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Making white backgrounds truly white with Viveza

From: Nik Creative Effects Workshop

Video: Making white backgrounds truly white with Viveza

Any photographer who's ever shot a subject against a pure white background knows that, unless you have really, really good lighting, chances are, you're going to end up with a background like you see here. Where the background is meant to be white, but it really isn't quite perfect all the way around. This usually means a trip to Photoshop. However, I'm going to show you how using the NIK plugin, Vevesa, you can take that white background and make it pure white very easily. The first thing we're going to do is add a few control points. If you're not familiar with control points, here's what happens. First thing I do is, grab a control point, and lay it down wherever I like, and I can make that any size that I like. But what's actually happening? These control points are kind of like masks, and the way to see exactly what a mask is affecting, is to simply enable the Mask View.

Making white backgrounds truly white with Viveza

Any photographer who's ever shot a subject against a pure white background knows that, unless you have really, really good lighting, chances are, you're going to end up with a background like you see here. Where the background is meant to be white, but it really isn't quite perfect all the way around. This usually means a trip to Photoshop. However, I'm going to show you how using the NIK plugin, Vevesa, you can take that white background and make it pure white very easily. The first thing we're going to do is add a few control points. If you're not familiar with control points, here's what happens. First thing I do is, grab a control point, and lay it down wherever I like, and I can make that any size that I like. But what's actually happening? These control points are kind of like masks, and the way to see exactly what a mask is affecting, is to simply enable the Mask View.

Once you've done that, as I make my control point bigger or smaller, you can see exactly what it is and isn't affecting for the image. Anything that's white, it will be effecting. Anything that's black, it will not. So, let's start by adding a number of control points into the corners of the scene to make sure that we are getting the entire background covered quite well. Don't worry about the foreground yet, we'll clean that up later. But for now what I want to do is ensure I'm getting the entire background selected in my mask. What I'm looking for is to have my background look as pure white as possible, while I'm building the mask itself.

Remember, this isn't the actual color. It's just the mask. We'll clean this up a little bit more in a moment. But right now, I want to start knocking out the foreground. As you can see, the mask, as is currently selected, is going to apply a little bit of this effect, whatever it is we decide to do, over hit pants. Quite a bit over his shirt and a bit on his skin as well. Obviously, none of this is acceptable. So, what we need to do is create another series of control points that will essentially cancel out the effect of the first ones, protecting the inside of the image, in this case, him. To do that, we'll add another control point and we'll start by adding one right onto his shirt. Now notice, when I first add it, it just becomes another part of the white mask, which is of course what I don't want to have happen. What I need to do is see this mask against the other ones. So the way to do that is to go back down to the masking control. And disable the masked view for that new control point. Now, what I'm building is a mask that is separating itself from the original, from the background one.

Now, just option Drag around to create a few more of these points. Adjust their sizes appropriately depending on what you're currently adding it to, and very quickly we'll be able to create a pretty good mask separation between the foreground and the background. So we've done a pretty good job of knocking out the foreground. The background though has gotten a little bit worse. So we're going to need to add some more control points to the background. Once again, just grab one of the existing ones and option Drag it to make some more examples of that. If you're in a smaller area like this, you can certainly make the control point a bit smaller.

Double-click at any time to Zoom in to get a closer look at what you're working with. Looks like I need another minus point here. So let's go ahead and add that in. And we're doing pretty well. The beauty of this system is that I don't have to create a totally perfect mask. A general mask is probably going to be good enough. So, before I spend any more time cleaning this mask up, I want to go ahead and apply this effect and see how it looks. Now there's two different approaches here. The first is to take the background and literally make the color white.

And the second is to take the background and brighten it up to the point where we've blown everything out. We're going to try both in here. Now I have a series of control points. It looks like there's, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of them, that are part of the background that I'm going to need to control. I don't want to have to add my changes to each one of those eight control points manually. So what I'll do is I'll group them together. To group them, simply select the ones that you want. Now I find that it's easier to click and Drag over a point to select it. If you just click on a point to select it, you might accidentally move it. So, click and Drag over those points. Hold down the Shift key to make sure you're making a group selection. And then, scroll back up to the top here, and group those together. Now I have a single master control point, that will control all the rest of these. You may want to do the same for the inside, but for now, we're just going to skip that. Now, let's go ahead and turn the masks off.

You can do that universally by clicking on this one here. The first click will turn them all on, and then turn them all off. And now, I'll start effecting the background. As I said there are two different approaches to this. We can make it pure white, or we can blow it out by increasing the brightness. Let's start by making it pure white. Over here, I have the ability to sample the color from another part of the scene. Or in this case, just click on the Color Palette. Click on Pure White. And close that out. And as you can see, it's done a pretty good job of making that background white. I could add a couple more control points to try and get effect these areas here where I've got a little bit of shadow. But what I think might work better here, is if instead of using the white, I simply took the brightness up.

It really just depends on your image. I'll go ahead and reset those control points. And then, again using the master control, take the brightness all the way up. As you can see, it's affected all of these here. The bottom is looking great, the top still needs a little bit more work but that's fine. We can just take these control points, move them around a bit, option Drag to create a couple of new ones. And get this to the point where we are completely blowing out the background. Depending on how bad the background is, in my case here you can see it's pretty bad. I may need to do a little bit of further retouching once I exit the plug in.

But as you can easily see here, we are clearly making a huge, huge difference. There is one more thing that I want to do. This gentleman that we photographed was quite pale. And in fact, he was a little bit sun burned on the day that we shot him here. So, I want to add a little bit of a warmth to his face. As you can see I have these multiple points here already. And since these haven't been grouped yet, I can just go a head and use one of these to effect his overall face. Let's move this one out of the way and just start with a single control point. If you're not seeing all of these controls here. Click on the triangle, which will toggle it open from the basic controls to the advanced ones.

And then the slider you are looking for says WA, which stands for warmth. In this case I'm just going to Drag it up a little bit. Just to add a little bit of warmth to his face. And I think that looks pretty good. Let's do a comparison. I can click on this comparison bar which gives me a little slider that I can Drag back and forth. Or, I can put the two side by side, like so. Overall, I think this is looking pretty good. So, let's go ahead and Save this. As you can see, if we compare the two side by side again, we've done a pretty good job here of creating that white background.

I just still have a little bit of retouching I may need to do, but the vast majority of the work has been done.

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Nik Creative Effects Workshop

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Joseph Linaschke
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