Masks

Masking is an integral part of working with StarTools.

The Mask feature is an integral part of StarTools. Many modules use a mask to operate on specific pixels and parts of the image, leaving other parts intact.

Importantly, besides operating only on certain parts of the image, it allows the many modules in StarTools to perform much more sophisticated operations.

If you just loaded an image, all pixels in the whole image will be set in the mask, so every pixel will be processed by default.

You may have noticed that when you launch a module that is able to apply a mask, the pixels that are set in the mask will flash three times in green. This is to remind you which parts of the image will be affected by the module and which are not. If you just loaded an image, all pixels in the whole image will be set in the mask, so every pixel will be processed by default. In this case, when you launch a module that is able to apply a mask, the whole image will flash in green three times.

Green coloured pixels in the mask are considered 'on'. That is to say, they will be altered/used by whatever processing is carried out by the module you chose. 'Off' pixels (shown in their original colour) will not be altered or used by the active module. Again, please note that, by default all pixels in the whole image are marked 'on' (they will all appear green).

For example, an 'on' pixel (green coloured) in the Sharp module will be sharpened, in the Wipe module it will be sampled for gradient modelling, in Synth it will be scanned for being part of a star, in Heal in will be removed and healed, in Layer it will be layered on top of the background image, etc.

To recap;

  • If a pixel in mask is 'on' (coloured green), then this pixel is fed to the module for processing.
  • If a pixel in mask is 'off' (shown in original colour), then tell the module to 'keep the pixel as-is, hands off, do not touch or consider'.

Usage

The Mask Editor is accessible from the main screen, as well as from the different modules that are able to apply a mask. The button to launch the Mask Editor is labelled 'Mask'. When launching the Mask Editor from a module, pressing the 'Keep' or 'Cancel' buttons will return StarTools to the module you pressed the 'Mask' button in.

As with the different modules in StarTools, the 'Keep' and 'Cancel' buttons work as expected; 'Keep' will keep the edited Mask and return, while 'Cancel' will revert to the Mask as it was before it was edited and return.

As indicated by the 'Click on the image to edit mask' message below the image, clicking on the image will allow you create or modify a Mask. What actually happens when you click the image, depends on the selected 'Brush mode'. While some of the 'Brush modes' seem complex in their workings, they are quite intuitive to use.

Apart from different brush modes to set/unset pixels in the mask, various other functions exist to make editing and creating a Mask even easier;

  • The 'Save' button allows you to save the current mask to a standard TIFF file that shows 'on' pixels in pure white and 'off' pixels in pure black.
  • The 'Open' button allows you to import a Mask that was previously saved by using the 'Save' button. Note that the image that is being opened to become the new Mask, needs to have the same dimensions as the image the Mask is intended for. Loading an image that has values between black and white will designate any shades of gray closest to white as 'on', and any shades of gray closest to black as 'off'.
  • The 'Auto' button is a very powerful feature that allows you to automatically isolate features.
  • The 'Clear' button turns off all green pixels (i.e. it deselects all pixels in the image).
  • The 'Invert' button turns on all pixels that are off, and turns off all pixels that were on.
  • The 'Shrink' button turns off all the green pixels that have a non-green neighbour, effectively 'shrinking' any selected regions.
  • The 'Grow' button turns on any non-green pixel that has a green neighbour, effectively 'growing' any selected regions.
  • The 'Undo' button allows you to undo the last operation that was performed.

NOTE: To quickly turn on all pixels, click the 'clear' button, then the 'invert' button.


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