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Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

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  #1  
Old 12-10-2010, 09:42 PM
jbb jbb is offline
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Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

I need to find a quicker way to silhouette product images for web catalogs. I'm using quick mask to paint over the image to create a selection and then invert it. This works fine but it's too time consuming. I need a quicker way that won't necessarily compromise the quality of the selection. The wand tool would be great but the edges are terrible. I was thinking about maybe using the wand and then going into QM to refine the edges. There has to be a better way to do this for speed's sake. Please help!
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:57 PM
Flashtones Flashtones is offline
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Re: Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

Invest the time to learn the pen tool. It's tough to start but it'll save you a lot of grief in the long run.

Pretty sure there's a Steve Caplan episode on the RetouchPro Live Youtube channel.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:02 PM
Flashtones Flashtones is offline
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Re: Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

BTW, the pen tool isn't the quickest, but it'll give you the best edges.

You'll fight the pen and try every other option first, and that's fine, but just remember you came here asking because you already know the edges of the fast way aren't good enough.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:07 PM
jbb jbb is offline
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Re: Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

Thanks Flashtones, the pen is definitely the best selection option but still very time consuming at least at first, I agree. The problem is this client wants to see speed and precision so I'm trying to find a quick way to do this without making a "terrible" selection. What about using channels? Not too familiar yet with them but see that people use them often when silhouetting, just not sure if it's fast or not . . . hope this makes sense. . .
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:13 PM
Flashtones Flashtones is offline
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Re: Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

Depends on your product and background. Do you have a lot of contrast between them?

I'm typically shooting stuff like silver on white, sometimes with shallow depth of field, rendering very low contrast and little distinction between product and background. Here the pen is essential.

If you have PS CS5 and good contrast you might get by with the new edge refinement masking as it allows some edge smoothing.

The other option is to outsource the pathing.

Are you the photographer or retoucher? If the photographer, swallow your pride and outsource the pathing. If you're a retoucher, learn it, you'll use it.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:18 PM
Flashtones Flashtones is offline
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Re: Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

It also depends on the shapes of your products. If they're all cereal boxes you could do fine with the polygonal lasso or the paint brush (using the shift key), but if you need to be masking perfectly rounded shapes like circles (clocks), ovals (tea cups/handles), eggs, etc, few people have such immaculate painting skills.
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:45 AM
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Boneappetit Boneappetit is offline
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Re: Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

Quick selection tool, along with Refine Edge works fine most of the time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7Riu7P7vTE

This tutorial is about the selection tool, doesn't include Refine Edge.

Last edited by Boneappetit; 12-11-2010 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 12-11-2010, 09:05 AM
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4personnen 4personnen is offline
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Re: Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

Can't you work by your channels? detect the one with the better contrast, copy it (or using the Apply image function) then increase contrast by image> adjustment >levels till you get your object all black, refining it with your brush tool at the end...then you have a new channel, ctrl+click on the channel, now got a selection, go to the layer palette, new layer>fill>black

Last edited by 4personnen; 12-11-2010 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:17 AM
jbb jbb is offline
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Re: Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

thanks to all who had some input, very helpful indeed. I think I will be using the Channel Method for the white background shots. One more question: is there an action that will help with creating a drop shadow after the selection is made? Any suggestions would be much appreciated . . .
Thanks!
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Old 12-12-2010, 04:28 AM
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Mike Needham Mike Needham is offline
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Re: Need a very efficient way to Silhouette Images

If you are taking the product shots yourself, lock of the camera and take multiple shots, some with no lighting at the front to produce a silhouette, then use that shot as a mask for the shot with proper lighting.
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