Target a specific color using a color mask

A color mask isolates a particular color in the image. You can apply a color mask to a clip to correct a specific color, or to exclude that color from corrections to the rest of the image, or both. For example, you could mute a brightly colored shirt in the background that distracts attention from a clip’s main subject.

Add a color mask to a color correction

  1. Add a color correction to a clip in the Timeline.

  2. If the Video inspector is not already visible, do one of the following:

    • Choose Window > Show Inspector (or press Command-4).

    • Click the Inspector button in the toolbar.

      Inspector button
  3. Click the Video button at the top of the Inspector pane to open the Video inspector.

    The Video inspector appears with the Color Correction in the Effects section.

    Viewer and Video inspector showing a clip with a color correction applied
  4. Move the pointer over the Color Correction bar in the Effects section and click the Apply Effect Masks button .

    Effects list in the showing a color correction and the Apply Effect Masks button
  5. In the pop-up menu that appears, choose Add Color Mask.

    The Color Mask parameter appears in the same section of the Video inspector, and the pointer changes to the eyedropper tool.

  6. In the Viewer, position the eyedropper on a color in the image that you want to isolate, and drag to select the color.

    Color Mask eyedropper being dragged over Viewer

    As you drag, two concentric circles appear. The size of the outer circle determines the range of color that is included in the color mask. As you change the outer circle size, the image becomes monochrome except for the color you’re selecting. You can drag a new selection circle as many times as you like to try for better results.

    Note: After you stop dragging, you see the effects of the color mask as soon as you start making adjustments in the Color Board. You can then return to the Video inspector and use the eyedropper to make any adjustments to the color mask.

  7. To change the range of color included in the mask, do any of the following:

    • To add color shades: Hold down the Shift key, position the eyedropper on a color you want to add to the mask, and drag to select the color.

    • To subtract color shades: Hold down the Option key, position the eyedropper on a color you want to remove from the mask, and drag to select the color.

  8. To adjust the color mask edges, drag the Softness slider in the Video inspector.

    Tip: To view the mask alpha channel while adjusting the Softness slider, hold down the Command key.

  9. To view the color mask alpha channel, click View Masks (next to the effect name).

    The mask’s alpha channel appears in the Viewer. White indicates fully opaque mask areas, black indicates areas outside the mask, and levels of gray indicate transparent mask areas.

    Viewer and Video inspector showing the Mask alpha channel of a clip
  10. To adjust the color correction settings for the selected color, click the Color Board button in the Video inspector.

  11. Do one of the following:

    • To apply a color correction to the selected color: Click Inside.

      Inside and Outside Mask buttons in Color Board
    • To apply a color correction to everything except the selected color: Click Outside.

    You can make corrections to both the inside and outside areas of the mask—each area effectively has its own complete set of Color Board controls. For example, you could select Inside Mask and enhance the targeted color, and then select Outside Mask to darken everything else.

  12. Adjust the Color Board controls to create the effect you want.

    For more information about working with the Color Board, see Color correct the whole image.

To limit the area of the image affected by a color mask, you can add a shape mask. For more information, see Target specific areas using shape masks.