Applying Adjustments using a Linear Gradient Mask Pro

Gradient / Layer Adjustment / Mask

The Draw Linear Gradient Mask feature enables you to create a mask with a gradual transition in opacity between two end points. With an adjustment applied, such as a negative exposure correction, the effect is similar to applying an optical graduated filter.

Overview Pro

The Draw Linear Gradient Mask is applied in a non-destructive fashion, meaning that you can always readjust the length, position and rotation of the gradient mask after the fact. This feature is particularly useful when copying the Linear Gradient Mask to other similar images where you only want to tweak the position or coverage on some of the images.

The Linear Gradient Mask consistent of three lines:

  1. The starting line represents a 100 percent mask coverage and will thus provide a full effect of the selected image adjustment.
  2. The center line represents a 50 percent mask coverage and will provide a 50% effect of the applied image adjustment. The center line is also used to rotate the gradient.
  3. The end line represents a transition to 0 percent mask coverage and will end the image adjustment effect. Think of the end line as a way to control the feathering of the mask.

Although the typical use of the Linear Gradient Mask will be to adjust the exposure of a sky, you can combine Exposure or Highlight adjustments with Clarity or Color Balance adjustments, for example. It is also worth to mention that you can fade the overall effect with the Opacity slider for the Linear Gradient Mask layer.

Creating a Linear Gradient Mask Pro

Creating a graduated filter effect is simple. Select the Draw Linear Gradient Mask cursor from the Layers tool, Cursor Toolbar, or use the keyboard shortcut G. Then click and drag in the Viewer to draw the gradient mask. The place you click first will apply a 100% mask coverage, and the gradient will then fade to 0% coverage at the point you stop dragging and let go of the mouse. You can apply the desired image adjustment before or after drawing the mask.

Since the Draw Linear Gradient Mask is applied in a non-destructive fashion, you can always readjust the linear gradient position, rotation and length after the fact by clicking and dragging the end lines. This will be explained later on.

  1. Go to the Layers tool.
  2. Long press the Draw Mask icon and select Draw Linear Gradient Mask (G) from the drop-down menu, or use the keyboard shortcut G.
  3. To view the mask as an overlay while drawing the gradient mask, go to the menu and select Layer > Mask Visibility > Always Display Mask or use the keyboard shortcut M, which will toggle the mask overlay on/off.
  4. Click and drag the cursor over the desired image area in the Viewer. A new mask and layer are automatically created. The transition in opacity will go from 100% where you first clicked on the image and gradually fade to zero where you release the cursor.
  5. Make the desired image adjustments, for example, select a -1.0 EV Exposure adjustment. Use the keyboard shortcut M to toggle the mask overlay off, if it is on.
  6. The gradient mask can also be copied and applied to other images from the Layers tool.

Note that only one gradient mask can be applied to a layer at a time, so please create a new layer if you need more than one. Although you can’t alter the opacity of the mask itself, you can fade the effect afterwards using the master Opacity slider.

Tip: Set the mask visibility to Layer > Mask Visibility > Only Display Mask When Drawing and make your image adjustment (like a negative Exposure when darkening overexposed skies) before applying the gradient. Then start to draw the gradient mask. This way you can see where the mask is being applied while you drag in the Viewer, and then see the effect of the image adjustment immediately when you let go as the mask overlay will disappear automatically.

Editing the Linear Gradient Mask Pro

If you want to edit the Linear Gradient Mask, ensure that you have selected the correct layer in the Layers tool and that you have selected Draw Linear Gradient Mask (G). You can now move the start line or end line by dragging them, rotate the mask by hovering the mouse over the center line and dragging, or reposition the entire mask.

You can even adjust the distance from the start or end line to the center line independently by holding down Alt while dragging them. This way you can adjust the transition zone from 100% to 50% mask to cover a large area while the transition zone from 50% to 0% can be short.

  1. Go to the Layers tool and select the layer with a Linear Gradient Mask.
  2. Long press the Draw Mask icon and select Draw Linear Gradient Mask (G) from the drop-down menu, or use the keyboard shortcut G.
  3. Click on the start line or end line and drag them to adjust the gradient coverage. Hold down Alt to be able to adjust the start line or end line independently of the other; the center line will stay put and only the selected coverage zone will change.
  4. You can rotate the mask by hovering the mouse over the center line (the cursor will change to a rotate icon) and drag up or down. Hold down Shift while dragging to lock the rotation to angles of 45-degree increments.
  5. It is possible to reposition the entire mask by hovering the mouse anywhere over the gradient mask (the cursor will change to a move icon) and dragging it to a new position.

Useful keyboard shortcuts

  • Hold down Shift while creating the Linear Gradient Mask to lock the rotation to angles of 45-degree increments.
  • Click on a layer and hold down Command/Ctrl to reposition the mask without the need to have the Draw Linear Gradient Mask cursor selected.
  • Hold down Alt while dragging either the start line or the end line to adjust the two mask transition zones independently.
  • Hold down Shift while dragging either the start line or the end line to resize the mask symmetrically (the center line will stay put).
  • Hold down Shift while dragging the center line to lock the rotation to angles of 45-degree increments.

Inverting the Linear Gradient Mask Pro

You can invert the Linear Gradient Mask which basically flip the mask coverage. It keeps the non-destructive nature, meaning that you can readjust the inverted Gradient Mask by moving it, dragging the start line or the end line to new positions, or rotate it.

  1. Select the layer with the Linear Gradient Mask in the Layers tool
  2. Right-click and select Invert Mask or choose Layer > Invert Mask.
  3. You can now readjust position, coverage and rotation is you see fit (see above).

Using Brush on the gradient mask Pro

If you want to edit the Linear Gradient Mask with the brush by either adding or removing areas of the mask, it will need to be rasterized first. This operation basically changes the mask to be pixel-based, meaning that you cannot readjust the gradient after the fact. The resulting mask will then be the same type as if you were using the Draw Mask feature (or created a Gradient Mask in Capture One 11 and earlier).

  1. Go to the Layers tool and select the layer with a Linear Gradient Mask.
  2. Long press the Draw Mask icon and select Draw Mask (B) or Erase Mask (E) from the drop-down menu, or use the keyboard shortcuts B or E.
  3. Click on the image in the viewer to start editing the mask. Capture One will now alert you that you are about to rasterize the mask. Accept by clicking on Rasterize.
  4. You can now add or remove areas by painting with the brush, depending on whether you have chosen Draw Mask (B) or Erase Mask (E).

Note that you can also rasterize the Linear Gradient Mask directly by right-clicking on the layer in question in the Layers tool and selecting Rasterize Mask or choose Layer > Rasterize Mask.