Complex Selections Made Easy in Adobe Photoshop - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class | Helen Bradley | Skillshare

Complex Selections Made Easy in Adobe Photoshop - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class

Helen Bradley, Graphic Design for Lunch™

Complex Selections Made Easy in Adobe Photoshop - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class

Helen Bradley, Graphic Design for Lunch™

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7 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Complex Selections Made Easy in Photoshop - Introduction

      1:26
    • 2. Pt 1 - Selecting images

      2:43
    • 3. Pt 2 - Analyzing Images and Tools

      3:00
    • 4. Pt 3 - Making and Editing a Selection

      9:10
    • 5. Pt 4 - Fine tune the selection

      7:25
    • 6. Pt 5 - Select and Mask

      7:42
    • 7. Project and wrapup

      1:35
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About This Class

Graphic Design for Lunch™ is a series of short video courses you can study in bite size pieces such as at lunchtime. In this course you'll learn to make complex selections around hair using the Refine Edge tool as well as the new Select and Mask tools in Photoshop. This class is suitable for anyone using Photoshop CS5 or later - unfortunately the tools used in this class are not available in earlier versions of Photoshop. Most Photoshop users will have the Refine Edge tool and its use is covered in detail here. The class also covers Select and Mask which was new in Photoshop CC2015.5.

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Helen Bradley

Graphic Design for Lunch™

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Helen teaches the popular Graphic Design for Lunch™ courses which focus on teaching Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe® Illustrator®, Procreate®, and other graphic design and photo editing applications. Each course is short enough to take over a lunch break and is packed with useful and fun techniques. Class projects reinforce what is taught so they too can be easily completed over a lunch hour or two.

