Extractions, removing backgrounds, selections, cut-outs: Whatever you call them, it all boils down to creating a great mask in Photoshop. As this is possibly the most difficult skill to learn in Photoshop, it’s only natural to look at Photoshop masking plugins.
Photoshop Masking Plugins were quite good before Adobe released CC! Of course, at that time Adobe set the bar pretty low, and many developers stepped in to fill the gap.
But it’s 2020 now, and Photoshop CC’s Select and Mask tool is absolutely incredible. In addition, Photoshop now comes with a new and intuitive pen tool!
So, this begs the question: Are Photoshop masking plugins obsolete?
Well, let’s have a look at the contenders!
Mask Pro – Gone
Mask Pro was widely considered a top notch masking tool. However, Mask Pro was acquired by ON1 and is no longer available as a stand-alone product.
Perfect Mask – Gone
Perfect Mask was also a top contender, but just like Mask Pro, it has been gobbled up by ON1. It is no longer available for download.
Vertus Fluid Mask 3 – R.I.P. (?)
I was really looking forward to testing this plugin for a review, but lo and behold, Fluid Mask seems to have vanished right along with Vertus (no link: website has expired).
Update 4/12/2021: The Vertus website is now back online, but there does not seem to be any way to buy Fluid Mask 3!
So, where did all the good Photoshop masking plugins go?
Warning, editorial content coming up.
I think that Photoshop’s masking tool has become so good that competing against it is pretty near impossible. How do you compete against Adobe’s enormous development budget?
You don’t: You go belly up or get acquired by Adobe’s competitors (e.g. ON1).
So, what Photoshop masking plugins are left standing?
Add 100 Color Profiles to Camera Raw – FREE Download!
Grab this bundle of 100 amazing Color Profiles, perfect for instantly transforming the colors in your artwork!
You’ll find amazing Full Color and B&W Profiles in this totally free collection. Access them right inside Camera Raw!
Click the button to start your download!
The remaining Photoshop masking plugins:
ON1 Photo Raw
So, what did ON1 develop with the technology acquired from Mask Pro and Perfect Mask? They folded it into their flagship product, ON1 Photo Raw.
However, ON1 Photo RAW is a full fledged editing program rather than offering a dedicated masking plugin.
Luminar 4 is also has a masking function included, but just like ON1, it’s a full editing suite meant to have a complete workflow.
Also, the main use of their masking technology is for one-click sky replacements, so it’s not really useful when you want to extract a model from an image background. (The Luminar 4 sky replacement is super cool, btw, but that’s a topic for another time)
Topaz Mask AI
Topaz Labs has had a Photoshop masking plugin for many, many years. When Topaz revamped their plugin lineup, Topaz Mask 2 was upgraded with their AI technology and emerged as Topaz Mask AI.
I recently did a full review of Topaz Mask AI. Unfortunately I was less than impressed with the results. I concluded that if it’s between Topaz Mask AI and Photoshop Select and Mask, I’ll stick with Photoshop.
EZ Green Screen
This was one of the few other Photoshop masking plugins I could find. It get’s great reviews, but EZ Green Screen comes with the hefty price tag of $139.00!
We’ve requested a review copy and will update this page as needed.
Update 4/12/2021: We have not received a reply to our request for a review copy. We probably won’t shell out $139 any time soon just for a review. Here’s a link to a Google search result for EZ Green Screen reviews.
So, do you need a Photoshop masking plugin?
First, your options come down to a lackluster Topaz plugin, a $139 plugin, or masking tools included in larger stand-alone editing platforms.
Second, Photoshop’s Select and Mask is amazing, and with a little practice you’ll never look back at masking plugins again.
If you want to master extractions and masking in Photoshop, have a look at this Shift Art course on extractions!