Applying local adjustments with Draw Mask Pro

Brush / Layers / Mask

Capture One’s Layers tool enables you to directly brush in adjustments on-screen in real-time. Find out about the brush and its settings.

Brushing in adjustments

When a simple localized adjustment is required, you can brush in the effect directly. This technique is particularly useful, for example, when adding sharpening or clarity, or you're making some simple exposure adjustments. More complex adjustments such as "dodging and burning" can also be performed this way. Note, however, that when applying positive and negative exposure adjustments, a layer for each is required. See the section on Layers and Masks for more information.

  1. Select the brush from the following:
    • Shortcut Draw Mask (B).
    • Mask Cursor group (fourth group from the right) in the Cursor tool bar. Press and hold active Add/Erase Mask Mask cursor to display the menu and select Draw Mask (B).
    • From the foot bar in the Layers tool (second group from the left). Press and hold active Add/Erase Mask button to display the menu and select Draw Mask (B).
  2. Modify the brush parameters as required. See below for more information on Brush Settings.
  3. To see the effect of the adjustment on-screen when brushing, from the Layers tool’s foot bar (second group from the left). Press and hold button to display the menu and select Never Display Mask (M) from the menu.
  4. Before brushing, select an adjustment tool and set the parameter slider to a particular value. For example, add a +0.6 EV Exposure adjustment.
  5. Brush in the local adjustment as required. The image is updated in the Viewer with the applied adjustment.
  6. To remove any unwanted areas of the mask, long press the Brush icon and select Erase (E) from the menu. Modify the Brush Settings as necessary and carefully brush away parts of the mask to tidy up. 
  7. For a quick ‘before and after’ view of the applied adjustment, toggle the orange check-mark adjacent to the relevant layer in Layers tool.

Brushing away adjustments

When you want add an adjustment to all but a small section of the image, you can create a New Filled Layer and then use the easer brush (E) to brush the mask or adjustment away from the area you want to exclude. To see the effect on a directly applied adjustment on-screen, select the relevant adjustment and Never Display Mask (M) from the Mask Selection menu, before brushing away. The edge detection feature of the Auto Mask can be a useful option to include when using the erase brush. 

  1. From either the Layers tool or the Viewer’s tool bar, long-press on the New Layer button (+ icon) and select New Filled Layer from the menu. An Adjustment Layer is automatically created with a mask covering the whole image.
  2. From the Layers tool's foot bar, long-press on the Add/Erase Mask button and select Erase Mask (E), if not already selected. Repeat and select Never Display Mask (M).
  3. Modify the erase brush parameters before editing the mask. To open the Brush Settings dialog window, either click-on the slider icon in the Layers tool or ctrl/right-click in the Viewer.
  4. Select an adjustment tool and set the parameter as required. For example, add a +0.6 EV Exposure adjustment.
  5. Brush away the mask or adjustment. The image is updated in the Viewer with the modification.
  6. To brush back areas of the mask or adjustment, long press the Add/Erase Mask button and select Draw Mask (B) from the menu. Modify the Brush Settings as necessary and carefully brush in parts of the mask to tidy up.
  7. For a quick "before and after" view of the applied adjustment, toggle the orange check-mark adjacent to the relevant layer in the Layers tool.

Editing brush strokes

Although you can remove any unwanted part of the mask by selecting the erase brush (E) and brushing over the semi-transparent red areas, as you would typically in an Adjustment Layer, there are times when you want to start-over. Rather than deleting the layer, or clearing the mask, if the selection is relatively small and simple, it may be quicker to delete the selection using the undo command repeatedly and brush in a new one.

  1. To display the mask when you want to verify the undo command, press shortcut (M).
  2. To remove a brush stroke, click-on the Undo button (left-pointing curved arrow icon) in the main tool bar. Contiguously applied brush strokes can be deleted by repeatedly pressing the Undo button.

Modifying size and hardness

The Size slider naturally adjusts the size of the brush stroke, while the Hardness slider controls the feathering of the brush edge - the amount is displayed on-screen between the size of the outer and inner rings of the brush or eraser cursor. Drag the slider to the left (towards 0) to increase feathering, or to the right to decrease the effect. When a hard edge is required without any feathering, select a value of 100 (%). This is the maximum hardness that can be applied.

You can switch quickly between the Brush and Erase tools by using the keyboard shortcuts (B) and (E). Brush and eraser settings may be linked and synchronized, so that one stroke erases the other using the same Size and Hardness values.

  1. Select the Brush by clicking-on the brush icon in the Layers tool, or from the Cursor tool bar.
  2. Click on the Brush Settings button (slider icon), or alternatively Ctrl/Right-click anywhere in the image Viewer for quick access. The Brush Settings panel opens.
  3. To adjust the size and feathering (hardness) of the brush adjust the two sliders;
    • Size - Drag the slider to the right to increase while viewing the effect on the Brush/Eraser cursor in the Viewer. Alternatively, press [ or ] keys to decrease or increase the Brush size respectively, enter text directly in the value box, or select and use the arrow keys or Shift-arrow keys to values by fixed values.
    • Hardness -Drag the slider to the right to increase hardness while viewing the effect on the Brush/Eraser cursor in the Viewer. Alternatively, press Shift+[ or Shift+] keys to decrease or increase respectively.