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Transcripts

1. Complex Selections Made Easy in Photoshop - Introduction: Hello, I'm Helen Bradley. Welcome to this Graphic Design for Lunch Class, Complex Selections made Easy in Adobe Photoshop. Graphic design for lunch is a series of classes that teach a range of tips and techniques for creating designs and for working in applications such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and Procreate. Today we're looking at cutting people out of their current backgrounds and placing them into a new background. In particular, we're looking at selecting around hair because this can be a nightmare. I'm going to show you a couple of tools and how to use those in Photoshop. We're also going to have a talk about what's possible and what isn't possible in terms of selecting hair and giving people a new background. Now as you're watching these videos, you're going to see a prompt which lets you recommend this class to others. Please, if you're enjoying the class and learning from it, do two things for me. Firstly, give it a thumbs up, and secondly, write in just a few words why you're enjoying the class. These recommendations help other students to say that this is the class that they too might enjoy. If you'd like to leave me a comment or a question, please do so. I read and respond to all of your comments and questions, and I look out and respond to all of your class projects. If you're ready, now let's get started making complex selections involving hair. 2. Pt 1 - Selecting images: Before we get started working in Photoshop, let's just have a look through the hair category at unsplash.com. The images that I'm using are all from unsplash.com and it's a really good source of practice images to use. But when you're looking for practice images, you need to set yourself up for success because there are some images here that would take absolutely ages to be able to work with. This is one of them. There's not enough contrast between the hair and the background so you wouldn't ideally choose that. This is an image I quite liked to use because there was good contrast between the woman and the background. In addition, the background is out of focus and her hair is in reasonably sharp focus. I went through these images looking for things that I could possibly use. This one's going to be difficult to use because there's evening life in this little girl's face and on her hair, and so there's a lot of color in the hair and it's not natural color, it's a light color. So you want to be careful when you're selecting images that you don't get a lot of colored light in the hair itself. This would be relatively AZ to cut out this as like a gimme this one. It's a really nice one and nice neutral background will always help. If you need to photograph somebody and then put them in another location, photographing them against a neutral background is going to make your job a whole lot easier, and certainly don't photograph them with a complex background because that's going to be a nightmare to do the cut out on. This one obviously very easy. If you're using images that are on unsplash.com, you want to have a good look at them before you commit to using them. Because I found a carpal where the images have already been cut out and they haven't been cut out particularly well. So trying to do a cutout on somebody else's bad cut out wouldn't be my choice of things to do. This would be pretty good to do. There's plenty of content here at unsplash.com that you can use, and I'm going to give you the links to download the images that I'm using. But just be aware that a nice even neutral background here in focus and a lot of contrast between foreground and background will be an advantage if you're going to be cutting out here. Now this is one of the images I'm going to use. It's really a lot of hair and it's really curly. But it's a really nice example as to what can be achieved. We're ready now let's go and head to Photoshop and do a couple of cutouts. 3. Pt 2 - Analyzing Images and Tools: I'm back in Photoshop here and this is the first of the images we're going to be working with. Now, as you can see, there's a lot of hair to cut out here. So we're going to have our work cut out with this image. There's also an issue here that you want to be aware of, one that's going to make it a little bit more difficult to do the cut out. That is that the photographer has shot the subject with a shallow depth of field. You can see that here on her jacket and here the edges are a little bit fuzzy, they're much crisper here, a lot fuzzier here. That's called a shallow depth of field. So this area is out of focus, which means that also her hair and particularly the hair that is behind this front element of hair, is out of focus too. So we're going to be making a cut out of some out-of-focus areas. That said, the fact that she's been shot against a very neutral background is going to help us. Now this is the second image we're going to look at. In this case, our model is really pretty much in focus and the background is significantly out of focus. It looks like it would be an easier job. Its got a few problems though as we're going to see as we work on it. The other thing we need to look at apart from analyzing these images is working out what tool we're going to use. Now, I suggest that this video course is suitable for anybody using Photoshop CS5 or later. Because the things that we're using were brought in in Photoshop CS5, it's really not going to cover people who are using CS4 and earlier, and I apologize for that. But these tools were brought into the later versions of Photoshop. So if you're using Photoshop CS5 or later, you can use what's called the refine edge tool, and we're going to look at how that's used. Now that tool is not