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Masking hair against complex background

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  #1  
Old 11-23-2013, 02:46 PM
yzhellnot yzhellnot is offline
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Masking hair against complex background

Hi, first time post here so many thanks in advance for your help.

I am having difficulty creating a mask for the hair in this image. The purpose of the mask is to overlay some color and levels adjustment layers to change the look of the hair but can't get it to look right in the wispy areas.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
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File Type: jpg hair_mask.jpg (91.6 KB, 116 views)
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Old 11-23-2013, 04:28 PM
Wolfman Wolfman is offline
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Re: Masking hair against complex background

The first thing that comes to mind is color range under select in photoshop….the hair is the only thing that is that color so the selection should be easy with a little careful work…click the localized color box to get a more accurate selection and work the fuzzy slider and the + eye dropper.
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:18 PM
yzhellnot yzhellnot is offline
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Re: Masking hair against complex background

Thanks Wolfman,

The image I posted may be a little misleading as a lot of the hair has already had the pink color applied. If you look around the edges closer to the bottom you will see the places I am having trouble.
I did try using the color select but the original hair color is close to the BG in a lot of places and I was not able to get it to work well. I did not persevere with it too long so may take another look at it, thanks.
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:48 PM
Wolfman Wolfman is offline
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Re: Masking hair against complex background

You could also work it in the refine edge under select….try the smart radius in refine edge to dig a little deeper.
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:52 PM
yzhellnot yzhellnot is offline
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Re: Masking hair against complex background

Is this something that fluid mask, or another plugin may be able to help with?
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:36 PM
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0lBaldy 0lBaldy is offline
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Re: Masking hair against complex background

yzhellnot,Welcome to RetouchPRO Hope you enjoy your stay here and make lots of friends. Poke around, ask questions, offer help, have fun!

If you are using PS5 or above this video from Russell Brown may hekp.. it works great on hair
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:42 PM
klev klev is offline
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Re: Masking hair against complex background

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Originally Posted by yzhellnot View Post
Is this something that fluid mask, or another plugin may be able to help with?
You could do most of that masking with a paintbrush tool. Plugins will be 0 help. You'll just notice problems upon zooming in. If you get a good outline and feather a pixel if necessary, you'll be fine. I will mention that you made the shadows look kind of weird. The same goes for the highlights. It would need a lot of work to really sell the image, but looking at just masking, you'll have to deal quite a lot with color correction rather than rely solely on masked or not masked. The alternative is that you could make the strands much more bold like they're opaque and clearly delineated from the background or lit much differently than it. I don't think that's what you want here though. In either case the way you're trying to deal with it is a futile effort. There is no way to just cleanly separate such things in a raster image when the pixels contain influence from both things. Perhaps if the resolution was insane and you had a per channel alpha, but photoshop doesn't even support such a thing, and it's doable without that.
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Old 11-24-2013, 02:59 AM
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Repairman Repairman is offline
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Re: Masking hair against complex background

What klev said. Wispy hair - these are often lighter or darker than the background colour because of background lighting or hair tint. If the hair colour or background changes the erstwhile 'dark' wispy hairs may well need to become 'light' hairs. A fiddly change because they are usually only a pixel or two thick and drop in and out of focus. For that reason I would work with a fine brush and either 'paint' strands or 'restore' the target colour through a layer mask. Easier done on a good budget of course! The body of the hair looks like you have used a wash of colour and the hi/lo lights are not realistic for much the same reason as above. It's not unattractive but if the rest of the image is natural in look and feel then it may struggle to look plausible. I have never seen an automatic masking tool than didn't require hand work to finish of the detail.
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Old 11-24-2013, 06:37 PM
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Re: Masking hair against complex background

Repairman and Klev. Agree with you both. Never, ever saw a masking App or plugin that worked as it suggested. When it gets down to it, the apps simply are working as programmed and not thinking "or seeing" as you are. There is always some hand work or subtle refinement in the detail areas.
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Old 11-24-2013, 07:36 PM
klev klev is offline
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Re: Masking hair against complex background

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Originally Posted by daygraphics View Post
Repairman and Klev. Agree with you both. Never, ever saw a masking App or plugin that worked as it suggested.
Think of how long they've been around and the fundamental nature of masking or selection. If there was a great way to approach this within the photoshop API, Adobe would have implemented a baseline function by now. We have all seen how much they try to update auto-selection tools.

There are seemingly rational methods, but none work perfectly in practice, and all are complicated by the need to conform values to pixel dimensions, especially with something like hair. Hair is inherently difficult to quantify by means of returned reflections, as it crosses various pixels. Taking everything up to the point of a processed tiff file as a black box algorithm still leaves you with the issue of how to describe hair and background as separate objects without a given pixel having a "total" alpha below 100%. The most logical way I could think of given a linear color library would be a hair alpha applied per channel against a known referenced RGB determined to be near 100% alpha. When calculating an averaged alpha for the pixel itself, the contributions would have to be readjusted per channel. As I mention though most applications can't handle per primary alpha, as the monochromatic channels in themselves are essentially that. I can think of a few ways to hack it together. If I didn't hate javascript with a passion, I might consider writing something to attempt such a method of selection.
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