InstantMask Makes It Easier to Snip Digital Images

One huge advantage of digital photography is that you can endlessly play with your photographic creations. If you like to make collages, though, you might prefer scissors to the often-tedious task of carefully clipping a figure from a digital photo. The freeware InstantMask utility from Clipping Path Studio makes this chore far less difficult.

InstantMask screenshot
Instant Mask doesn't require you to be terribly precise with your marker lines; it can trim the image with even a vague guide.

This single-purpose tool lets you rapidly select which portions of a photo (in the JPG, BMP, or PNG file formats) you want to keep and which you want to discard, using a "keep marker" and "remove marker" tool to draw lines around the desired photo subject. You don't have to carefully trace around the subject's outline: Just encircle the subject with the "remove marker" (which makes a red line as you click-drag the tool in the image) then loop the "keep marker" (which draws a green line) over the top of the subject. When you're done, you can preview the effect, making additional "keep" and "remove" markings as needed to clean up any stray portions of the image you want or don't want, as the case may be.

What you end up with is a perfectly trimmed image with just your subject in a plain white background. You can then select it with a magic wand tool in Photoshop, then cut and paste it into other photos to make a digital photo collage. But this free tool is a completely no-frills product: It can't, for instance, undo any mistakes you make with the "marker" tools, so if your hand slips and you mark a portion of the image with the wrong marker, you might have to start over from scratch. For $30, a Pro version gives you far more control over the final result, including the ability to specify a background color (or make the background transparent) in the final cropped image. But for basic photo-trimming tasks, the free version of InstantMask might be just the tool you need.

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