available on the face of it in the later versions of Photoshop, but I'm going to show you how you can get access to it just so that you can use it and follow along. We're also going to look at the new to Photoshop 2015.5 select unmask tool. Now, a lot of people really hate this tool, but I've been working with it for a little while, and I think that it's worth persevering with and learning. Sometimes it does do a good job. The other thing I'm a little bit concerned about is that if Adobe removes access to the old refine edge tool, which we can get to in these later versions of Photoshop, but by doing a workaround, if they remove that and they have been known to do things like that in the past, then we're stuck with selected masks. So there's a good reason to at the very least investigate select and mask and just get a little bit of practice using it, just in case in the future it's the only tool that we have access to. 4. Pt 3 - Making and Editing a Selection: We're going to start with this image and we're in Photoshop CS6 because that's going to help anybody who is using the Refine Edge tool. I'm also going to show you if you don't have the Refine Edge tool because you're using Photoshop CC 2015.5 or 2017. I'm going to show you how you can get to Refine Edge. Now I've set up this document so that I have my portrait on the top layer and I've brought in a texture image. This is also from unsplash.com and I'm going to give you the download link for it. I brought it in and I had to scale it up really quite large to fit behind the quite large portrait. Now there's a reason for putting the intended background image into this image before we start and you're going to see that in just a minute. So we're ready to get started. I'm going to choose the quick select tool. This is your go-to tool right now. You're going to make a selection over the subject. You're not going to worry about these tendrils of hair, but you are going to worry about big lumps of hair that you might have missed. This is a pretty good selection here, and just might make my quick select tool a little bit smaller by pressing the open square bracket K and I'm just going to hold the Alt or Option key as I drag in on it, just to remove that background area from my selection. Now that I've got my selection, if you have a tool here that says Refine Edge, you just going to click it. If you're working in a version of Photoshop and it says Select and Mask here, then don't click it. You do not want to click that at all. What you want to do is click on the "Select" tool and you're going to have Select and Mask here in the menu. What you're going to do is hold the Shift key, hold it down while you click on that "Select and Mask" option. That will open the Refine Edge tool. So whatever you want to see, the Refine Edge tool, it's going to look like this. Now, I'm just going to go through these view modes because what you see here is going to depend on how your view modes are set up. So you might not necessarily see what I'm seeing. So we're going to open this flyout menu. We're going to choose Matching Ants. Matching Ants are just Matching Ants. So we're seeing the Marching Ants around our selection. If we choose Overlay, then we've got our Ruby length overlay is showing the areas that are not selected. The areas that are not covered with this Ruby length overlay are the areas that are selected. On Black shows what it's going to look like on a solid black background. This is not happening. This is a nightmare. You would not want to put this image on a solid black background. It's just not going to work. There are some pragmatic decisions you need to make when you're making those selections. A black background for this is just not going to work. It's going to be way, way too much effort. On White, that is going to work. We're going to get some really good results on white, just not on black. When we choose black and white, what we're seeing is in white is the selected area and in black is the non-selected area. So we're actually seeing our selection. On Layers, this is why I set up my document the way I did. When I choose On Layers, I'm seeing the layers as they appear in the Layers palette. So this has got a temporary mask on it and I can see how it's going to look over the image that I want to use. So this is giving me a preview of how it's all going to work. Reveal Layer really just shows the image as it was. So we're going back to either Matching Ants or Overlay. What you want to do is you want to be able to see the hair that you're missing. So let's go to Overlay. Next up we're going to pick up this brush here and it's the Refine Radius tool. You're going to select it and you've going to make sure it's a good size. So probably wants to be about this size. What we're going to do is we're going to paint over the areas that we need Photoshop to clean up. So here we've got some blue leaching into the hair from that background, and we're also missing these tendrils. I'm going to just start painting over these areas. Now I'm not going to go and paint everything all at once because I really want to be nice to Photoshop. So I'm going to paint over this area and then just give Photoshop time to catch up and make a better selection. So what we're saying is, this was not a good selection. Could you please go and improve on it? So we're not only knocking out the areas where there was blue background in the hair, we're also starting to pick up the areas where there was hair that we didn't get in our initial selection. Now what you want to avoid is touching this line or this line because they're really good lines and also they're really easy to get any other way. This Refine Radius tool is really good at uneven selections like this hair, and it really sucks at selections that are simple like this jacket. So if you