Capture One packs in a ton of useful tools that can save you a trip to Photoshop with many of your files. Like Photoshop, the ability to work in layers with masks sets it apart from Lightroom, and some of the methods you can use to create those masks are pretty ingenious.
Of course, there are the old stand-bys: the brush, gradient mask, and radial mask. But there are also a couple of exceptional tools thrown in the mix - luminosity masks and masking by color range. It’s worth noting that Lightroom also has a version of these features, sans the benefit of layers, and with fewer tools to use with the masks.
How To Use Luminosity Masks in Capture One
Luminosity masks map the luminosity values in an image. Luminosity masks are useful if you want to apply an adjustment to only one tonal range of an image, like a bright sky or dark foreground. Any mask in Capture One can be refined by luminosity values using the Luma Range tool.
To do that, first, create any type of mask. If you want the luminosity mask to apply to the entire image, create a new filled layer. Then, in the layers tool, click the Luma Range button. This opens a box that includes a bar that represents tonal values, handles to drag left or right on the bar to select the luminosity values to mask, and sliders to refine the mask.
Checking the “Display Mask” box will help you see the mask-in-progress by activating a red overlay. If you start with a new filled layer, before you adjust the luminosity values to mask, the whole image will show the red overlay.
The Luma Range dialog reads like a histogram or a levels adjustment - the left side represents the darkest values, and the right represents the brightest values.
To apply a mask to the darkest luminosity range, slide the upper handles toward the left. For the brightest luminosity range, push them to the right. The lower handles control falloff, or how abruptly the mask stops at the end of the selected range. To make the falloff smoother, drag the lower handle away from the upper handle, or pull them closer to the upper handle to make the falloff sharper.
There are two sliders in the Luma Range tool: Radius and Sensitivity. The Sensitivity slider determines how hard or soft the edges of the mask will be. High sensitivity gives sharper edges, and low sensitivity has softer edges. The Radius slider controls the strength of the Sensitivity slider.
To get the best view of the mask you’re creating and see precisely what all the handles and sliders are doing, try using the grayscale mask instead of the default red overlay. You can activate or deactivate the grayscale mask using the keyboard shortcut “alt/option + M.” To toggle the red mask overlay, use the “M” keyboard shortcut with no modifier key.
You can alter luminosity masks after they’ve been applied by clicking the Luma Range button again and adjusting the handles and sliders. They can also be refined with the brush and erase tools. The brush and eraser will respect the values of the luminosity mask, meaning that you can’t brush the mask onto an area that you used the Luma Range to exclude from the mask.
You can, however, use the brush and eraser on a luminosity mask if you rasterize it. Before you rasterize a luminosity mask, make sure it’s dialed in, because rasterizing will reset the Luma Range settings if you try to go back in and make changes. You can rasterize a layer mask by right-clicking the layer and selecting Rasterize Mask.
How To Use Color Masks in Capture One
Capture One’s Advanced Color Editor tool is a powerhouse in itself, and it contains a semi-hidden ability on top of everything else it does. To use the Advanced Color Editor tool, navigate to the Color tab in the Capture One workspace, then open the Color Editor Tool and click the Advanced tab within.
To create a mask from a color range, click the eyedropper tool, and use it to select a color. Checking the “view selected color range” box at the bottom of the tool will turn everything in the image that isn’t part of the selected range black and white. From there, use the color wheel to refine the chosen color. You can see the selected range as a wedge in the wheel, and you can click and drag it in multiple places to narrow down the selected color.
Once you’ve got the color range where you want it, click the three dots in the corner of the Color Editor tool and select “Create Masked Layer From Selection.” You’ll then find a new layer in the Layers tool, and if you use the keyboard shortcut “M” (red overlay mask) or “alt/option M” (grayscale mask), you’ll see a mask created from your color selection. You can further refine the mask with the brush and eraser.
With these two masking options in your pocket, you’ll be equipped to quickly and easily create and edit intricate layer masks in Capture One.