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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Let's Lasso Somebody

Okay, enough theory. Take a soda break if you need one, and when you return refreshed, we'll put some of this theory into practice and make some selections. The next exercise involves a groomsman named Jon in a cluttered church office wearing a ridiculously overpriced rental tuxedo. If his mother is going to frame this photograph, the background must be replaced with something a little less cluttered.

Combining Selection Methods

  1. Open the TuxedoJon.psd file from the Examples/Chap03 folder on the Companion CD.

  2. NOTE

    Controlling the Magnetic Lasso The Magnetic Lasso tool can be a great timesaver when it comes to making selections. Essentially you move the tool along the edge of the area you want to select. A high-contrast, well-defined edge works best. On edges that are poorly defined—when the colors inside and outside the edge are close to the same color—the tool needs a little help from you.

    Using the tool is quite simple. Click once at the point where you want to begin the selection. This point is called a fastening point. Now move the tool (slowly and without holding down the mouse button) along the edge. Fastening points will appear along the edge of the selection as the computer tries to determine where the edge is. At some point, the computer will guess wrong. When it does make a wrong guess, stop and press Backspace. Each time you press the key, Photoshop removes the last point on the selection. Continue to do this until you get to a point on the selection back on the actual edge. You can try adding fastening points again, but usually when the Magnetic tool guesses wrong, there is either a low-contrast edge or there is something nearby (not on the edge) that is pulling the tool away from the edge.

    At this point, you have several choices. You can change the settings in the Options bar and attempt to click your way through it—but this is not the best alternative. Instead, try clicking to create fastening points where you would like them to go, or press the Alt(Opt) key to switch temporarily to the Lasso tool; and while pressing the mouse button, drag the mouse along the edge. If the edge confusing the Magnetic Lasso is composed basically of straight lines, you can switch to the Polygonal tool by holding down the Ctrl(„) key and then click from point to point.

  3. Choose the Magnetic Lasso tool and pick an area of high contrast between Jon and the background. Click at the edge of Jon and the background (his tuxedo is a good starting place). After you click, release the mouse button and simply drag a line around him. When you reach Jon's hair, or another area of low contrast, you may find it easier to define this area if you hold down Alt(Opt) to toggle to the Lasso tool and click and drag to make a selection near this area. Release Alt(Opt) when you're back to high contrast areas. Don't worry if your selection has mistakes (see Figure 3.11). You will fix those later.

  4. If you would like to do this exercise without all the work of making a selection, you can use a ready-made selection. Step 3 explains how to make use of this selection. Otherwise, skip Step 3, and continue on to Step 4 to refine the selection.

    Figure 3.11Figure 3.11 Using the Magnetic Lasso tool, you can quickly make an initial selection of Jon from the background.

  5. Optional: Click the Channels tab to view the Channels palette and Ctrl(„)+click the Tight Jon Outline channel. A selection of Jon will load. If the marching ant selection appears around the edges of the document, press Ctrl(„)+Shift+I to invert the selection. Click the Layers tab to move back to the Layers palette. Skip to Step 6.

  6. Press D (default colors). Click the Quick Mask mode icon on the bottom of the toolbox. If the red tint color is not on Jon (but on the background instead), Alt(Opt)+click the Edit in Quick Mask Mode icon below the color boxes on the toolbox to switch the tint to Jon.

  7. Press B to switch to the Brush tool. On the Options bar, choose a soft round 5-pixel brush. Mode should be set at Normal, and Opacity and Flow should be at 100%. Press Ctrl(„)+plus sign to zoom in so that you can get a good look at the edges where Jon meets the background. Press the spacebar to toggle to the Hand tool when you need to maneuver around the image as you work. With black as the foreground color, paint in areas of Jon that might have been missed. Press X to switch to white as the foreground color and paint over mistakes or areas of the background that were included in the selection process. The goals are to have Jon covered in red tint and to exclude the background (see Figure 3.12). Press X to switch back to black if needed. When you are satisfied with the selection (or the red tint area), press Q to exit Quick Mask mode and turn the red tint area back into a selection.

  8. Figure 3.12Figure 3.12 Use the Quick Mask mode to refine your selection.

    One of the ways to emphasize the subject is to blur the background using Gaussian Blur. The problem with this approach is the background. It is so cluttered that by the time that you get it blurred enough to do the job, it looks sort of surreal. On top of that, Jon and the couch on his right are the same distance from the camera, so the perspective doesn't look right. For the best results, let's replace the background with a different one.

  9. Press Ctrl(„)+J to move Jon to his own layer. Click the Background layer to make this the active layer. Open the Background.tif image from the Examples/Chap03 folder on the Companion CD. Position both documents so that you can see both (zoom out if necessary). Click the title bar of the Background.tif image to make it the active document. Hold down the Shift key and drag the Background layer into the TuxedoJon.psd document window (see Figure 3.13). Holding down the Shift key will position the new background so that it is centered in the document window. Close the Background.tif image without saving any changes.

  10. Figure 3.13Figure 3.13 Shift+drag the new background image into the TuxedoJon document.

  11. Wow, the photograph has now replaced the previous cluttered one. Actually, the old background is still there, simply hidden by the new background. To prove the original photo is still there, click the eye icon on Layer 2 to toggle the layer's visibility to off and the old background becomes visible. Click the Layer 2 eye icon again and the new background returns. Wait, it gets even better: select the Move tool in the toolbox and with the top layer selected, you can move the background image around to position it.

  12. Optional: If you see on Jon areas of the old background that need to be removed, click Layer 1 (Jon's layer) to make it the active layer. Click the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. The default colors (black and white) should still be your foreground and background colors. Press B for the Brush tool and use black to paint away unwanted areas. Press X to switch and use white to paint back any mistakes you might make. When Jon appears perfect, right-click (Macintosh: hold Ctrl and click) on the layer mask thumbnail and choose Apply Layer Mask to apply your changes (see Figure 3.14). Press Ctrl(„)+Shift+S if you would like to save this image to your hard disk.

Using a selection allows you to replace a background without losing the original background.

Figure 3.14Figure 3.14 Use a layer mask if necessary to touch up any missed areas of old background on Jon.

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