Okay, so there are loads of isolation techniques available. Extraction, the pen tool, magic wand, etc, etc. Well, here are some more tips! Isolating objects can be a time consuming process, but is actually fun once you get the hang of it! (And editing times do eventually get shorter as you learn) This tutorial involves using the very basic tools in Photoshop, so for those of you who cringe at the words â€œpen toolâ€ â€“ this may be useful to you!
Step One â€“ Preparation and Shooting
Youâ€™ll make it a LOT easier on yourself in terms of editing time if you set up your shot properly to begin with. This means you should,
- Use a smooth, white surface for your background (Bristol board will work fine â€“ plus theyâ€™re dirt cheap and totally replaceable in the event of spillage)
- Use lots of light! A couple tungsten lamps are hardly enough. You can get some inexpensive 500-1000 watt lights at your hardware storeâ€¦ of course if you have the money to spend, you could have a proper studio setup!
- Get a good tripodâ€¦ and a remote control if possible so that your hand doesnâ€™t shake the camera when your shutter speed is low â€“ typically anything under 1/60. (See link â€œWhat is shutter speedâ€)
- Make sure your subject is properly focused... youâ€™ll want to use higher aperture values to ensure the whole object is in focus. (See link â€œWhat is apertureâ€)
- Keep the ISO at its lowest setting (50-100) to help ensure noise-free results.
Step Two â€“ Editing
Now letâ€™s start isolating! First, letâ€™s adjust the curves. (see attachment 001) Go to Image > Adjustments > Curves. Click and hold the center of the diagonal line on the grid window, and drag toward the upper left corner. Youâ€™ll notice how much brighter the image looks already! Drag it until the background looks nice and white, but ensuring that the subject does not get overexposed! Press OK when you are finished.
Next, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels. (see attachment 002) Drag the white slider arrow on the right over toward the left side. You shouldnâ€™t move this slider too much â€“ it will overexpose your subject!
Now comes the more time-consuming part. First, create a new layer in the layers palette. Then select the Brush tool. View your image at 100% by selecting View > Actual Pixels, or double-click the magnify glass in the tools palette. (Double click the hand tool to fit the view in photoshop) Make sure the color of your brush is true #FFFFFF white. Keep the hardness of the brush at about 95% - this usually gives you crisp (but not too crisp!) edges.
While in the new layer you created, begin manually outlining the edges of the object. (see attachment 003) A lot of areas will probably already be solid white from the adjustments we made earlier... but now you have to clean up shadowed areas and touch up the edges around the subject that may not be white. Do this very easily by using the Shift key shortcut. (To create a straight line with the paint tool, click once where the line begins, then shift-click to create the end â€“ and keep holding down the shift key to keep painting in sequence!)
Tip: Brush size can be easily increased/decreased by simply pressing these keys: [ ] â€¦ [ to decrease brush size and ] to increase.
Also, the dodge tool can be very useful for eliminating shadows - and it works similar to the paint brush! You'll find this tool in the tools palette.
Once you are finished, have a second look â€“ make sure the edges are nice and clean. Always, always work in separate layers! (For ease of erasing any mistakes) And try and avoid â€œchoppyâ€ corners, uneven edges, or edges that are way too soft. Also be sure to make any color adjustments as required. (Image > Adjustments > Color Balance)
I welcome any questions! And even better - I'd love to see other methods of isolation posted here! Good luck!
Shutterstock discussion on isolation materials:
What is â€œapertureâ€?
What is shutter speed?
The pen tool makes for an awesome isolation method, and Iâ€™ve found a great tutorial here: http://graphicssoft....rbps_4abfly.htm