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SELECTIONS: Pen Tool Mask Selection

Masks made with the Pen tool can be adjusted with the Subselect tool until you get a perfect fit around the object you are selecting. If you ever need to start over, all you need to do is delete the masking shape and have another go. The whole thing remains editable until you export the image. To start:

  • Choose File > Open
  • Browse to the PVII_PhotoMagic directory on your hard drive.
  • Locate the beer_glass.jpg file and click on it to select it.
  • Click on Open

beer glass
Figure1: Beer glass photo Ernest von Rosen, AMG Media

It’s a big image, but that makes plotting points with the Pen tool easier. The image is also a bit off the vertical. Let’s straighten it before beginning the Pen tool selection exercise.

  • Click on the image to select it, and then choose Modify > Transform > Numeric Transform.
  • Choose the Rotate option. Try a 1.5 degree clockwise rotation to begin with, and then readjust the degree of rotation if you believe it is necessary.
  • Type 1.5 into the rotation value box.
  • Click on OK to accept the changes and close the dialog box.

Figure2: The Numeric Transform dialog box

  • Choose Modify > Canvas > Trim Canvas to reset the image bounding box.

Before you begin, you’ll set up the Pen tool to display path segments in the same way the Polygon lasso tool does.

  • Choose Edit > Preferences, and then click on the Editing tab.
  • Under Pen Tool Options, check Show pen preview and, Show solid points.
  • Click OK to accept the changes and close the dialog box.

TIP: Show Pen preview causes the tip of the pen to spin out a blue line between points. Show solid points causes plotted points to be solid blue, and active points to appear hollow.

  • Click on the Pen tool to select it.
  • In the Property inspector, set the Fill to none, and the Stroke to 1- Pixel Soft. Set the stroke color to blue #0000FF.

pen tool
Figure3: Selecting the Pen tool

Begin outlining the glass with the Pen tool, clicking in an uninterrupted succession of segments, and staying on the outline of the glass. When you return to your starting point, a small circle appears next to the pen cursor to let you know that the next click will close the path. That takes care of the outline of the glass. Now you need to do the hole between the handle and the body of the glass.

  • Deselect the Pen tool by clicking on the Pointer tool (black arrow).
  • In the Layers panel, hide the tracing of the glass

Note: It is necessary to deselect the Pen tool before drawing a second shape with it so that Fireworks knows that you are plotting a new shape.

  • Select the Pen tool again and plot points around the inside of the glass handle.
  • When you have returned to your beginning point, click on it to close the path.

inside the glass handle
Figure4: Plotting points inside the glass handle

To join the two plotted paths together into one shape, unhide the glass shape, click on the pointer tool, and,

  • Press Shift and select both pen tool outlines.
  • Choose Modify > Combine Paths > Punch.
  • With the punched shape still selected, click inside the Fill color box of the Property inspector to open the Swatches pop-up.
  • Choose white for the fill color.

To mask out the image background with the white vector shape, Press Shift and select both the image and the vector shape...

  • Choose Modify > Mask > Group as Mask.

If you need to refine the mask edges to more perfectly match the outline of the glass, there is a way to simplify the process by changing all the straight segments into curved ones with control handles.

  • Open the Layers panel and click on the Bitmap thumbnail of the mask group.

Clicking on the bitmap thumbnail highlights both the thumbnail and the plotted path in bright green.

the path is highlighted in green
Figure5: The bright green highlight

  • Choose Modify > Alter Path > Simplify. Set the simplify amount to 3 or more, and then click on OK to close the dialog box
  • Change the canvas color to whichever one makes it easiest for you to see both the glass outline and the green path.
  • Click on the Subselection tool to select it.

correcting the mask outline
Figure6: Correcting the mask outline

  • Use the Subselection tool to refine the path by dragging on the Bezier points and control handles.
  • Once you’ve finished adjusting the outline, remove the background color.

finished mask group
Figure7: The finished selection

Your image is ready for further manipulation, or for Optimizing and Exporting.