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Smoothing the mask, recreating the corners

From: Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

Video: Smoothing the mask, recreating the corners

In this exercise, we're going to smooth out the edges around the shark using an old-school technique that involves Gaussian Blur and the Levels command, and then we'll restore a few corners using the Magnetic Lasso tool. I've saved my progress as Levitating shark.psd, and if you zoom-in on the detail of the shark such as the tail here, you can see that we've got a few jags going on, and I want to smooth those away and here's how you do that. Switch over to the layer Mask for that shark layer. So click on the thumbnail to make sure it's active. Then, you go up to the Filter menu, you choose Blur, and you choose Gaussian Blur and this is a recipe that works beautifully for just about any image.

Smoothing the mask, recreating the corners

In this exercise, we're going to smooth out the edges around the shark using an old-school technique that involves Gaussian Blur and the Levels command, and then we'll restore a few corners using the Magnetic Lasso tool. I've saved my progress as Levitating shark.psd, and if you zoom-in on the detail of the shark such as the tail here, you can see that we've got a few jags going on, and I want to smooth those away and here's how you do that. Switch over to the layer Mask for that shark layer. So click on the thumbnail to make sure it's active. Then, you go up to the Filter menu, you choose Blur, and you choose Gaussian Blur and this is a recipe that works beautifully for just about any image.

I'm going to change the Radius value in this case to 4 pixels, that's what I ended up coming up with. But, you want a value that's large enough to blur away those jagged edges, so that we have some smooth forms going on. Now, you don't want it to be too big either, so as low as you can go. In our case, as I say, that's 4 pixels, go ahead and click OK. Now, the next step is to go ahead and firm up those blurry edges, and you do that by going up to the Image menu, choosing Adjustments, and then choosing the Levels command, or you press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac.

Notice now I can choke and spread those edges using a combination of the Black Point value and the White Point value. So if I drag on the Black slider Triangle, I will choke the edges as you see happening on screen here. So the edges are moving inward. If I do the opposite, if I move the Black Point down, and I drag the White Triangle over to the left, then I end up spreading out those edges. The values I came up with for this image are 200 for the White point value, and then 150 for that Black point, and so I am generally scooting those edges inward because my Black point value is still very high. All right.

Now I will go ahead and click on the OK button in order to accept those changes. And incidentally, when you're masking an image against a new background, you tend to want to choke the edges, because usually, you want less of the image as opposed to more, that way you don't get a lot of color fringing. All right. Now, I am going to go ahead and drag the image over. Now, the thing is we can't really see that much in a way of color fringing right now because our foreground image came from a blue background and we've now composited him against a new blue background.

So we've got kind of a match going on. We're fortunate in that regard, and that is a tip, by the way. The easiest way to get good results is to make sure your foreground and your background vaguely match each other. We will see all kinds of exceptions to that in future projects. But for now, what I am going to suggest you do to really get a sense of what's going on in this image, let's recolor the shark so he doesn't match the background, and we'll do that by dropping down to the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, then choose Color Overlay, and red happens to be a great color because it's going to stand out from that background nicely.

However, we're going to change the Blend mode from Normal to Hue, and that way we're bringing in the red hues, but we're retaining the original saturation values and the original luminance levels as well. Then click OK. Now, sort of scan around inside the image for corners that have gone wrong;, for example, right there at that location, we've lost a corner. That happens when you smooth. Anytime you smooth out a mask, you're going to end up rounding corners as well. The best way to reinstate those corners is to grab the Magnetic Lasso tool. So I'll go ahead and choose the Magnetic Lasso from the Lasso tool flyout menu.

I was telling you back when I introduced this tool that it's not a great tool for selecting an entire image because it takes forever. However, it's an awesome tool for re-establishing corners. So I will go ahead and click next to the shark fin, then click on the corner that I am trying to reinstate, and then I'll click out here in order to trace that corner like so, and then I will just move my cursor out a little bit and double-click in order to finalize the selection. I want to fill that area inside the layer Mask with black. Black is currently my foreground color, so I am going to press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete, then I'll press Ctrl+ D or Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect that area.

Now, if you don't get it exactly right, that's okay, you can always follow up with something like the Smudge tool. I am going to go ahead and grab the Smudge tool and I want to show you that I've set the Strength value to 100%, and that's a great setting for moving pixels inside the mask around. But, if you're going to work that way, then you need to work with a small cursor like so, maybe take it up just a tad and you want to drag just ever so slightly inside the image. In this case, I dragged maybe a pixel, and that's about it. I will drag again, and you can see as I am dragging, we're really moving that edge around.

All right. That looks pretty good. I'll go ahead and scroll to a different location, something like this area right here, could use a little work, and you might be able to do it entirely using the Smudge tool. I will go ahead and try that out. That looks okay I guess, I kind of went a little too far with that adjustment right there, take that out a little bit those guys, and maybe move back in a little bit as well. All right. Let's try this corner, and see if we can do it with the Smudge tool and that looks pretty good to me. Again, we're going to be able to get away with more in this image because after all we're not really going to paint the shark red. All right.

