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Alright gang, as promised I am going to show you how to generate a mask for this image. How I selected the foreground away from the background. I am going to warn you though, if you are new to masking, this is very likely to go over your head and I would recommend that you check out our Photoshop CS3 Channels & Mask series, which provides you more information than you would possibly ever want in million years on the topic of generating professional masks inside of Photoshop. But those of you who are moderately familiar with masks, you maybe able to follow along and get a sense of how this particular mask was created.
Just in the name of full disclosure, I want to go ahead and pass along this information. Alright, so I am working inside of a catch-up document called Sharper background.PSD that's found inside the 07_For_Effect folder. I am going to turn off the Smart Filter, so that we are looking at the original unsharpened version of the image, then I am going to go to the Channels palette. Now as you may kNow masking is the art of using the image to select itself. So I am going to see which of my color channels is best suited to distinguish the foreground image from the background.
I am going to start with a red channel. Now he is resonating most brightly in the red channel, as we all do, regardless of race, religion, creed, color, doesn't matter. Whatever the issues that divide us in life the one thing that joins us, at least where a Photoshop and digital photography is concerned, is that we all resonate most brightly inside of the red channel. The green channel is going to be the detail channel. It may provide us with a highest degree of the edge contrast, which it does in the case of this image, and then there is a blue channel, which is the murkiest channel traditionally.
Lets go to the green channel. I am going to grab the green channel and I am going to duplicate it by dragging it down on this little page icon at the bottom of the Channels palette and then I am going to rename this My Mask. Now lets go ahead and apply a Levels adjustment by pressing Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac because we need more contrast at this point. I am going to change the black point to 60 and I am going to tab a couple of times and change the white point to 160 in order to exaggerate the amount of contrast in this image. Bear in mind, I am trying to select the background, which means I need the background to be white and the foreground to be black.
I am trying to get as close as I can to a white background and a black foreground without utterly and completely destroying the soft edges, the soft natural transitions inside the image. Right, now click OK. Now I have destroyed his- what appears to us to be the left ear, it is actually his right ear of course. So I need to go ahead and select this ear, bring it back in, apply a different modification to it. So I am going to grab my Elliptical Marquee tool and I am not going to creat a highly accurate selection around the ear, I am just going to creat a more or less sort of vague selection around the ears, we are going to see here.
I am going to grab that ear and drag down to about here in order to select this region and I am trying to be kind of careful around the collar because I don't want to select too much. Alright, so that gets us the ear stuff gone wrong inside of this particular channel and actually I have nudged it over just a little bit by pressing the Right arrow key a couple of times. Alright, now lets go back to the green channel and I am going to press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac in order to copy that information and then I am going to go back to My Mask and I am going to press Ctrl+V or Command+V of the Mac in order to paste that ear into place so that it registers right into that selection.
Now I am going to press Ctrl+L or Command+L again in order to once again bring up the Levels dialog box And I am going to change the first value, the black point value, the first value to 140, tab, tab over the white point value and change it to 235, for this specific image of course. These are not magical values, these are values designed to accommodate this specific photograph and I will click OK in order to accept that change. I will click off the image and things look pretty darn good. We have a little bit of a weird edge on that collar and if I wanted to fix it, I would bring up the History palette and I would scroll down just a little bit, I would go ahead and select Nudge Outline, the step right before Paste, as my Source State right there and then I would go ahead and get my History Brush right here, select it, make sure my mode is set to Normal, Opacity a 100%, that I have a hard edge brush at this point and then I would paint that little bit of garbage away like so.
Alright, now I am going to go ahead and zoom on. I will close my History palette as well. Now at this point what you want to do is you want to do some overlay painting in order to fix the image selectively and again this is something I go into elaborate detail about inside of my Channels & Masks series. I am going to grab the Brush tool and I am going to change the mode to Overlay and that allows me to exaggerate the contrast inside the image. Now currently the foreground color is white, I want to change it to black. I have got a soft brush, which is imperative. My opacity is set to 100%, that's just fine.
I will go ahead and increase the size of my brush and then I am going to paint in the shadow detail here, notice that my brush is only affecting the shadow detail, it is not painting black into the highlights at all and it's actually protecting the highlights inside of his face as well including his earrings and so on. Alright, so I just want to paint in the edge detail. I don't care about the way interior of the photograph. I am just concerned about this stuff along the edges here and this actually looks pretty good where the stuff inside of the man is concerned.
Now lets work on the background. By pressing the X key, I will switch foreground color to white and I will paint the background away. Now I may end up digging into the foreground as well a little bit of course. That's to be expected, but I should more or less, by virtue of the Overlay mode, I am more or less limiting my modifications to the background at this point because that's where the highlights reside. But I do have a little bit of an issue on that collar; I will come back to that in just a moment. So things are working out pretty nicely. I will just keep painting a little bit until I get what work I need to get done, done.
Alright, now press the X key and I will switch back to black. I will paint that collar back in and now we are ready to make some gross modifications, by which I mean some big modifications, using a Lasso tool. I am going to Alt-click or Option-click with a Lasso tool in order to get access to my Polygonal Lasso and I am going to encircle roughly around this fellow here to get the garbage on the inside of him. Notice I am kind of leaving the earrings behind. Darn that guy for wearing earrings because they are creating problems for me right now.
Alright, so I am selecting the majority of the stuff inside of him and pressing Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to fill the image with the foreground color, which happens to be black in my case. Now I will click off of the selection in order to deselect it and I will Alt-click again around the background portion of the image like So this would be Option-clicking on the Mac, in order to select the background and I just want to make sure I am getting the garbage I didn't account for. Looks like I left a little bit of weirdness right down in this area, I will take care of that in a moment. I am going to press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac in order to fill that area with white.
Now I will deselect the image, I will get my Paint Brush tool right there because I missed a spot. I will press the X key because I want to paint it with white and I will paint that away. Good, that's done. Alright there is just the earrings that are left folks. Lets go ahead and zoom in. Actually we've got some stuff inside of his hair too, we will take care of that in just a moment. I am going to go ahead and get the Elliptical Marquee tool once again because it is kind of an earlobe shaped and I will go ahead and select this rough region of the ear to the best of my ability. I will press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete to fill that with black and I will move over to this area to get this earring and you may know that you can move a Marquee around as you draw it by pressing the Spacebar and you release the Spacebar when you are done. Press Ctrl+ Backspace or Command+Delete once again to get rid of that earring.
There is a little spot that I need to set to white, so I will press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to get rid of it. And then fortunately his head is fairly round, so I can get rid of some these hair highlights pretty easily here just by selecting them with the Elliptical Marquee Tool and I will press Ctrl Backspace or Command Delete on the Mac in order to fill that area with black and I will also fill this area with black in a similar fashion and these area with black as well. And this guy just a little bit of clean up that we are doing here, this guy with black as well. Alright, so this looks good. That is basically how I created the mask.
It goes pretty quickly once you know what you are doing. If you don't know what you are doing, once again the only way to learn is to check out Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks. In the next exercise, we are going to go ahead and leave this mask of course and we are going to see how we can take care of that little problem I was telling you where we have a bit of a halo around the shoulders and around the hair and so on, so that our Unsharp Mask version of the background blends very nicely with the foreground image. Stay tuned.
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