missed a piece of the jacket, don't try and get it with this tool. You will need to fix that up later on with another selection tool, but this one's not the one for it. This is just really good at hair and uneven selections that need a bit of help. When you're painting this, if you've missed a piece of hair, you want to paint over the whole of the piece of hair because what you're doing is you're saying to Photoshop, "I want you to re-evaluate this entire area". So I'm covering the entire piece of hair that I want Photoshop to grab. Things are looking pretty good here now. So let's go and see it in a couple of other ways. Let's go and see it On White. Because as I promised you, On White, it looks fantastic. It really extracts beautifully onto a solid white background. It looks pretty good on our intended background. We do have a few problems to clean up, but it is pretty good. On Black, it's sucks as it is really a ghastly cut out. Black is not the color that you want to use as a background. This is just way too hard to fix quickly and easily. So I want to go back to this On Layers because we do have a slight problem with some hallowing around the hair. Before we leave this dialog, we could try some of these selections. For example, we could try Smart Radius. So just going to click on that and wait for Smart Radius to effect the image and see if you see anything different. If you don't see how it's working, just drag it to one end and see if it makes any positive change at all. If it doesn't, then chances are it's not the tool to use. We'll try smoothing. It's helping a little bit, but not a lot. Feather, let's see what that does. Well, obviously that was a bit much, but Feather is helping a little bit, but I don't think it's the tool that we want. Contrast may well be the tool that we want. With Contrast, what we're doing is we're actually getting a really more contrasty edge. So I'm just showing it to you against white because it's a bit easier to see. When I start backing off contrast, a little bit of the detail comes in. So I'm thinking that a little bit of contrast might get rid of these slightly hallowy areas. They look fine on a white background, but they're just not working on our darker background. So a little bit of contrast may help. The other thing that we could try is the Shift Edge. By shifting the edge a little bit, we might get an improvement, but we have to look at which direction we're heading in. I think that minus on the Shift Edge is going to be the better result. Let's have a look at it on our image. Well, the result is much better than it was. Let's take contrast back and take Shift Edge back. When we add that little bit of contrast in, and when we shift the edge a little bit in the negative direction, then we're getting some good results. In the next video, we're going to come back with the rest of the options in this dialog and see how they're going to affect the result that we're getting. 5. Pt 4 - Fine tune the selection: Before we finish up, we're going to have a look at the Decontaminate Colors option and what that will help us solve. Here, when the image was shot, the subject was shot against the blue gray background. The light that comes off that background is going to be reflected in the hair. It will add some color contamination to the edges of the hair. This tool here, the Decontaminate Colors tool, will help you remove contamination of a color which has been thrown into the edges of the hair that you've made the selection on. You can click here on "Decontaminate Colors" and you can also adjust the slider to see how the contamination is being removed. Now you will want to check it against whatever it is that you want to be the end result for your image. In our case, this is this particular background. But if you wanted to put this image on white, for example, you want to see how decontaminate colors is affecting this image on a white background. You want to see if that's giving you something that you didn't have before. If you don't get a change or if you don't like the change, then don't use this setting. I think it's giving us something. I don't think it's quite as much as we need to fix this image, but it might help just a little bit. Then we need to talk about how are we going to get the image out of this dialogue. There's a series of options. Some of these are grayed out because of this Decontaminate Colors option. If we turn that off, you can see that Selection and Layer Mask our options. But with Decontaminate Colors enabled, then Selection and Layer Mask aren't options any longer. We can create a new layer. That would be a New Layer for the cut-out, a New Layer with a Layer Mask, New Document or New Document with Layer Mask. So I'm going to choose "New Layer with Layer Mask" because I want the image, but I want the layer mask as well just in case I want to do some work on it. Now in the layers pallet, I have the original image layer and it's visibility is being disabled because we've got a new copy of that with its layer mask and of course we've still got our background in place. We can have a look at our layer mask if we hold the Alt key, that would be the Option key on a Mac and just click on the layer mask. This is what the layer mask looks like. Now this is like any other regular mask, so you can paint on it with white and black. I'm going to the Brush Tool here, and I've got white as my foreground color, my paint color, and so I could come in here because I've got the mask selected and I can just improve any areas of the mask that I think need a little bit of adjustment. I might want to just come through here and just touch up the mask. I can also work in the opposite direction and I can paint with black around the mask. One of the problems that I'm seeing with this image here is that it's a little bit fuzzy