Automate Group As Mask to a Shortcut

Go Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts, from the Web Standard Set:

  1. Choose Miscellaneous
  2. Scroll to the Group As Mask command and select it
  3. Press combination of keys, I resolved on Alt + Shift + V
  4. Then click the + to add the key combination

Then OK to commit changes.

Using the same above process, assign a key combination for the Group as Mask cammand as well.

Group As Mask

As captured below, the Layers Panel (and Canvas View) contain a Bitmap Image and a Vector Path (with Fill and Stroke) properties.

The objective is to mask the Bitmap to the shape of Vector Path.

To achieve the Vector Mask:

  1. Ensure the Path is above the Bitmap Layer in the Layers Panel.
  2. With the Pointer Tool (V) active, click and drag to position the Path ‘on top’ of the Bitmap, as captured below.
  3. Then select both the Path and the Bitmap Layers.
    To multi-select: Hold Command/Ctrl key + Click the sub layers, or simply click the Layer Folder (my case ‘Background’) that contains them in the Layers Panel. Alternatively, Shift + Click directly onto the layer contents on the Canvas.
  4. Then go to the Modify > Mask > Group As Mask menu command.

Quite simple!

As captured below left, the Vector Mask is created but defaults to the Grayscale Appearance property in the Property Inspector.

Optionally, change the Mask type to Path Outlines in the Property Inspector and enable Show Fill and Stroke to bring back the original Stroke.


You know you created a Vector Mask based on the Mask thumbnail icon (encircled in red) in the Layers Panel. (Also the Property Inspector title dictates ‘Vector Mask’ when it is active.)

To activate just the Vector Mask and to access it’s Property Inspector options, simply click directly onto the Mask thumbnail and it’s contents will highlight with a green border, as captured/encircled in red below.

To adjust the Grayscale Appearance (if this is your choosen option) then click the Solid Fill color picker (encircled in red), then to Reveal All choose pure white (encircled in green), to Hide All choose pure black (encircled in blue) or any shade of gray in between for variations in opacity.

Delimit Commands in Batch

Here is a quick hack for delimiting Commands from appearing in the Batch Process list.

Situation A:

Do you make use (1) of a lot of Commands and (2) utilize Fireworks native Batch processing?

If you do, then you will quickly realize that when you get to the Batch dialog (File > Batch Process), the Commands list can get quite lengthy. At worse some Commands may just not be prime candidates for a Batch process, at all. Hence an ideal situation for the following hack.

So here is all you need to do.

  1. Browse to your apllication install default Commands folder:
    Win: C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Fireworks CS4ConfigurationCommands
    WinVista: C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Fireworks CS4ConfigurationCommands
    Mac: Hard DriveApplicationsAdobeAdobe Fireworks CS4ConfigurationCommands
  2. Open a .jsf command script file in your text editor
    3.Add the following line as the topmost line in the script file, exactly as I have below
    //–not for batch–
  3. Then Save the script file, and close it.
  4. Repeat for additional .jsf script files that reside in the Commands folder (A.1).

Now when you go to the Batch dialog, that particular item will be excluded from the Commands list.

Situation B:

Do you (1) Save History Panel steps as Commands and (2) utilize Fireworks native Batch processing?

If you do, the same situation as A applies: the Batch Commands list grows and you have orphaned entries that are not prime candidates for a Batch Process.

The same hack is applied as A, except the location of a Saved History Command file (.jsf) is in a different location.

  1. Browse to your user/custom Commands folder:
    WinXP: C:Documents and Settings[User]Application DataAdobeFireworks CS4Commands
    WinVista: C:Users[ComputerName]AppDataRoamingAdobeFireworks CS4Commands
    Mac: UsersusernameLibraryApplication SupportAdobeAdobe Fireworks CS4ConfigurationCommands
  2. Open a .jsf command script file in your text editor
    3.Add the following line as the topmost line in the script file, exactly as I have below
    //–not for batch–
  3. Then Save the script file, and close it.
  4. Repeat for additional .jsf script files that reside in the Commands folder (B.1).

NOTE: Windows: ensure Explorer > Tools > Folder Options > View¬† is set to ‘Show’ all files and folders to see the above user Commands folder (B.1).

As in situation A, now when you go to the Batch Process dialog, that particular item will be excluded from the Commands list.

Situation C:

Are you a Batch Process power user?

Batch power users have the option to save the ‘process’ as a separate Command script. See final Batch Process screen below, encircled in red.

In this regard, as in A and B, and if you decide to save it to the install Commands folder A.1., you can add the same hack to the saved .jsf batch script file for exclusion in the Batch list.

Enable Ligature Support – CS4 Tip

Fireworks CS4 does a great job with adopting the Adobe Text Engine support, for complete details refer to the Fireworks Development Center article, Working with the Adobe Text Engine in Fireworks CS4, by Arun Kaza.

One great point, amoung many, in that article is the Enable Ligitures tip.

To enable discretionary ligatures support:

Quit Fireworks CS4 if it is currently open.
Navigate to the following folder on your system:

Windows XP:
[Drive, C:]Documents and Settings[user]Application DataAdobeFireworks CS4[application language folder, such as “English”]
Windows Vista:
[Drive, C:]Users[User Name]AppDataRoamingAdobeFireworks CS4[application language folder, such as “English”]
Mac OS:
[User Name]LibraryPreferencesAdobe Fireworks CS4[application language folder, such as “en”]

Open Fireworks CS4 Preferences.txt in a text-editing program of your choice. Use the Find command to search for the following string: EnableLigatures.

