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In this exercise, we're going to exaggerate the saturation of the skin tones, and that's going to allow us to more easily select those skin tones, including the face and the arms. So I've saved my progress as Masked hair.psd, found inside the 26_masking folder. I am going to switch back to the full color composite image by clicking on RGB at the top of the Channels panel and then I'll switch over to the Layers panel like so. I'll grab that Background layer right there and I'll press Ctrl+Alt+J or Cmd+Option+J once again and I'll call this one Saturation, and then I'll click OK.
So, we are creating yet another layer just for the sake of exaggerating some of the details, to make them easier to select. So I'll drag Saturation to the top of the stack. Now, our big problem so far is that the skin tones aren't different enough from the background, and I also discussed how one side of an arm is lighter than this background and another side is darker and it's that way pretty much inside all three of the channels. So what in the world do we do? Well sometimes, when you're selecting color regions inside of an image, you're better off go into the Select menu and choosing the Color Range command, which I've assigned a keyboard shortcut, if you loaded dekeKeys, of Ctrl+Shift+Alt+O or Cmd+Shift+Option+O the Mac.
And then I would go ahead and click inside of a flesh tone like so and maybe Shift+drag along some flesh tones and Shift+drag along this arm and so on and it's pretty slow going, frankly, and I can't even see my image because I have the Selection Preview set to Grayscale. I'll set it to None, and then I'll Shift+drag along this arm and that ends up selecting too much. Now set the Selection Preview back to Grayscale, so we can see what a junky horrible selection I've created and that's with a pretty darn low Fuzziness value. I've got my Fuzziness at its default setting of 40.
If I reduce that setting, then I'll reduce the size of my selection, however, I'll also get more jagged transitions. Anyway, as it so happens, we can help the Color Range command out by increasing the saturation of the image, because we want to distinguish, say, the oranges of the flesh tones from the blues of the background, if only the oranges were oranger and the blues were bluer, it would be that much easier to pull off and that's what we're going to do. So I am going to cancel out of this dialog box, and I'm going to go up to the Image menu and I am going to choose Adjustments and then Vibrance.
I am going to increase the Saturation value here to +100. No sense in making subtle modifications, we need as much difference as possible, and I'm going to change the Vibrance value to +100 as well. Now, this is, obviously, exaggerating the saturation of the image. In fact, some of you might wonder why we didn't use the Hue/Saturation command, if we are going to go this crazy with our modifications, why not choose Hue/Saturation and raise its Saturation value to 100%. Well, believe it or not that one slider in Hue/Saturation would do more than we've done here using two sliders with Vibrance.
However, we would also get very choppy edges and as a result, the arms would get kind of bumpy and weird. So we don't want that. Vibrance does a better job, 100 for Vibrance, 100 for Saturation, click OK and we've got a highly saturated version of the image. All right, now I'll go back to the Select menu and choose the Color Range command again or press the keyboard shortcut if you like, and then I will click inside the face in order to establish the base color, I'll Shift+drag across the face in order to add a few colors. Shift+drag down the jaw line and neck as well and this is looking pretty good.
Shift+click maybe in that right-hand arm, and look what a nice job the command does of selecting these arms and flesh tones as we can see right there. It's selecting into the hair as well, don't worry about that. Basically, what's happened is by virtue of the fact that we exaggerated the saturation, we caught the hair too, of course, because we exaggerated the saturation of all the details inside the image and the hair started peeling away and becoming less bluish looking and more orangish looking. However, all of the hair that we're selecting so far falls inside of our existing hair selection, so it's not going to cause us any problems.
Anyway, I might Shift+ click right there on that arm. That looks great actually, Shift +click on the shoulder as well. So I just want to make sure I have pretty white looking arms here, and that the face is filled in. A Fuzziness value of 40 works great, so don't change that, make sure Localize Color Clusters is turned off and Invert should be turned off as well, and then click OK, in order to create that selection. Now then I'll go ahead and zoom in here, so that we can see the selections up close and personal. Right now, we're seeing the selection as marching ants, which doesn't do us very much good.
But you know what, it's very likely after having created this Color Range selection that we're going to need to refine it a little bit. The great thing about the Refine Edge command is that it allows us to preview our selection and see what it looks like. So I'll go up to the Select menu and choose the Refine Edge command or press Ctrl+Alt+R, Cmd+Option+R on the Mac. I'm currently viewing the selection against a white background, that suits me just fine actually, and you can see that we have some pretty jagged transitions right now. So let's go ahead and raise that smooth value.
I am going to set it to 10 and see what I come up with, and that smoothes things out very nicely. In fact, for this particular image, I've found that 10 works out very well. Anything lower ends up getting a little jagged again, anything higher ends up over-smoothing the selection, and we don't want to do that because notice that we are rounding off the corners right there at the bottom of the arms, and that's happening over here on the right-hand arm as well. So a little bit smoothing goes a long way. Now, what I want to do is increase that Contrast value and I am going to take it up to 25%, so that we have some fairly accurate contouring going on.
So we don't want too much softness in our selection, in other words. Now, we do have some lumps over here on the right arm, and I suspect there's two reasons for that. One is because there were some pretty soft transitions there in the first place. Secondly, I think this image has been edited, I think the photographer or whomever submitted it to the Fotolia image library, went ahead and made the arms thinner, using the Liquefy command, and they probably introduced some lumps that they couldn't see because there wasn't enough contrast going on, but now that we're starting to generate a selection, it's obvious. Anyway, I am going to click OK.
So 10 for Smooth, 25 for Contrast, 0 for everybody else, click OK. Now, let's go over to the Channels panel and I'm going to switch to that Hair Mask channel in progress right there. Let's go ahead and zoom out, just to make sure that our selection is falling inside of the white region of the hair, as it seems to be doing. All right, so I am going to zoom back out to, where was I before, I think 40%, just so that we have a fairly good view of the image, but we can see the whole thing.
And then I am going to press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H on the Mac to hide that selection outline, so that we can see what is going to happen inside the image. White is my background color, so I will press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac, in order to fill the selection with white. So this is before and this is after, all of the hair detail looks exactly the way it did before, so we are not harming anything there. Notice, this is the before version, there is the face outline right there. As soon as I fill the flesh tones with white, we end up getting rid of the face, so we accurately distinguish the face from the holes in back of the hair, which is perfect, and we also do a great job of selecting those arms.
All right, but we still have a little of work to do, we've got to Undo the results of the smoothing, those rounded corners down there at the base of the arms, and we've got to get rid of the lumpiness over here on the right-hand arm, and we're going to do that work using the Smudge tool in the next exercise.
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