around the very edges of the hair and that's caused by the mask. But I could use the Burn Tool to help improve the quality of that mask. So I'm going to the Burn Tool, I'm going to set a brush hardness of about 30 percent and I can just adjust the size either with this dialogue or I could use the open and close square bracket case. I've got range set to Highlights because I want to affect the whites in the layer mask. I've got exposure to about 45 percent. That's a high value for exposure. I think it's going to be just fine in these circumstances. I have my mask selected, so what I'm going to do is just tap here on these outer slightly fuzzy areas of the hair just to try and bring a little bit of crispness into the mask underneath, which is going to stop this haloing effect. I don't want to be too heavy handed with this, but I do want to hit any places where I see that it's obvious that I've got this slight haloing problem with my mask. Over here, it's pretty good until we get up to here and it's got a bit of a problem here. So I just going to go back to my mask, which I clicked away from and just want to crisp up the edges of the mask a little bit using the Burn Tool, you want to make sure that you are working on your mask and not the image because that's critical. Because it's the mask that's causing this slight haloing, not the hair itself. So that's improved the look of the hair and I've got a lot less of that fluffiness around the edges. Now, as a finishing touch we are just going to take a bit of a look at the image here and just zoom right in. This is the original subject image. If you have a look at that, there's a lot of noise and grain in this image, a lot of grain. But if we move over and have a look at the background, you'll see that it's really smooth. These two images have been processed very differently. They've been shot very differently and processed very differently. So the background is really smooth and our subject is really grainy. Well, the solution to this is the same solution that you would typically use anytime you're putting two or more images together in a composite, and that is you want to add some noise. We're going to create what's called a stamp layer. I'm going to click on the topmost layer, hold down Control Alt and Shift on a PC, that's Command Option Shift on a Mac, and you're going to press the letter E. That will give you a stamp layer. What a stamp layer is, is the entire contents of the image flattened to a single layer, but you still got the original layers here in case you need them. What we're going to do with this stamp layer is add some noise, Filter, Noise, Add Noise. Let's just go to the plant area here. You can see when I hold my mouse on the preview, I'm seeing the original image and when I let go, I'm seeing this added noise. Now, probably somewhere between about seven and 10 percent noise. Because she was so noisy, we're probably going to need to throw quite a bit of noise at the background to just balance it out. I'm just using uniform noise and I'm going to click "OK". That's added noise across the background. It now has noise and that's matching up really well with our subject. It looks like a more cohesive resulting image. There's the first of our cutouts done using the Refine Edge tool. That's available in all versions of Photoshop from CS5 forward. You just have to use that work around to get access to it if you're using Photoshop CC 2015.5 or CC 2017. 6. Pt 5 - Select and Mask: For this second image that we're going to extract from it's background, I'm working in Photoshop CC 2017. But you could also be working in CC 2015.5 because we're going to be using this select and mask tool. Now, you can get to select and mask from the Select menu and you can just click select and mask. Or anytime you have a selection tool selected, you can just click on it here. You don't actually have to have a selection in place before you click on it. Now, this is what the selected mask interface looks like. We've got some tools here and we've got a properties panel here. Now, from my experience, sometimes you can see an image that looks a bit like this and you wonder what happened and what you're about to do. Other times you may not see this properties panel or it may not be populated this way. Now, if that happens to you, come up here and click this down pointing arrow and choose, reset, select and mask. That sends to put things back to rights. But I have had some problems where this properties panel just doesn't appear and it doesn't appear populated with these tools and you're just left wondering, "What on earth am I going to do here?" That's the solution. Right now what we're seeing is called onion skin mode, and it's selectable here it's onion skin. At one end of the transparency is fully opaque. We're seeing the whole of the image. At the other end, we would ultimately see the selection that we've made against a transparent background and since we don't have a selection made right now. Then there are other options like marching ants, overlay on black, on white, etc, as we had with the refine edge tool. The first thing to do is probably if you haven't made a selection yet, is to go to the onion skin mode, position your transparency slider about here so that you can see the image, and also see the transparency and go to the quick select tool. You're just going to drag over your subject to make your selection. If you go too far, then you've got to hold the Alt or Option key to remove an area from the selection. At this point, you can try it out with the transparency slider to see if you've got everything that you thought you were supposed to get. Well, obviously I've missed quite a bit of her face here. But the rest of it is looking pretty good. You can also try out things such as on black. You can see with on