At this location right here, in the underside of the shark's mouth or whatever, we've cut the selection into the shark a little bit too much, and that doesn't make sense. So what we're going to need to do is Shift+Click on that layer Mask thumbnail, there in the Layers panel in order to temporarily turn the layer Mask off. Let's also go ahead, and turn the Effects off for a moment, and then I'm going to go at this area right here using the Magnetic Lasso once again. So I'll switch to the Magnetic Lasso tool which I can get by pressing the L key, and then I'll click well into this area and I'll just click going down along the bottom right there, pretty far along till maybe about here is going to work for me probably, and then I will move into the shark, like so.

I don't really care that I get anything else exactly right, and then finally I'll click on that first point in order to close out the selection. Now, Shift+Click on the layer Mask thumbnail again to turn it back on, and we also want to turn the Effects back on. All right. Notice that this isn't going to be a good match, it will work out great over here on the left-hand side next to the fin, but down here along the bottom of the animal, we're going to have a problem if we just fill-in this selection. So we need to sort of rotate the selection ever so slightly, and here is how you do that. Go up to the Select menu and choose the Transform Selection command, and that'll bring up that Transformation Bounding Box.

Now, drag this target in the center right there over to this location, right there at the intersection of the bottom of the animal, and that fin and then move your cursor down here bottom- right until you're outside of the Bounding Box, so that you can rotate and just drag up ever so slightly, so that you rotate that selection outline into position, so you've got a match. Then press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to complete that transformation and now with the layer Mask active, which it is, I can fill this region with white, because I want to paint the shark in, by pressing Ctrl+Backspace here on the PC, or Command+Delete on the Mac, and then I will press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect the image. All right.

That looks good. We've got a little corner that we could work on right there, so I'll just go ahead and click around it there if I can with the Magnetic Lasso tool. This can be a little tricky by the way, and I want to scoot that guy down and in a little bit, and I did that just by pressing the Arrow keys and now I will press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to fill that area with black and I will press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to deselect the image. Let's see what else we've got? This might be about the extent of it, there are not too many corners in this animal to worry about. Everything else actually looks pretty darn good.

I guess I could nudge this area in just a little bit using the Smudge tool once again. So I will go ahead and select the Smudge tool, and this time I am going to take the Strength value to 50% which is the default setting by pressing the 5 key, and I'll increase the size of my cursor by pressing left bracket a few times, just kind of scoot that edge in ever so slightly. I believe that takes care of it. I will go ahead and zoom out here, so that I can take in more of the animal. No, there is one more thing that needs to be addressed here. This corner right there is a problem. So I will go ahead and switch back to the Magnetic Lasso tool and then click along like so into the corner if I can.

If that thing stops wobbling around, you may have to click a few times to get it right and then double-click in order to finalize the selection, press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on the Mac to fill it with black, press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect, and we've got ourselves a nicely outlined shark here. I'll press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on a Mac to center the zoom, and I will go ahead and turn off the Color Overlay Effect. Don't turn off the Effects in general, just Color Overlay, because we're going to be adding a couple of more in the very next exercise.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals
Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