As captured below, change the ‘false’ to ‘true’, Save, then close down the preferences file.

Then Open Fireworks CS4 and an associated application that has full ligiture support (I will use Illustrator).

As captured below (left – in Illustrator) a simple example that has Standard and Discretionary Ligitures enabled, from the Open Type Panel.

Then copy the Illustrator ligiture type object (Standard or Discretionary). Then in Fw CS4 (right), activate the Type Tool, click once on the canvas to add an insertion point, then Edit > Past. Fw CS4 will then paste the ligiture as created in Illustror.

You can then add to the Fw CS4 Type Object will full ligiture support. Example, below I continued adding to the ‘fifth’ example with ‘fifth act’, and the ligiture support is honored with this type object.


  • The ligiture support is only available for the current/active pasted type object. New Fw CS4 type objects will not ‘carry’ the support from the previous object.To add additional ligiture support for new FW CS4 Type objects:
    Repeat the above Copy (Illustrator)/Paste (Fw CS4) operation, or
    Use Fw ‘Clone’ command to duplicate the original pasted ligiture, or
    Use Fw Copy/Paste commands to duplicate the original pasted ligiture
  • When Copy/Pasting from Illustrator to Fw, be sure to initiate a new Fw type object first before pasting, otherwise it will be pasted as a Grouped Object.

Paste As Mask

A quick and dirty way to cut an object and paste it as a mask onto another selected object.

As captured below, two objects exist in this document – a Vector Path and an Bitmap Image.

The objective is to mask the Bitmap layer to the shape of the Vector Path.

To do that:

  1. Activate the Pointer Tool (V) on the Toolbar and select the vector Path object on the canvas (or in the Layer Panel).
  2. Position it above the image Bitmap layer, as captured below, and nnsure the Path layer is the active object.
  3. Then go Edit > Cut (or Command/Ctrl + X) to cut it from the document.
  4. You should then be just left with the remaining image Bitmap layer, as captured below (top).
  5. Next, select the Pointer Tool (V) again (if it isn’t already still active) and select the Bitmap layer to activate it, dictated by the bounding blue outline (bottom).
  6. Then go Edit > Paste As Mask (or Command/Ctrl +Option/Alt + V) to paste it back into the document.

Note: If your Paste as Mask menu command is grayed out, it’s because you have nothing selected in your document.

Instead of a normal paste operation, Fireworks creates/combines the vector Path as a mask (Vector Mask) to the underlying image Bitmap. Notice the linked/appended Mask thumbnail, with a Pen Tool icon, to the image Bitmap layer in the Layers Panel. This indicates that a Vector Mask.

Additionally, you can apply the same Select, Cut, Select and Paste As Mask of multiple objects as captured below to create interesting masks from existing shapes.

Finally, you are not restricted to creating Vector Masks using this routine.

If you select the image Bitmap layer, Cut it, Select the vector Path and then utilize the Edit > Paste as Mask command, it creates a Bitmap Mask instead, but with fewer Mask options as outlined in the Properties Inspector Panel below.

Knockout Mask with Magic Wand

Below I have an image courtesy of AbsolutVision that I wish to knockout the background – in otherwords, isloate the subject from the surroundings.

To accomplish this is to utilize a Layer Mask.

Step One: Set Magic Want Options

With the ‘Bitmap’ object Layer selected, activate the Magic Wand Tool from the toolbar, then set it’s Property Inspector options as captured.

Step Two: Select Background

With the Magic Wand still active, click once to initiate a selection.

As captured below, my first click is to the the left. Notice how not all the background is not selected!

Tip: With the Live Marquee Property Inspector option selected, adjust the Tolerance integer value, slowly, to broaden your selection.

Then hold the SHIFT key (and click) remaining areas to complete te selection, as I have captured, below.

Pay attention to smaller areas in the image as well, example, the smaller areas surrounding the legs of the chair.

Tip: Shift key and Alt/Option keys act as moderator keys with an active selection. Shift to add to the selection, Alt/Option to minus from a selection.

Step Three: Inverse Selection and Add Layer Mask

Once all areas is completly selected, go to the Select > Select Inverse menu command. This will set the selection focus on the model instead off the background.

Then click the Add Layer Mask icon command at the bottom of the Layers Panel (encircled in red), as captured below.

Here is finished Mask: a complete background knockout.

Notice the document view transparncy (checker board pattern) and the Mask thumbnail appended to the Bitmap Layer!

To compare the Mask against a different background, I added a new Canvas Solid Color Fill, as captured below.

What becomes evident is a ‘halo’ or fringe outline we have to deal with.

Step Four: Clean up Edges/’Halo’

With the Layer Mask thumbnail active (indicated by the green outline), go to the Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur menu command.

At the resulting dialog, enable Preview and adjust the slider to ‘soften’ the edge Mask. The value you use is discretionary based on your chosen image, I settled on 2.2 and then clicked OK to commit changes.

Finally, still with the Layer Mask thumbnail active/selected (encircled in red), go to the Filters > Adjust Colors > Levels menu command.

At the resulting dialog, push the Midtone (grey) and the Darkness (black) sliders to the right, similar to what I have captured below. Then click OK to commit changes.

Again, how far you push the sliders is discretionary.

Now notice how smooth and refined the Mask edges appear compared to the original Mask creation step.