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In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.
So, here we have an image that we want to cut out of its background. It's just a very quick shot. It doesn't need to be all that complicated. Just throw a sheet over a couch here in this example. Put the product shot on there and just take a quick snap. And Photoshop can make pretty quick work of this to remove this bag from its background. We're going to use the Quick Selection tool to do that. And then the goal of this movie is kind of show you that the Quick Selection tool often will get you close to what you're looking for but may not do a hundred percent of the job. But that's okay. If it can do 80 to 90% of the work, and then you can just use a different technique to refine the results and get the result that you're looking for, then that's an okay approach to take.
Let's start up just by dragging through the bag and start making the selection here. As I drag through, I'm not having to hold down any keys and then again just add that to the selection. I'm going to go ahead and click and start dragging through the straps as well to add that to the selection. And I've got a general outline very quickly of just the bag. Now I want to remove the gaps between the straps, so I'll hold down the Option or Alt key and drag or click through those particular areas to subtract that from the initial selection. And here you can start to see where the Quick Selection tool is running into some problems.
You can see here on the upper-right corner of this gap here, it's having a hard time distinguishing between the shadow and the actual strap edge. Rather than trying to zoom in and actually change the brush size to fiddle around with that, I'm going to just leave that for now and that's okay. It's also having a problem with this little corner, this very little narrow gap between these two edges. And again, I could zoom in and start messing around with the brush sizes and then holding down Option and subtracting and so forth. But this is good enough for now. This gets me pretty darn close. What I want to do now is turn this selection into a layer mask and Photoshop has a Masks panel to help me do that.
Over here on the right, I'm going to go ahead and double-click on the gray strip to expand this panel group and here I can see Adjustments and Masks. I'm going to go ahead and click on Masks and right up here on the top there is a button that will convert your current selection, which we have here, into a layer mask. I'm going to go ahead and click that button right there and that converts the selection into a layer mask. You can see in the Layers panel. It converted the background layer for me into a layer that supports transparency and converted our selection into that layer mask. Now everything that's black is hidden.
Where there is black in the layer mask, you've hidden that part of the image. Everywhere where it's white, you revealed that part of the image. Now to make this look a little bit easier to see and understand we're going to put this on a white background behind a solid white background. So, we're going to create a new layer below the current layer. Now the default is if I were to click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, the new layer would go above the active layer. So, I'm going to hold down a shortcut for that. I'm going to hold down the Command key or the Ctrl key in Windows and click that button and the new layer will go below the current layer. Kind of a nice touch there.
All right, we want to fill this layer with white. We can go up to the Edit menu and choose Fill and we'll just use white as the contents. And now we can se our bag more plainly illustrated against that solid white background. Let's go back to the layer mask and select its thumbnail by clicking on the little layer mask thumbnail to put the focus on that object there, on that item. And we want to refine the edge a little bit. I can see it's a little bit soft from the Quick Selection tool, the results that it gave us. I want to firm that up a little bit. To do that, I can use Mask Edge.
So, in the Masks panel, just like there is Refine Edge when you have an active selection, once you have a layer mask applied to a layer you can also use the same functionality. It's just called Mask Edge instead of Refine Edge. So, let's go ahead and click that button, and that same dialog box that comes up when you will use the Refine Edge on a selection is available here. I'm going to go ahead and smooth my selection just a little bit, maybe up to 5, just to give it a little bit more quality there. I'm going to increase the contrast to make it just a little bit sharper, a little crisper along the edges there.
I can also use the Shift Edge slider to either expand or contract the selection a little bit. I'm just going to bring it in just to touch there, and then I'm getting some better results. Okay. So, I am going to go ahead and click OK, and I have adjusted the overall edge quality around the outside edge in the straps. But you can see I've got that remaining gray shadow area detail that I want to get rid of. So, to do that, let's get our Zoom tool. Go ahead and click on the Zoom tool, and I'm just going to click a couple of times around the area that I want to take a look at. And I want to start adding or subtracting to my layer mask.
And that's when you want to switch to a much better Selection tool. You may not think of it as a Selection tool at first, but it's the Painting tools. Most commonly, the Brush tool. I'm going to press the letter B on my keyboard to switch to the Brush tool and you can see I've got a pretty big brush chosen right now. And my brush cursor might look different than yours. Mine has kind of this deckled edge. So, let's go change the Preferences here, so you can actually see where I made my cursor look different. I'm going to hold down Command+K or Ctrl+K to open up the Preferences dialog, and there is a special section called Cursors.
And this is not turned on by default, Full Brush Size Brush Tip. Normal Brush Size Tip is the default, and that just gives you a solid circle cursor. When you turn on Full Size Brush Tip, go ahead and click OK to that, what that does is that makes the edge of the brush speckled or deckled here, if the brush is slightly soft. So, if I want to change my brush size, I can use my left and right bracket keys on the keyboard. So, Left Bracket makes it smaller, Right Bracket makes it bigger. And if I hold the Shift key down in addition to that, so Shift+Left Bracket makes the brush softer, Shift+ Right Bracket makes the brush harder.
So, you can see when I get a very hard brush I'll lose that little deckled edge there to indicate that it's more of a solid brush. All right. So, I am going to take it all the away to hard, so Shift+Right Bracket until I don't see any more adjustment. Then I'm going to come back one notch to softer. So, Shift+Left Bracket just to make it a little bit softer and maybe one more notch. What I'm trying to do is match the edge quality of my brush with the current edge quality of my mask, okay. Now I need to make the brush a little bit smaller. I am just using my Left Bracket to do so. And if it doesn't quite match after I start painting, I can always just fine-tune it until I get it to be exact. All right.
