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Fluid Mask 3 stands on its own

New version of the Photoshop plug-in for selecting objects in images now has multiprocessor support and functions as a standalone application.

Vertus, the Boston-based developer of technology designed to ease the selection of specific elements in a digital photo, has released version 3 of its Fluid Mask software, the first time the product has been able to run as a standalone application and not just as a Photoshop plug-in.

It's tough to separate fuzzy hair from its background.
It's tough to separate fuzzy hair from its background. Vertus

Fluid Mask 3, costing $239, attempts to reproduce some of the human mind's ability to naturally distinguish an element from its background, a task that's tricky when backgrounds are complicated or the element's border isn't well defined. The common but notorious example is hair.

The new version includes new edge-detection technology and new modes for blending selected areas and their backgrounds. Multiprocessor support speeds tasks by about 40 percent. Users can save settings for particular images for reuse later. And users can apply changes just to particular patches instead of to the whole image.

Photoshop includes its own selection, or masking, technology, and the new CS3 version includes a significant advancement in that area. But plug-in makers try to stay a step ahead of what's generally available.

Fluid Mask 3 is available as a stand-alone product or as a plug-in to Adobe Photoshop CS2 and CS3 or Adobe Photoshop Elements. It works on Windows XP and Vista and Apple's on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs.