OnOne Software’s Perfect Effects plug-in offers a huge selection of special effects which you can also combine and stack as layers. What’s more, each layer comes with its own layer mask which you can use to control the areas of the image affected.

You can ‘paint in’ a mask using regular brush tools, but Perfect Effects also has a clever gadget called the Masking Bug for creating gradient mask effects, which are often a faster and more effective approach.

To show how this works I’ve chosen this everyday landscape shot, which I’ll give a more dramatic ‘arty’ look with one of Perfect Effects’ textures.

OnOne Software Perfect Effects Masking Bug

01 Texture options

OnOne Software Perfect Effects Masking Bug

I’ve chosen the Grunge Vignette Dark preset from the list of presets on the left of the screen, and this has been added as a new layer in the Effects Stack panel on the right. Underneath is the Effect Options panel, and here I’ve chosen a different texture, choosing the ‘Earth’ texture instead.

02 The Masking Bug

OnOne Software Perfect Effects Masking Bug

In the top left corner of the window you’ll see four tools – the Masking Bug is the second one down (circled), and if you select this and then click on the image, a Masking Bug will appear (also circled), and you use the ‘antennae’ to adjust the bug properties.

03 Change the angle

OnOne Software Perfect Effects Masking Bug

To start with, the Masking Bug was creating a vertical gradient – the centre of the image is masked, but the left and right edges show the effect. I want a horizontal masking effect, so I drag either of the two short antennae around to tilt the gradient effect. When an antenna is selected, it turns blue. As you adjust the antennae, the Masking Bug area is shown as a grid to help you align and position it. In fact, I think I want the Masking Bug at a slight angle to follow the edge of the sloping hillside.