So, what am I painting with? Well, I'm on the layer mask, right? And I have only two colors available, black and white. So, black is going to add to the mask and white is going to subtract from the mask. So, if I want to hide this gray shadow here, I want to be painting with the black color to add that area to be masked. If you need to switch your colors back and forth, you just simply press the X key on your keyboard to exchange your foreground and background colors and you can see those color chips swapping.
So, I've got black selected. I've got my layer mask targeted. And I'm just going to start painting with black along this edge here until we get what we want. Now I'm seeing something interesting here. I'm seeing some light gray being left here because the opacity of my brush, if I took a look at the Options bar for the tool that I currently have chosen, the Opacity setting is set to 70%. Now the default is 100, so obviously, we've been playing around and forgot that setting. To change the opacity of the brush at any time, just press a number. Just like when you're changing the opacity of a layer, if you have the Move tool selected, V for the Move tool and you type a number, that changes the opacity of the selected layer or layers.
When you have a Painting tool selected, changing the number by tapping on your keyboard will change the opacity of the current brush. So, I'm going to press zero to take that Opacity value back to 100% and now I can start painting out that gray shadow here along that edge. And you can see I've done a pretty good job of matching my current edge quality by changing the softness of the brush. Now, I happen to using a Wacom tablet. It makes it much easier to paint out edges. I highly encourage you that if you're going to do a lot of retouching or masking in Photoshop, that you just buy a cheap little Walking tablet.
You can find them used on eBay, or you can even get an entry model for I think $99 and maybe even cheaper than that. You don't need a gigantic huge one. And I'm just going to go through and very quickly click and drag and press-and-drag with the pen that I'm holding. You can use the mouse too. It's just easier if you're using the tablet. And then when I get to the corner I need to make the brush a little bit smaller. So, Left Bracket, make the brush real small, so I can get right into that little corner there, that edge detail and mask that out very quickly. So, you can see it's much easier to do this nondestructive mask editing by using the Brush tool after using the Quick Selection tool to get you almost there.
You can see I'm doing a pretty good job there. Now, if I accidentally go too far, right? I could always undo that. Command+Z and Ctrl+Z. Or if I've done a bunch of masking and I need to really refine an entire area, I'm just going to press the X key on my keyboard to exchange my foreground and background color. And I'll just paint back over that with the opposite color. So, you can have a lot of control over the quality of this mask at all times. I'm just holding down the Spacebar to drag and repan the image around so I can start adjusting this portion of the mask.
Again, I need to start adding to the mask, so I want to paint with black. I'll press X to make black my foreground color again. Maybe increase the size of brush. Right Bracket key to make that a little bit bigger, and I'll just come through and start painting again very quickly. And you can see when I'm using a pen, it's much easier. You can't see that I'm holding a pen, but it's a lot faster than trying to use that mouse. It just feels more natural. Not necessarily a plug for the Wacom tablets but does actually make your Photoshop work a lot easier, if you don't already have one.
Okay, so I'm just coming through that edge there. You can see when I get to that corner I might need to make the brush aize just a little bit smaller, go ahead and do that. And I am just using the Right Bracket key or the Left Bracket key to make it smaller. And there it is. I made pretty short work of that. Now there's a little corner here that I want to adjust, great! So, I'll just come in there very quickly and knock that out. Maybe the one right there. You can see this doesn't have to take a lot of time. I'm just going to hold down the Spacebar and pan around the edges to see how it's doing. There's this little gap up here that I didn't even try to do with the Quick Selection tool, so I'm just going to come in here very quickly and paint out that little thin strip there and add that to my mask, coming along the edge there, and I'm doing a pretty good quick job there. Awesome! Hold down the Spacebar, move it around, and it's looking pretty good.
I'm pretty much done with this mask and this took all of probably a minute if I wasn't talking to you as I was doing it. All right. I'm going to do Fit to Window, Command+ 0 or Ctrl+0, and you can see I've got my bag nicely quickly isolated out of its background by using a combination of that Quick Selection tool and then modifying and retouching that mask by painting with the Brush tool using black and white on the actual layer mask itself. To finish this off, let's go ahead and click on the layer itself. Put the selection border around that thumbnail.
We'll add a quick Drop Shadow effect just to make it pop off the background, and we'll go ahead and click and drag in the image to reposition that shadow exactly where we want it. And maybe I'll go ahead and lower the opacity down by using the Opacity slider and just maybe increasing the size just a little bit. Great! And then to make the bag look a little bit more contrast-y, have a little bit more pop, let's go to our Adjustments panel and we'll add a Levels adjustment. We'll use one of our p resets. This Levels pop-up here has a default.
We'll choose Increase Contrast 2. Just makes it pop a little bit. And I want the colors to be a little bit richer, so I'm going to click the Back button at the bottom-left corner of the Adjustments panel. I am going to add a Vibrance adjustment panel. I'll go ahead and click on the little V icon and we'll take that Vibrance slider up to the right, just to warm up those colors and make it look really nice. So, there we are. That's where we ended up. If I open up my History panel and at the very beginning, I can click on the very first snapshot at the top the list. That will show me what the image looked like when I first opened it.
So, you can see we went from there, and I'll go ahead and undo that Command+Z, Ctrl+Z, to here. And it didn't really take that long to do so. So, there you have it. Great easy ways to combine multiple tools together to get that final result you're looking for.
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