black we've got some fringing we would need to deal with. On white is always going to be an easy option and it's looking pretty good. Black and white is our actual mask. This is what our mask looks like. Let's go back to the onion skin. What I want to do here is to get Photoshop to have a better look at the edges. I'm going to see it as partially transparent and I'm going to the refine radius tool. You can re-size the tool here and you can select the hardness and the size of the brush. What you're going to do is just as we did with the refine edge tool, is just brush over the edges where you need Photoshop to make a better selection. You won't do it around the side of her face because that should be easy place to select and you don't want to set refine edge at that because it's just going to make a real harsh of it. But here we're just going to drag over the edge of the hair to try and pick up these fine hairs. Then we're going to select over here because we want to cut out the area behind her head where her hair isn't and where we see background through it. At this point, we can have a good look at our mask with black and white. I just want to zoom in here because this tool has a really nasty habit. When you run round the edge of the hair, it tends to eat away into the mask that you already had. You can solve that by clicking here on this brush tool and it paints with white when you just have it selected. You can come in here and just brush back in the foundations of your selection. You want the edges to be a little bit fluffy because they're supposed to be fluffy, that's where the hair is. But you don't want the mask which you had, which was pretty good, to be destroyed, which it is right now. I see little bits of destruction in here. I'm just painting that back in here. It's destroyed as well. I think this is partially why people don't like this tool because it does tend to destroy your masks or your selections in the process of making a better job of the fine edges, it's destroying the mid bits. Then we might have a bit of a problem here. If you want to get rid of this, you can do two things. You can firstly ask Photoshop to have another look at it to see if it could select it any better. If you want to remove it, then just choose a nice soft brush. I've got a softish brush here. You can hold the Alt or Option key and just brush over this area to remove it. You can clean up your mask here. Let's go back and see it on black. Now we're seeing through the hair here. The rest of it looks pretty good except for the fringing that we've got. Let's see it on white. Looks really good on white. Let's go back to on black. We can try some of these sliders if we want to. We've got a smart radius slider. Doesn't appear that it's doing much. You can adjust the radius if you want to. Again, that's helping a little bit with the fringing, but I think there's a better option coming up. Smooth is going to smooth out the selection. Feather is going to add a hideous feather to your selection, which is really not going to work at all. Contrast, we can ask for a bit more contrast around the edges. Again, that's helping remove some of this fringing. But I think the decontaminate colors option is going to be better. Again, we can shift the edge outwards or back in to try and help with that fringing if we need to. But again, I don't think we need to. I think that the decontaminate colors option is a really good option for removing the fringing on the hair in this circumstance, where we want to remove that very obvious halo effect and blend the image a little bit better into its background, as it would have been had she been shot against a dark background. If you're happy with your selection and when you are happy with your selection, you can then choose your output options. Because we've chosen decontaminate colors, selection and layer mask aren't available. But I'm going to choose new layer with layer mask and then just click "Okay". We get the same as we did with the refine edge tool. We've got a duplicate of our image with its layer mask in place. I'm just going to click to add a layer in here and I can fill it with my foreground color or backspace or option delete on the Mac. Of course, this would look good too with a dark but slightly mottled background that would give it a really nice look. 7. Project and wrapup: I hope that you've enjoyed this class and that you've learned how to use the Select and Mask tool and also the Refine Edge tool or whichever of those is available in your version of Photoshop. Your project for the class will be to take an image and to cut it from its background. Choose an image of a subject that has fluffy here that you can get some good practice with the refined edge tool in the Select and Mask Tools in Photoshop. Then place your subject against a new background that can be a background that you've downloaded from unsplash.com or any other site where you're able to download backgrounds to use. Post an image of your completed project, your subject extracted against the new background as your class project. As you're watching these videos, you will have seen a prompt that asks you if you would recommend this class to others. Please, if you enjoyed the class and have learned something from it, answer yes when prompted to recommend the class and write a few words about why you enjoyed the class. These recommendations help other students to say that this is a class that they too might enjoy and learn from. If you'd like to leave me a comment or a question, please do so. I read and respond to all of your comments and questions, and I look at and respond to all of your class projects. My name's Helen Bradley. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of Graphic Design for Lunch, and I look forward to seeing you in an upcoming episode soon.