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Apply a “Pinch Curve” to Tighten a Layer Mask

Howdy & Hello! As Photoshop continues to improve, our digital workflows become more efficient as we replace old techniques with new features. How many of you have embraced the Refine Edge dialogue commands, or the Adjustment & Masking panels? If you’ve been reading Michael Hoffman’s articles here at TipSquirrel there should be no doubt about the usefulness of those improved features. What happens when you’re put in front of an older version of Photoshop WITHOUT those cool new features? A smart person has TipSquirrel bookmarked because you never know when you’ll need an old school technique. Let’s take a look at how to use a “pinch curve” to choke in a layer mask in Photoshop.

NOTE – I cannot take credit for this technique as it was taught to me by the wonderfully talented master retoucher David Vaught from Vaught Studio.

1. In the image below I have isolated the bottles from the background using a layer mask. You can see there is a halo around the bottles–the white fringe–which is a possibility depending on how the selection was made & layer mask created. In Photoshop CS4 & CS5, you could simply adjust the layer mask by using the Masks panel, and Refine Mask. But what if you’re not working with a newer version of Photoshop?

2a. Start by selecting the layer mask thumbnail of the bottles. With the layer mask selected, goto Image–>Adjustments–>Curves (CMD+M on Mac, CTRL+M on PC). The image below is the “pinch curve” for an RGB image. Applying this curve to the layer mask chokes in the white area–the part of the layer being revealed–effectively reducing the halo.

2b. The following image is a CMYK “pinch curve” which also chokes in the white areas of the layer mask.

3. The resulting image with halo reduced. Quick & easy, no new Photoshop features required. My thanks to David Vaught for enlightening all of us with this useful technique.

About AJ Wood (26 Articles)
Instructor • Photographer • Life Enthusiast. A former Adobe Community Professional, A.J. currently works as an Adobe employee a testament to his dedication to the creative community. Connect with A.J. on <a href="http://ajwood.com/facebook">Facebook</a>, <a href="http://ajwood.com/youtube">YouTube</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/+AJWood?rel=author">Google+</a> & <a href="http://ajwood.com/twitter">Twitter</a>

2 Comments on Apply a “Pinch Curve” to Tighten a Layer Mask

  1. This is one awesome collection. One of my favorites I have seen in a long time. Thanks for sharing

  2. Great color correction tutorial using Curves!

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