I have the following picture. Using Affinity Photo (version on Windows 10), I want to mask everything except the child and the green rope she stands on/is holding in her hands. Everything else (playing ground, houses, trees, sky etc.) should be masked.

What I tried: i made a selection, using Selection Brush Tool as well as Flood Select Tool, than removed (cutout) the selection. You see the partial result on the second screenshot.

This alredy took almost an hour since I had to set a quite low Tolerance setting for the Flood Select Tool because otherwise, it would select too much, thus also parts that I don't want to delete. When I come closer to the rope and the child, I'm stuck as I almost have to make a pixel by pixel selection - this would take hours if not days. You can see that near the rope (red arrow) there are already pixels deleted that should be kept. The leg (other red arrow) is another difficult part.

How can such a picture be masked the way I want it?

Original picture

enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does Affinity Photo have a "reverse selection" button/feature? Rather than select everything else, why not select only what you want to keep and then reverse the selection? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, Affinity Photo does have a reverse selection feature. However, the problem is reversed: selecting the marked areas (as well as others) remains quite difficult. To select only the rope is extremely challenging. So the question remains what kind of selction tool to choose? I also tried to duplicate the image as two layers, than use a layer mask so that I can draw with black and white to (un-)mask several parts of the pictures. Works a bit better, but still a cumbersome process. \$\endgroup\$
    – babel
    Jan 11, 2021 at 8:35

1 Answer 1


Masked subject (w/ green ropes)

This might not be the fast and convenient answer you're looking for but IMO this is the only way to get a clean selection of your subject:

  1. Use the Pen Tool to draw a path just on the inside edge of what you want to keep. In the case of this image I had to draw three paths which I then combined using the Layer > Geometry actions.
  2. Then offer the newly created path to the image layer as a mask.
  3. Open the Layer effects panel for that path and set the Gaussian Blur property to 0.2 px (which smooths the edges slightly)
  4. Add another mask layer above the path layer and use the Paint Brush Tool to remove any unwanted areas which are too vague for a path (such as the one strand of hair that separates from the rest).

This is a somewhat uncommon technique as you would normally use the path to create a selection and then refine that selection and finally output it as a mask but personally, I like the fact that you still have the flexibility of the path/vector to tune the curves of the selection.


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