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Erin

Tutorial : Isolating objects in Photoshop

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Isolating objects in Photoshop

 

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 “pen tool†– this may be useful to you!

 

Step One – Preparation and Shooting

 

You’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 – plus they’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 store… of course if you have the money to spend, you could have a proper studio setup!

- Get a good tripod… and a remote control if possible so that your hand doesn’t shake the camera when your shutter speed is low – typically anything under 1/60. (See link “What is shutter speedâ€)

- Make sure your subject is properly focused... you’ll want to use higher aperture values to ensure the whole object is in focus. (See link “What is apertureâ€)

- Keep the ISO at its lowest setting (50-100) to help ensure noise-free results.

 

Step Two – Editing

 

Now let’s start isolating! First, let’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. You’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 shouldn’t move this slider too much – 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 – 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: [ ] … [ 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 – make sure the edges are nice and clean. Always, always work in separate layers! (For ease of erasing any mistakes) And try and avoid “choppy†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!

 

Related Links:

 

Shutterstock discussion on isolation materials:

http://submit.shutterstock.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1669&highlight=isolate

 

What is “aperture�

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/fototech/apershutter/aperture.htm

 

What is shutter speed?

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/fototech/apershutter/shutter.htm

 

Photoshop basics:

http://www.arraich.com/ps6_tips_basics1.htm

 

The pen tool makes for an awesome isolation method, and I’ve found a great tutorial here: http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/photoshop/l/blrbps_4abfly.htm

post-496-1436829868604_thumb.jpg

post-496-14368298686339_thumb.jpg

post-496-14368298686625_thumb.jpg

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Woww, this is really great. I tried several times to isolate objects with few success. Maybe if I follow these rules, who know ... 10x very much, Erin

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I think my way is faster...

 

Zoom in 100%. USe the polygon selection tool to rough in a selection around the object. Get it close, but don't waste time getting it perfect. Once you close around the object, contract the selection by a couple pixels. Smooth by several pixels. Invert the selection. Feather by a couple pixels. Hit delete. Voila. Honestly works really, really well, and as you get better at it, you can do it very fast.

 

All my isolated shots in my gallery were done with this technique.

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erin and david, thanks very much. going to spend sometime today and work on techniques.

much appreciated.

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Really useful, I've been experimenting with isolating objects but although I am improving, I still don't have the hang of it.

 

Thanks for the tips, really appreciated.

 

Mary

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I am continually learning more about the PS techniques. It amazes me what I learn from the forums like this. Your tip about a hardness of 95 even made a great difference. I also was not aware of the shift key method of making a straight line using the paintbrush tool. I just tried this and heck, it is gonna make my days a bunch easier. Keep the pointers coming and thanks.

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This is typically how i do it, but this week on an interview I was asked to take a model that was on a white cube and place her on another object. I placed her on a cutout of a globe, but there were reflections on her hose from the previous white cube, which caused the knockout to look contrived. Any suggestions? Also, what is a good way to knock out hair. I don't have an expensive plug in, and am tight since i'm looking for a job.

Thanks again for the tips, guys

Jenn

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That is just awesome! Thanks a ton! Great Resource! I really need to spend some time working on this...hmmm, but tonight I think i'll just play WOW for a while...maybe tomorrow! LOL

 

Jenn

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Yeah, I actually found out about that from this forum, somebody else posted it... Sorry I forgot who you are but props to you nonetheless. Channel Mixer is an amazing tool in this regard ;)

 

(GIMP users can find the Channel Mixer in Filters->Colors->Channel Mixer, in case you're looking).

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I think my way is faster...

 

Zoom in 100%. USe the polygon selection tool to rough in a selection around the object. Get it close, but don't waste time getting it perfect. Once you close around the object, contract the selection by a couple pixels. Smooth by several pixels. Invert the selection. Feather by a couple pixels. Hit delete. Voila. Honestly works really, really well, and as you get better at it, you can do it very fast.

 

All my isolated shots in my gallery were done with this technique.

 

This feathering will give you oversmooth edges.

 

Zoom the image at 300% using the polygon tool select the edges CAREFULLY, feather by 0.5 (1 is the minimum value on ps7) and that's it, you get clean edges. Also you can just convert your selection to a clipping path .

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Excellent tutorial.

Simple step by step...

Hey, good info even for an old dog.

 

Thanks Erin

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My brother taught me to use the pen tool to draw out a path. After that, convert it into a selection and feather by about 2 pixels. Then inverse the selection and clear that area out.

 

Voila. White out product shot with a clipping path. Kill two birds with one stone.

 

But there's a bit of learning curve to pick up the pen tool. But it's worth it since it's used a lot when drawing vectors in illustrator too!

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About the squirrel and any other furry things:

 

Blow up to at least 200%.

 

Erase the background using any tool of your preference, just be sure to erase all areas containg any background color, usually this includes the entire outer furry part of the coat. Use an appropriate amount of feather to soften the edges quite a bit (depends very much upon the image at hand) so you have to test and find out for yourself).

 

Now, the best part: Use the brush tool to paint back the fur! Vary pixels after how thick the single hairs are (usually 1 or 2 pxls). It takes a while, but it is quite easy. Make sure not all hairs are the same length and in the same direction. Make it look natural. Open the original image (small size) for reference as you paint.

 

Go over all the hairs again using the smudge tool to fade out the end of each hair.

 

With this method you can put whiskers back on a cat, long hair on the squirrel's tail, anything!

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I've been struggling to learn how to isolate simple objects using the GIMP. I'm especially having difficulty obtaining clean edges. I'm a complete beginner and very frustrated with the process. Can someone kindly offer a simple step-by-step procedure or direct me to a great tutorial? I'd really appreciate any assistance. Thanks.

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Thanks everybody for such tips.

I am ignorant, what is a GMP

 

I used polygon tools Andres on a pic and it had been rejected on IS, they suggest me to use Pen tools only to remove bckground.

Quite difficult these pen tools and it takes time before properly handying it.

 

I am also looking for tips to make silhouette with one of my image. If anyone can suggest something about it.

 

Thanks a lot

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This is my next idea to try.

I have used white paper background to isolate objects and have recently bought photoshop3 elements.. all I can afford at the moment.

All the tips and advice are so useful. I am going to try them out.

Regards and thanks

Margaret

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Just read an interesting article by a newspaper photographer who says and I agree with him that what ever method you use you will always get some pixel distortion around the edges due to some reason to do with pixels. He suggests when you have finished blow it up and go round gently with the cloning brush both sides. He shows an example of one of the most washed out photos I have ever seen a real dustbin job and by the time he had finished with corrective layers it looked fantastic, fit for the front page. His name is Steve Caplin worth looking him up. Corrective layers will certainly give you the showroom finish we are all looking for.

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Do you have a link to that article handy? It sounds like a fantastic read. Thank you guy's for putting this Tut on isolation up!

 

-----

The Forum Lurker...

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