128 video lessons · 29285 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 15m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. Loading my custom dekeKeys shortcuts
      3m 45s
    3. Adjusting the color settings
      4m 29s
    4. Setting up a power workspace
      5m 59s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. The channel is the origin of masking
      1m 54s
    2. The Masks and Channels panels
      4m 48s
    3. How color channels work
      7m 7s
    4. Viewing channels in color
      3m 24s
    5. How RGB works
      4m 12s
    6. Single-channel grayscale
      5m 12s
    7. Mixing a custom "fourth" channel
      5m 15s
    8. The other three-channel mode: Lab
      5m 45s
    9. A practical application of Lab
      4m 55s
    10. The final color mode: CMYK
      7m 5s
    11. Introducing the Multichannel mode
      5m 56s
    12. Creating a unique multichannel effect
      5m 18s
  3. 44m 27s
    1. The alpha channel is home to the mask
      1m 40s
    2. The origins of the alpha channel
      3m 40s
    3. How a mask works
      7m 10s
    4. Making an alpha channel
      4m 2s
    5. Using the new channel icons
      6m 27s
    6. Saving an image with alpha channels
      4m 23s
    7. Loading a selection from a channel
      4m 7s
    8. Putting a mask into play
      3m 55s
    9. Loading a selection from a layer
      4m 27s
    10. Loading a selection from another image
      4m 36s
  4. 1h 0m
    1. The mask meets the composition
      1m 8s
    2. Viewing a mask as a rubylith overlay
      6m 13s
    3. Changing a mask's overlay color
      5m 34s
    4. Painting inside a mask
      6m 3s
    5. Cleaning up and confirming
      5m 18s
    6. Combining masks
      5m 10s
    7. Painting behind and inside a layer
      5m 27s
    8. Blending image elements
      6m 1s
    9. What to do when layers go wrong
      6m 3s
    10. Hiding layer effects with a mask
      4m 22s
    11. Introducing clipping masks
      5m 29s
    12. Unclipping and masking a shadow
      3m 50s
  5. 1h 35m
    1. The seven selection soldiers
      52s
    2. The marquee tools
      6m 31s
    3. The single-pixel tools (plus tool tricks)
      6m 48s
    4. Turning a destructive edit into a layer
      5m 34s
    5. Making shapes of specific sizes
      7m 7s
    6. The lasso tools
      5m 49s
    7. Working with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      7m 19s
    8. The Quick Selection tool
      8m 13s
    9. Combining Quick Selection and Smudge
      4m 52s
    10. The Magic Wand and the Tolerance value
      6m 55s
    11. Contiguous and Anti-aliased selections
      6m 58s
    12. Making a good selection with the Magic Wand
      6m 34s
    13. Selecting and replacing a background
      6m 55s
    14. Resolving edges with layer effects
      7m 52s
    15. Adding lines of brilliant gold type
      7m 28s
  6. 1h 11m
    1. Selections reign supreme
      55s
    2. Introducing "selection calculations"
      4m 19s
    3. Combining two different tools
      7m 29s
    4. Selections and transparency masks
      5m 17s
    5. Selecting an eye
      7m 1s
    6. Masking and blending a texture into skin
      5m 1s
    7. Painting a texture into an eye
      4m 19s
    8. Combining layers, masks, channels, and paths
      4m 54s
    9. Moving selection outlines vs. selected pixels
      5m 36s
    10. Transforming and warping a selection outline
      7m 45s
    11. Pasting an image inside a selection
      7m 26s
    12. Adding volumetric shadows and highlights
      6m 54s
    13. Converting an image into a mask
      4m 42s
  7. 1h 5m
    1. The best selection tools are commands
      1m 5s
    2. Introducing the Color Range command
      5m 59s
    3. Working in the Color Range dialog box
      7m 7s
    4. Primary colors and luminance ranges
      4m 12s
    5. A terrific use for Color Range
      4m 57s
    6. Introducing the Quick Mask mode
      7m 43s
    7. Moving a selection into a new background
      5m 43s
    8. Smoothing the mask, recreating the corners
      8m 43s
    9. Integrating foreground and background
      4m 44s
    10. Creating a cast shadow from a layer
      2m 51s
    11. Releasing and masking layer effects
      3m 11s
    12. Creating a synthetic rainbow effect
      4m 30s
    13. Masking and compositing your rainbow
      4m 46s
  8. 1h 17m
    1. The ultimate in masking automation
      1m 6s
    2. Introducing the Refine Mask command
      6m 58s
    3. Automated edge detection
      8m 23s
    4. Turning garbage into gold
      6m 19s
    5. Starting with an accurate selection
      7m 11s
    6. Selection outline in, layer mask out
      7m 48s
    7. Matching a scene with Smart Filters
      4m 29s
    8. Cooling a face, reflecting inside eyes
      4m 45s
    9. Creating a layer of ghoulish skin
      4m 28s
    10. Adding dark circles around the eyes
      5m 20s
    11. Creating a fake blood effect
      5m 38s
    12. Establishing trails of blood
      7m 40s
    13. Integrating the blood into the scene
      7m 3s
  9. 1h 48m
    1. Using the image to select itself
      1m 37s
    2. Choosing the ideal base channel
      5m 7s
    3. Converting a channel into a mask
      6m 34s
    4. Painting with the Overlay mode
      7m 27s
    5. Painting with the Soft Light mode
      5m 55s
    6. Mask, composite, refine, and blend
      4m 40s
    7. Creating a more aggressive mask
      7m 2s
    8. Blending differently masked layers
      7m 0s
    9. Creating a hair-only mask
      6m 0s
    10. Using history to regain a lost mask
      3m 42s
    11. Separating flesh tones from hair
      8m 28s
    12. Adjusting a model's color temperature
      4m 30s
    13. Introducing the Calculations command
      7m 22s
    14. Extracting a mask from a Smart Object
      6m 34s
    15. Integrating a bird into a new sky
      5m 40s
    16. Creating synthetic rays of light
      6m 4s
    17. Masking and compositing light
      7m 39s
    18. Introducing a brilliant light source
      7m 5s
  10. 1h 34m
    1. The synthesis of masking and compositing
      1m 36s
    2. White reveals, black conceals
      6m 45s
    3. Layer masking tips and tricks
      5m 8s
    4. Generating a layer mask with Color Range
      5m 38s
    5. The Masks panel's bad options
      5m 18s
    6. The Masks panel's good options
      3m 50s
    7. Creating and feathering a vector mask
      3m 42s
    8. Combining pixel and vector masks
      3m 50s
    9. Working with path outlines
      7m 10s
    10. Combining paths into a single vector mask
      7m 52s
    11. Sharpening detail, reducing color noise
      4m 27s
    12. Recreating missing details
      8m 49s
    13. Masking glass
      5m 50s
    14. Refining a jagged Magic Wand mask
      5m 53s
    15. Masking multiple layers at one time
      5m 15s
    16. Establishing a knockout layer
      6m 6s
    17. Clipping and compositing tricks
      7m 37s
  11. 1m 17s
    1. Next steps
      1m 17s

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