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Help with masking a horse & rider

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  #1  
Old 11-11-2010, 09:17 AM
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Mike Needham Mike Needham is offline
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Help with masking a horse & rider

Hi all, I have a series of images that I need to extract/mask the horse and rider from, all the images are similar and have complicated backgrounds, I am having kittens with the tail area of the horse and have tried a few mask attempts without any great success, any help anyone could offer would be appreciated, I'm going grey over this

Sorry for the quality of the image, I compressed to fit onto these forums.
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:58 AM
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Cool Re: Help with masking a horse & rider

It's doable, but be aware that it will be a very manual job...

Attached my test on the low-res image.

What I did was the following:

1. I masked the horse (minus problem tail) and rider using the pen tool to create a vector mask.

2. Since the hoofs interact a lot with the ground I decided to keep a circle for the ground as well, also a vector mask, with some feather applied in the Mask panel. You don't have to do this, but I think it looked nice.

3. For the tail I created a selection using Select Color (but other tools might work as well), then I cleaned up the selection a bit and used Refine Edges (this has been GREATLY improved in Photoshop CS5). The selection was then used as a mask. I then manually brushed in some missing parts of the tail, and erased others (this part is easier if you have a Wacom tablet, but can be done with a mouse as well – set flow to a low setting). Parts of the tail looked too dark for the white background so I finished it up by brightening the edges and dark areas.
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File Type: png layers.png (4.2 KB, 60 views)
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:28 AM
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Mike Needham Mike Needham is offline
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Re: Help with masking a horse & rider

It's amazing how similar your method was to one of mine. I used the pen tool for the horse and rider (only the ears and backs of hoofs was a fluffy hair problem) and I also left a cirlce/vignette under the horse (I also tried a painterly scattering of ground in watercolour treatment).

Unbelievably I have tried most masking methods, including calculations, but have not tried the refine edges in Photoshop, I will try and see where it takes me, thanks for taking the time Chain (I know how everyone must love another masking question) Thanks too for showing your work-flow.
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:55 AM
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Re: Help with masking a horse & rider

http://www.weebls-stuff.com/songs/Amazing+Horse/

Refine edge, increase radius, and perhaps some contrast. Set smooth/feather/expand/contract to 0 for starters then tweak if needed. Due to the "noisy" backgound you will need to clean it up manually. I don't have CS5 here right now so can't guide you on the exact settings for automatic defringing, but in my example i did not use it (as I was on CS4).

Either way, you probably have to manually grab your brush to refine the mask and then do some selective brightening etc. on the edges... Before manual refining there were parts of the tail missing, and a bunch of spots from the background that i had to remove...

Last edited by Chain; 11-12-2010 at 08:06 AM.
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:32 PM
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Mike Needham Mike Needham is offline
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Re: Help with masking a horse & rider

Cheers again Chain, dead on with the 'noisy' background. I wondered if a bit of smudging (in moderation) might also help some of my dodgier edges, particularly the end of the tail.
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Old 11-13-2010, 03:46 AM
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Re: Help with masking a horse & rider

Smudging in the mask would help in the same way as manually brushing some. It's up to you what you prefer really and what gives you the best result. If you do not have a wacom tablet smudging might be easier than brushing it in...
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Old 12-16-2010, 02:00 PM
korvinsnerf korvinsnerf is offline
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Re: Help with masking a horse & rider

Thanks alot CHAIN,I just spent the last 18 hours watching the Amazing Horse.
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:04 PM
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Re: Help with masking a horse & rider

what a lesson to thank for...
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:34 PM
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Daviskw Daviskw is offline
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Re: Help with masking a horse & rider

Sometimes it is a waste of time to use complicated extraction routines.

Below is a 5 minute job... I used the pen tool to get close then just added and subtracted with small brushes on the mask... It does not take long and is easy to do... Just turn the gray layer or what ever new background off then with the mask active paint over the hair as needed.

ps... you could save a few of the good extractions and paste them where needed maybe with a little warp.

Butch
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Old 02-19-2011, 08:04 PM
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Re: Help with masking a horse & rider

Again... I agree with you Butch in that we often spend way too much time looking for that "magic bullet" or some quick filter or mask program - that ends up being very long and in the end - not so good. I would do something very similar to what you have done here.
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