Photoshop Tips and Tricks presents Removing Backgrounds with Katrin Eismann
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Fine-Tuning Transitions

Most of the work is done, but now we need to be a bit more careful as we blend between the filled areas and the fine-detail areas with the Dodge, Burn, and Paint Brush tools. The Dodge tool lightens and the Burn tool darkens image information. Although I rarely use them on a color image, I do use these tools all the time to enhance tonal information in masks.

TIP: All of the Photoshop painting tools, except for the Pencil tool, can have hard or soft edges. With any brush active, (Cmd-click) [right-click] opens the brush's context-sensitive menu to increase or decrease brush hardness. The 0% setting represents very soft, while 100% represents hardedged. Use the hardness settings to match the edge quality of the subject you are working on.

Figure 8.24 shows the area by the little boy's head that needs greater tonal difference between him and the background. The lighter areas need to be even lighter and the dark areas need to be even darker.

figure 8.24 Refining the mask will maintain valuable edge information.

1. To lighten the boy's head, set the Dodge tool to Highlights and 5% to 10% exposure, and then use a soft-edged brush to gently dodge along inside his head (figure 8.25). When using the Dodge and Burn tools, it helps to release the mouse button or lift the Wacom stylus to start working on new areas.

Dodge the light areas
figure 8.25 Dodge the light areas.

2. To increase tonal difference, burn the dark areas. Switch to the Burn tool. Change the range to Shadows and exposure to 5% to 10%, and then brush along the outside of the little boy's head to make the dark areas even darker

3. Keep switching between the Dodge and Burn tools (O and Shift + O) to lighten the light areas and darken the dark areas, throughout the entire image.

4. Some areas of this image are not very well defined, such as the area by the boy's shoulders (figure 8.27). Use a white or black softedged brush to paint in the tonal transition.

figure 8.27 Areas that are not clearly differentiated need to be handpainted. See the result of painting in the correct contour of the shoulder.

If it is difficult to see where to paint, reduce the layer opacity to 50%, turn off the lower production layers to see through to the Background layer, and then trace along the contours. Increase the layer opacity to 100% to see the results

Lowering opacity
figure 8.29 Temporarily lowering the layer opacity to see through to the image is helpful when painting in edges. (See an enlargement)

5. The areas by the woman's shoulder offer a challenge, since the tonal difference isn't very great as shown in figure 8.31. In these cases, you can either opt to draw in every hair by hand or paint in a transition with a large soft brush, as I did in figure 8.32. challenging areas
figure 8.31 A challenging area, which doesn't have very much tonal difference. But to the right, see the results of insinuating hair with a soft-edged brush.

Keep in mind, our task is to create a believable hair mask.

Sometimes it's better to insinuate a transition than to use a lot of time on areas that may not be very important or that you can fix better later, when the new background is added.

Next: Replacing the Background


Photoshop Masking & Compositing

coverAre you enjoying the tutorial so far? Well, Katrin can make a huge differece in all Photoshop users' lifes, by studying her step-by-step examples. She'll take you through tools and techniques you'll seriously need for masking and combining images. She will focus you on the techniques used to create compelling compositions, including making fast and accurate selections, mastering Photoshop's masking tools, and implementing the concept and photography from start to finish. The book teaches you the inside poop on selection tools; selecting and maintaining fine details and edges; working with difficult image elements, such as cloth, hair, or translucent objects; and green-screen techniques -- like no other book available on the market today.
      If you want to be the very best -- you need this book.

Katrin Eismann is an internationally respected teacher and lecturer on photographic imaging, restoration, retouching, and the impact of emerging technologies on photography and the arts. Katrin received an undergraduate degree in photographic illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology and her Master of Fine Arts degree in design at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her other books include Photoshop Masking & Compositing and Real World Digital Photography.
      In 2005, she was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. She is the author of Photoshop Restoration and Retouching 2nd Edition (Below), and is the co-author of Real World Digital Photography 2nd Edition (Peachpit Press).

Photoshop Restoration & Retouching


Whether you're a professional photographer or the family shutterbug, you can't afford to miss the third edition of the now classic Photoshop Restoration & Retouching. Katrin Eismann and co-author Wayne Palmer have reviewed, updated, and revised every single technique to address the most important features in Adobe Photoshop CS2. Whether you're a professional photographer or the family shutterbug, you can't afford to miss the third edition of the now classic Photoshop Restoration & Retouching. Clear step-by-step instructions using professional examples highlight the tools and techniques photographers, designers, restoration studios, and beauty retouchers use to restore valuable antique images, retouch portraits, and enhance glamour photography.

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