Modifying Opacity and Flow

The Opacity controls the density or strength of the stroke. A value of 0 (%) effectively disables the slider and prevents the application of the mask, while 100 (%) applies the maximum amount. In most cases the setting can be left at 100 (%).

The Flow setting controls the rate at which the Opacity is applied, with 0 (%) also effectively disabling the application of the mask and 100 (%) being the maximum amount that can be applied per stroke to an area.

When the Airbrush option is enabled, providing the mouse button remains depressed (or if using a pressure-sensitive pen, the nib remains in contact with the tablet surface), the opacity will reach the value set, including any selected Hardness or feathering (i.e. to the outer edge) of the brush.

As an example, when the Opacity is set to 100% and 20% Flow is selected, 20% of the opacity of the mask is applied per stroke, until the maximum 100% level is reached. This can be achieved through additional strokes (four more in this instance), or, when the Airbrush option is enabled, through continued pressure of the mouse or pen. No number of strokes or pressure after that can increase the Opacity beyond 100%.

  1. Select the Brush icon in the Layers tool, or from the Cursor tool bar. 
  2. Click on the Brush Settings button (slider icon), or alternatively Ctrl/Right-click anywhere in the image Viewer for quick access. The Brush Settings panel opens.
  3. Adjust the opacity of the brush stroke; drag the Opacity slider to the right to increase the amount. You can view the effect on-screen, if the option to view the mask is enabled, see more here.
  4. Adjust the rate or Flow slider, as required. 
  5. Drag the cursor on-screen to start applying the mask to the layer (unless otherwise selected, an Adjustment layer will be created).
  6. To draw a perfectly straight line, hold down the shift key and draw.
  7. To draw a straight line between two points, click on the first point then release and then shift-click on the second.

Enable pen pressure support

Capture One Pro can detect the pressure applied when using any type of interactive stylus for a graphics tablet. A stylus is typically pressure-sensitive and when the Use Pen Pressure option in the Brush tool is enabled, the harder you press down on the nib, the wider the brush stroke and therefore the mask will be. The mask gradually expands from the center of the brush tool outwards to the outer limit of the cursor ring, defined by the hardness slider. This feature includes both the nib and eraser, if it has one.

When a stylus pen features a built-in eraser at the opposite end to the nib, the selection is typically pre-programmed and there’s no need to select Capture One’s Eraser (E) option. If that’s not the case you can usually customize the stylus software and assign that and any side-buttons to Capture One’s shortcuts.

  1. Select the Brush by clicking-on the brush icon in the Layers tool or from the Cursor tool bar.
  2. Right click anywhere in the image Viewer or click on the Brush Settings button (slider icon) in the Layers tool.
  3. A Brush Settings window will appear.
  4. Now check mark the Use Pen Pressure option box.

Enabling edge detection

The Auto Mask allows you to make highly complex selections with the brush, based on areas of similar color and brightness, and is highly effective over short, single strokes. It is ideal when drawing masks of complex subjects, however, it can also be used for quick selections where boundaries are well-defined, such as a clear blue sky in a cityscape, or where an object with contrasting color in front of a plain background has been used in a studio. 

When masking complex areas prior to applying adjustments, it is recommended to work along the edges at high magnifications using a series of single short-strokes, moving around the perimeter until the selection is complete. You can then use either the Fill Mask option or continue to use brush to complete the selection. Note that, the Auto Mask option also works with the Eraser (E), where it’s useful for editing masks made with the Brush tool.

  1. Select the Brush (B) icon in the Layers tool, or from the Cursor tool bar.
  2. Right click anywhere in the image Viewer, or click on the Brush Settings icon. The Brush Settings panel opens.    
  3. Check mark the Auto Mask option box, to enable the feature.

Shortcuts for working with the brush tool

Regularly using keyboard shortcuts will dramatically improve your workflow when working with layers and when making selections.

  • Switch quickly between the Brush and Erase tools by using the keyboard shortcuts (B) and (E) respectively.
  • Toggle the display the mask overlay on or off, using shortcut (M).
  • To draw a perfectly straight line, hold down the shift key and draw.
  • To draw a straight line between two points, click on the first point then release and then shift-click (hold down the shift key then click the mouse/pen) on the second.
  • Quickly adjust the size of the brush. Press [ or ] to decrease or increase the brush size respectively.
  • To move the mask in one piece using the brush tool, select the Cmd/Ctrl key (Mac/Windows) and click on the mask and drag into position.
  • To move the mask layer selection point, hold down the Alt key and drag to the chosen position.