To mask, or not to mask. That is the question!

One of the big milestones in your Fireworks graphics expertise is the technique of using masks to isolate a portion of an image. It’s almost a right-of-passage, and it isn’t always easy to use. Fireworks has many useful methods for building image masks but this article isn’t about those—instead, it’s a method you can use that simulates a mask without the drawbacks associated with masks. And while I am not saying you shouldn’t use masks (where, oh, where would we be without them!) what I am saying is that sometimes a mask is more of a pain to use—even in Fireworks—than it needs to be.

Overview

So, if it isn’t a mask, what is it?

Fireworks contains a very useful feature for filling shapes—patterns—that few folks ever investigate because the patterns are so boring and… well… not very useful. In this article, you’ll learn how to use pattern to replace a simple mask and see how this technique can make your job easier in many instances.

Recently, I saw a post on a Fireworks Forum asking about the use of auto shapes (to make pie-shaped wedges) and masking (paste inside, though this could apply to any masking method). She wanted to experiment with images inside the pie-shaped wedges but found rebuilding the pie shapes a painstakingly boring and time-consuming process. Another experienced Fireworks user explained that you simply needed to ungroup the image and shape, replace the image, and re-group to rebuild the masked image—a much better solution, yet still time-consuming.

Masking, for better or worse

To better understand the drawbacks of masking, let’s look at the process used to fill the pie-shaped wedge with an image.


The forum user’s graphic, created with auto shapes and image masks.

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