When Color Range falls short
When Color Range falls short
Now remember how at the outset of the first exercise of this chapter I showed you how the Magic Wand tool was is no way, shape or form powerful enough in order to select that glass and that water and all that Chas. Well now I would like to show you how the Color Range command sometimes falls down in the job too. Even though it's a much more powerful feature than the Magic Wand it isn't up to the task of selecting every image out there by a darn site. So make sure that you have the faceinthedark.tif image opened so we can see the Pascal Genest photograph.
I would also like you to go ahead and the press the D as in default colors key, just D by itself in order to reset the foreground color to black or at least to make sure it's black if it already was and the reason I am having you do that is I want to go ahead and select black inside the image. This is another one of those images where it's easier to select the background than it is to select all the colors going on in the foreground and the Color Range command will by default go after that foreground color. So now let's go up to the Select menu and choose the Color Range command and these are the usual default settings fuzziness of 40 and all that Chas and notice that sure enough it is gone ahead and made the black areas of the image white in order to demonstrate to us that, that's the portion of the image that's going to select.
Now I am going to change the selection preview by the way to grey scale so that we can really focus in on what this selection looks like out here inside of the image window and notice that it's not only selecting blacks over here in the background over on the left side of the image but it's also selecting the shaded portion of the face on the right side of the image as well as some of the shading here in the hair and that's because the Color Range command is always selecting any colors that fall inside of its fuzziness range whether they are adjacent or non-adjacent.
So remember that contiguous checkbox we saw then in Chapter8 that contiguous checkbox that's associated with the Magic Wand tool. Well it's as if that checkbox is always turned off so that the Color Range command is invariably selecting on adjacent pixels and there is nothing you can do about that, which is a little bit of a downside actually associated with this command frankly. Alright another weirdness is that it's getting a lot of noise. I am going to ahead and zoom in on this image, see all this weird sort of pixel variation that's going on here, that's digital noise inside of the mask and the Color Range command is picking up a ton of that noise.
Now we can smooth up some of that noise by brining up the fuzziness value like so. As we do I will go ahead and zoom back out here and notice that when I press and hold the Control key or the Command key on the Mac I see the standard version of the image inside of this preview in case you are wondering what's going on and I am having to press the Control key in order to zoom in and out that's why we are seeing that flash every once in a while. In any case notice that by raising the fuzziness value I do soften some of the noise inside of the image and some of the stair stepping and the achier stuff that's going on but it also creates a more tenuous transition between the foreground image which is the woman and the background which is of course that black background.
Alright and anyway this is fairly good actually so far. I would however want to go ahead and reverse this selection because I don't want to select the background and I do want to select the foreground so I am going to turn on the invert checkbox. Now at this point you might say hey why don't we try adding a few colors to the selection inside of the hair, why don't we don't we do that and then we will make the hair more clearly defined from its background. Well you don't want to be shift clicking here. If you shift click here you are actually going to make the image darker. Isn't that bizarre? You are actually going to be making the mask darker and therefore you are going to be deselecting and that's a function of having the Invert Checkbox turned on so now Shift Clicking deletes from the selection and Alt Clicking adds to the selection so let's undo that last modification and instead let's press the Alt or Option key in order to get the minus sign next to the eyedropper here and then click inside the hair.
And did you hear that little beep? That's the Color Range command's way of telling you there is no more to delete from this selection. You only had one base color setup in the first place black and you can't delete anything from a single base color so forget about it. This is the mask we got. Our only option is to reduce or increase the fuzziness value and if we reduce it we are going to strengthen the hair information but we are also going to get more noise so I suggest we leave it set to 100 and then click OK in order to convert that mask to a selection.
Now let's convert it back to a mask which is something we can do of course by saving the selection outline. I am going to press Shift+Tab to bring back my palettes and I want you to switch over to the Channels Palette next door to the Layers palette or you can go up to the Window menu and choose the Channels command or use my keyboard shortcut that I have provided to those of you who are using my D keys. Alright so I have got the Channels Palette up on screen. I was telling you back in Chapter8 you can save the selection by going up to the Select menu and choosing the Save Selection command but I got to tell you now that's the sucker's way.
No sense in doing that my friends because there is a much easier single click solution here inside of Photoshop. In the Channels Palette go to the bottom the Channels Palette and you will see this little icon right there. If you hover over it it's going to say Save Selection As Channel. Go ahead and click on it and it converts the selection to a new alpha channel called Alpha1. Now an Alpha channel is a non-color bearing channel inside of Photoshop, usually used to house a mask which is what we are using it for.
So there is it is. There is Alpha1. I am going to go ahead and press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to get rid of the marching and style selections so we can just focus in on this Alpha channel version of the selection outline. Go ahead and double click on it and let's just call this guy color range so we remember where it came from later and then later I will be able to show you how it compares to the better mass that we are going to create. Now here is the problem. It looks pretty darn good I would say but there is so much darkness inside this area that we need to select and there is so much noise and just weird transition, check out this neck.
That's not a portion of the image that we are going to have to worry about in terms of generating the mask too much but it certainly is indicative of just how weird the shades that were generated by the Color Range command. Compare that to the final mask. Now I have got the head included in Alpha channel called maskforyou which represents the mask that we will be creating here. Compare these two alpha channels together so a mask looks very good that is to say that we have white, where we want to select the head and the hair detail. We have black where we don't want to select the background and we have nice soft transitions in between, nice grey transitions whereas with the color range command we have a lot of noise and we have a lot of weird guck that we are going to have to deal within this region right there which is why I am going to tell you we could make the Color Range Mask work that is possible but it's not worth it because there is an easier way to go at it and a more precise way as well which we will begin to investigate in the next exercise.
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