to better define the mask. However, in Silver Efex Pro 2 there are no + and – control points.

In Color Efex Pro 4:  cep_control

In Silver Efex Pro 2 : sep2_control

I discovered a workaround recently that I would like to share with you. I’ll use it in a real world example : transforming the damselfly above in a high-key black and white photo.

Silver Efex Pro has two high key. I chose the High Key 2 preset and pushed the brightness and dynamic brightness a little.


The background is nice but the damselfly is too bright. I need to select the insect without selecting any background or stalk. By placing a couple of control points on the insect I get this:


To see the mask, scroll down the tools on the right hand side until you see the list of control points, then click on the “Show/hide selection for all Control Points”


Move around the Control Points until everything you need to select is white. Don’t bother if the rest of the picture lights up, we’ll sort that out after. When done, group all the Control Points into a single Point by clicking on the “Group button”


Once that is done, with the mask showing, the magic starts ! Every new point you add will substract from the mask. So add a load of points all around your subject until it is well defined, don’t hesitate to add as many as necessary. We won’t do anything with these points, they are just there to help define the mask.  You should end up with something like this:


To finish my picture, I clicked again on “Show/hide selection for all Control Points” then I selected the grouped Control Point and reduced the brightness, ajusted the Structure,  Amplify Whites and Amplify Blacks sliders et voilà !!


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