avoiding the paper doll look?
How do I avoid the look that she was cut out and glued on?
Also, any suggestions on creating a background? I used 2 shades of blue and tried to vary the color to simulate a 'real' photographers background. Is there a better way to do this?
I don't have a good trick for the background but to avoid the paper doll cut out look you need to feather your selections and the higher the resolution of the image the higher the number of feather (example for 200 dpi maybe a feather of 3 pixels but for a 600 dpi you need to maybe make it around 7 or 10 even). Sometimes the background is picked up in the feathering and will show against the new background especially if there is a big difference in color or contrast. What you can do then is go to Layer > Matting and choose defringe or remove black matte if you are putting an image from a dark background against a light background or remove white matte if you are putting a light background image against a dark background. Try them out and see how each option works to best judge your circumstance. Another trick to see how things are blending is to add and adjustment layer of Brightness/ Contrast and move the brightness up so you can see what's going on in the shadow areas. Because sometimes you can't see how something in the shadow is blended on your monitor but your print will definately show it. Discard this layer when you no longer need it. Hope that helps.
Here's an alternative way to soften the selections. I'm not saying it's the *best* way, only a different way. In this case, the softening was done after dragging the subject onto a new background.
I think it helps if the background has the same type of lighting that was in the original. A person plucked out of a beach scene, might not look natural in a new dark background.
I always like to add some noise and a shadow to backgrounds. Check out where the shadow fell in the original, and try to calculate where and how a shadow would fall in the new background.
I don't care for the "render clouds" filter, unless it is very subtle. I thinks it's too easily recognizable as a filter and doesn't look natural.
And of course, the biggest tip, make clean selections so you don't have to work so hard later.
noise and color
Film grain or noise is important to get the nice blend look. You need to match quality of the new background with the original photo. When I cut someone out I select alittle farther out than my subject. then copy and past that selection onto a new layer. Create another new layer underneath this last one with a background similar to or the actual background. I usually switch between white, gray and black. Now use the eraser tool on the pasted subject. Vary your feather on the tool along with the transparency. Hair should have a high feather and transparency. Distinct edges need a very low feather and transparency. This is a rather long way to do it but it can get you very good results.
That's impressive Nik. Thanks for the tip. I have it saved for future use.
Great job Nik. I like how well blended she was in the final setting. I will save that tip myself.
I think I mostly agree with all the posts thus far -- depending on
the situation -- but more-or-less in combination. Is there any
chance we can have a look at the original image and see what it
suggests? I might vary technique for extraction and creation of a
background depending on what I am extracting from and what
kind of look I am trying to achieve.
As for backgrounds, I once had to submit a head shot for a flier
and web promo -- and forgot about it till the night before. As luck
would have it, I was checking my email from a hotel and found
the reminder. I didn't have anything to use but my digital camera
and whatever lighting I had in the room...and Photoshop on a
laptop. There was a vanity with decent lighting, so I set my digital
up on a tripod and did the shot using the mirror. I took 4-5 shots,
decided which looked best, and proceeded to cut out the cheesy
hotel-mess reflection (shower curtain, ugly wall-paper, etc.),
using manual masking. When I was done, I replaced the
background with a simple gradient blend of dark colors sampled
from my shirt and hair (meant to mimic existing lighting and
tone), and added a little noise (which can get trickier if you are
working with a scan and have to match paper and grain
textures). Then I applied some simple directional lighting effects
to the background to mimic studio lighting and what it COULD
have looked like had I taken the image in a studio setting with
proper lights, using lighting similar to what the vanity provided,
and adding light for separation from the new background as I
might have lit it. For the purpose, it looked real enough. I could
easily have wandered the hotel to find a background to use in
the replacement, but it would have been more difficult to really
get a good match on the lighting and tone than recreating one
-- and it might have taken more time.
Be sure to correct the image before extracting.
The point is, you need to take care with several things: get a
tight -- but not hard -- edge on your selection/mask/extraction
to help the elements blend, it is best to match lighting (and
color!) in the new elements to make the result look like it was
taken in the setting of the background, it is probably best to
keep the solution relatively simple, as it is a background,
after-all, and not the subject. I don't know that this post adds
a lot to the discussion, but I think you need to look at the
whole solution to get the best results, and that would be done
by combining what everyone's said.
Hope that helps!
Excellent point Richard. Would love to have seen your spur of the moment background for that web promo. Sounds facinating just in showing what you can come up with in short notice with a little imagination and ingenuity.
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