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Smoothing out the edges of a jagged mask

From: Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero

Video: Smoothing out the edges of a jagged mask

So here I am looking at my initial mask.

Smoothing out the edges of a jagged mask

So here I am looking at my initial mask. Problem is, if I go ahead and zoom in to 100% by pressing Ctrl+1 or Cmd+1 on a Mac. And I might even zoom in a little further on this guy's hair and ear. You can see that we have some very jagged transitions. And that's because, for the most part, except for that hand painting that we just did, all of the pixels inside this mask are either black or white. What we need to do in this movie is smooth those transitions. And we're also going to turn our silhouette into an independent layer.

So, the first thing we're going to do is take this threshold 20 channel that I created in the previous movie and I'm going to create a copy of it by dragging it and dropping it onto the little Page icon at the bottom of the Channels panel. It's very important that you're working inside this same panel because after all, every alpha channel is a flat, layerless image. With the copy selected, I'll go up to the Filter menu. And this is a great way to smooth any alpha channel, incidentally. Go up to the Ffilter menu, choose Blur and then, choose Gaussian Blur.

And, you want to enter a radius value that's commensurate with the resolution of the image. Now, this image is quite large. At 300 pixels per inch, it would be something like 22 inches tall. And, so, I'm going with the very large radius value. If you have fewer pixels in your image, then you want to go with a lower value. But you want the blur to look something more or less like this. So, an awful lot of blur going on. And then, click OK. And now, in order to calm down the blur, you want to apply levels.

So, you go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and choose Levels. And of course, because we're working in a flat alpha channel, we have to apply a static modification as opposed to an adjustment layer. So, we'll go ahead an choose Levels. We'll press Ctrl+L or Cmd+L on the Mac. And then, go ahead and scoot this black point value up to 100. This is a great way to work, just about all of the time, regardless of the resolution of your image. And then, you want to scoot over by pressing the Tab key a couple of times to the y point value and take it down 100 to 155.

So, you're adding 100 to the black point value and subtracting 100 from the white point value. And now you can see that they're nice and smooth. That is to say, no longer blurry, at which point go ahead and click the OK button in order to apply your change. And just to keep track of what I've done, I'll go ahead and rename this channel G Blur 6, let's say, and then ,100/1/155. And that tells me that I applied those level modifications.

Just an easy thing to read, once you become familiar with this approach. Now, I want to convert this silhouette into an independent layer. So, the first thing I need to do is convert it into a selection outline. And the easiest way to do that is to press the Ctrl key, or Cmd key on the Mac, and click on this channel at the bottom of the Channels panel. Then switch back to your RGB image. Go ahead and return to the Layers panel. And I'm going to press Ctrl+0, or Cmd+0 on the Mac, to zoom on out and now I'm going to create a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N or Cmd+Shift+N on the Mac and I'll name this layer, silhouette.

So, this is kind of a weird word to spell, but there it is. And then, you click OK. And then, press the D key to make sure that you're foreground color is black, and press Alt+Backspace, or Option+Delete on the Mac in order to fill the selection with black. At which point, we no longer need the fellow in the background, so go ahead and select the background to make it active and then press Ctrol+Backspace, or Cmd+Del on the Mac, in order to get rid of them so that we have a plain white background with the black silhouette sitting on top of it.

And now, just to get a sense for what we've been able to achieve here, I'll press Ctrl+1, or Cmd+1 on a Mac to zoom in to 100%, and then I'll spacebar+drag until I see the fellow's head here, and you can see that it is much smoother than it was previously at the outset of this movie, for example. But you lose detail as well. So, instead of seeing extremely finely rendered hair, as we might if we had spent a little more time masking this image, we end up with these sort of lumpy results.

But that's going to work out just fine because our final superhero has a very smooth head, and in fact, he has no ears whatsoever. And that, friends, is how you create a nice smooth silhouette of a human form set against a white background, here inside Photoshop.

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This video is part of

Image for Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero
Designs dekeConstructed: Retro-Style Superhero

43 video lessons · 1623 viewers

Deke McClelland

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  1. 41s
    1. Welcome
  2. 13m 6s
    1. Masking a person from a white background
      8m 20s
    2. Smoothing out the edges of a jagged mask
      4m 46s
  3. 28m 52s
    1. Adding power and motion with Liquify
      8m 21s
    2. Puppet warping the legs closer together
      6m 36s
    3. Applying a perspective-style transformation
      5m 34s
    4. Smoothing and removing details with Liquify
      8m 21s
  4. 28m 34s
    1. Filling and stroking the silhouette
      3m 47s
    2. Drawing with the Pen and Brush tools
      7m 56s
    3. Hand-painting the face
      8m 56s
    4. Refining brushstrokes with Median and Minimum
      7m 55s
  5. 39m 2s
    1. Adding complementary colored clouds
      5m 28s
    2. Drawing a handful of spikes in Illustrator
      8m 34s
    3. Creating a burst pattern with Transform
      9m 36s
    4. Adjusting the spikes for a better effect
      7m 20s
    5. Bringing the burst pattern into Photoshop
      8m 4s
  6. 51m 4s
    1. Creating the extreme paths for the grill lines
      7m 31s
    2. Blending the grill lines in Illustrator
      9m 42s
    3. Correcting potential blending problems
      9m 58s
    4. Bringing the blended paths into Photoshop
      8m 27s
    5. Simulating pressure when stroking paths
      5m 35s
    6. Contouring the grill lines onto the face
      9m 51s
  7. 23m 47s
    1. Drawing a hand with the Pen tool
      9m 29s
    2. Converting the hand path to a shape layer
      6m 2s
    3. Finishing off the hands and gloves
      8m 16s
  8. 28m 49s
    1. Blend, scale, and rotate photographic flames
      6m 17s
    2. Filling in gaps with symmetrical flames
      7m 15s
    3. Shooting flames out of the hero's hands
      7m 34s
    4. Stroking the composite flames
      7m 43s
  9. 19m 13s
    1. Drawing cartoon flames as a shape layer
      5m 56s
    2. Enhancing the flames with layer effects
      5m 32s
    3. Adjusting Puppet Warp and Expansion
      7m 45s
  10. 16m 56s
    1. Installing a free comic-lettering font
      3m 59s
    2. Formatting the monologue text
      5m 43s
    3. Drawing the talk balloons (a.k.a. speech bubbles)
      7m 14s
  11. 43m 10s
    1. Selecting a font-creation software
      5m 17s
    2. Drawing consistently rendered letterforms
      9m 10s
    3. Pasting the letters into Glyphs Mini (Mac only)
      8m 11s
    4. Copying capitals into lowercase positions (Mac only)
      6m 45s
    5. Generating an OpenType font (Mac only)
      7m 56s
    6. Stylizing the custom font in Photoshop
      5m 51s
  12. 4m 24s
    1. Time lapse of the retro superhero
      3m 4s
    2. Until next time
      1m 20s

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