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Dealing with a monochromatic image

From: Photoshop Selections Workshop

Video: Dealing with a monochromatic image

The key to creating selections easily is having some level of contrast between the area you want to select and the area you don't want selected. In an image such as this one, creating a selection can seem a particular challenge since so much of the image looks the same as everything else in terms of overall tonality and color. In this case I'd like to enhance the name on the sign at the front of the train to the left which will require a few different techniques to achieve the final selection. Let's take a look at how we can approach such a challenge.

Dealing with a monochromatic image

The key to creating selections easily is having some level of contrast between the area you want to select and the area you don't want selected. In an image such as this one, creating a selection can seem a particular challenge since so much of the image looks the same as everything else in terms of overall tonality and color. In this case I'd like to enhance the name on the sign at the front of the train to the left which will require a few different techniques to achieve the final selection. Let's take a look at how we can approach such a challenge.

I think for selecting the letters on the sign, the best approach is going to be the color range selection. Even though there's not a lot of color going on here, we can use these luminance values as the basis of a selection. So I'll choose Select > Color Range from the menu, and I am actually going to zoom in a bit on the sign so that we can get a better sense of the work we are doing along the way. I'll leave the selection preview set to quick mask and then with my eye dropper I'll click inside one of the letters to get started. I'll then choose the plus eyedropper and click and drag in different areas of the letters here, until we get all of the letters completely selected or as close to being completely selected as we possibly can. That's actually looking pretty good there.

I can adjust the fuzziness as needed, if I need to blend that selection outward a little bit into other color values. But in this case, this is looking pretty good actually. I think we're off to a really good start. So I'll go ahead and click OK, and as you can see I have a pretty good selection. Keeping on mind that some of the edges here are going to be a little bit fuzzy. Which is why we're seeing a selection edge that seems to be inside the letters just a little bit. But overall we're in great shape. I'll zoom out though, and as you can see we ended up with a huge selection.

It seems like maybe half of the pixels in this image might be selected because so many of them were similar in terms of tone and color to the area I was trying to select. This might seem a little bit daunting, but it's actually remarkably easy to fix this. I'll go ahead and choose my Lasso tool, and in this case I'm going to choose the Intersect With Selection option. And then I'll draw a lazy lasso loop around the letters here. I don't have to be very careful at all because really the letters are pretty well isolated in their own little area, it's the rest of the image that's a problem.

So, when I release the mouse, having used the Intersect Option, only the letters will be selected. Of course, zooming in a little bit, we'll see that it's not quite that perfect. I do have a couple areas here that might need some clean up. In particular, this little spot right here, between the E and the O. So, I'll choose the Subtract From Selection Option and then draw a little loop around that area. And I think we're in good shape. So, now zooming out one more time. I have a selection for those letters that I think is going to be just great.

I'll go ahead and add a curves adjustment layer and the selection there of those letters will be used as the basis of a layer mask. So, while it's really small in the thumbnail here, you can probably see that we have a little bit of white over on the left side of the layer mask. And that represents those letters that we had selected. So, I'll go ahead and adjust the brightness of curves here and as you can see I'm only affecting the letters on that sign. That's thanks to the selection we created which was of course used as the basis of a layer mask for this curves adjustment. I'd really like those letters to snap a bit, so I think right about there is going to look pretty good.

I'll turn off this curves adjustment layer, so you can see the before, and the after, and all we've done is boost up those letters, just a little bit, and that's looking really, really good. Let's zoom in and make sure everything looks nice. I think though that I might've actually wanted to feather this selection. But of course, I prefer not to feather selections, but rather feather them after the fact. And what I mean by that is that rather than feathering the selection itself, I'll feather the layer mask that was created from that selection. So, I'll go to my Masks panel, and increase the feather amount probably just by one pixel, maybe two in this case. Yeah, I think, actually two's probably a little too much. I think I'll leave that set to one.

And so now you can see that we're feathering out that transition just a little more, and in fact, with that feathering I could probably even get away with more brightening of those letters, if I wanted to. In this case, I don't need them to be particularly bright. So, I think that's going to be good enough. And once again, I'll turn off the adjustment and turn it back on so that you can see the final result. As you can see, even when a selection seems somewhat simple and yet really challenging, if we break down the process into a few manageable steps the overall process of creating the selections suddenly isn't quite so challenging.

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Photoshop Selections Workshop

31 video lessons · 1847 viewers

Tim Grey
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