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How to isolate a background?

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  • How to isolate a background?

    I would like to know how can I isolate a background. I had colored a black and white photo but the background is faded badly, so I would like to add a little sepia tone to the background. How can I isolate this background and add a sepia tone to it.

    Gerald McClaren

  • #2
    And leave the rest black & white? Curious combination, Gerald.
    However, toning specific parts of an image, sepia in this case, is easy in Photoshop 8:

    First make a copy. Work on the copy. Not the original.
    Then 1) select with the magic wand which parts of the image you want to tone, then 2) go to image–>adjustments–>photo filter..., choose 'sepia' from the drop-down menu and click OK . . .
    (You can also set the desired density and whether or not to preserve luminosity).
    That's all there is to it.

    Have fun.

    Here's a (very) quick & dirty demo
    Attached Files


    • #3
      How isolate a background?

      Ok, Rokcetscientist, maybe I didn't explained myself very clear. Here's the problem, I have a black and white photo that was given to me by my neighbor. I didn't color the background because it was faded very badly and I could not make out anything out. So, I only colored his mother in the photo and left the background as is. Now, the background is black and white with the mother in color. I didn't want to make a new background for her, instead I wanted to add a little sepia tone to her background. How can I add that sepia tone to this background without affecting her in the foreground. I had tried the magic wand tool but when I clicked in the background the marching ants covered the mother in the photo instead of the background. I appreaciate your help. Thanks.

      Gerald McClaren


      • #4
        Not sure if something like this is what you are looking for. If so just stamp a layer, subtract a little blue and add some red then use a hide all mask and paint out what you dont want with a soft brush.

        Attached Files
        Last edited by Daviskw; 06-17-2006, 12:20 AM.


        • #5
          Nice Butch. Also, the magic wand isn't very sophisticated. You might have more success using the Extract Tool on the subject and then inverting to pick out the background.



          • #6
            Masking is the way to go...

            A layer mask is simply a way to hide parts of a picture or text. In this Photoshop tutorial you'll learn how do simple layer masking to hide lettering so that it sits behind a glass of strawberries.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Gerald McClaren
              [...] I had tried the magic wand tool but when I clicked in the background the marching ants covered the mother in the photo instead of the background.
              Click on the magic wand, look at the bar directly under the menubar. It says "Tolerance" and a value. Change that value to "15". Click in the background. Marching ants running into the foreground? Then undo, insert a lower value and try again until it's not running into the foreground anymore. Need more of the background covered? Click the background at several places, holding Shift. Until you have marching ants everywhere that you want to apply the sepia filter to.

              Have fun


              • #8
                Im not quite sure what you mean ?. But at a guess it just sounds like you need a selection.
                Just select the background with the lasso tool. Sometimes theres no easy way to do it ie magic wand, and you will have to manually trace around the area you want to colour.
                I make 99 percent of my selections with the lasso tool so its a good tool to get that hang of. Sometimes when things are a similar tone if your lucky you can start with the magic wand but you will almost always have to tidy the selection edges up manually with the lasso tool anyways.


                • #9
                  How to isolate a background?

                  Here is the photo of the background I'm trying to isolate and add some sepia tone. I don't want to leave the background in black and white. I just want to add some color to it. Or maybe make a new background for it. I don't know which would be the better way.

                  Gerald McClaren
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    OK, so here are 2 variations:
                    one with a 25% sepia background and the other with 100%.
                    A simple matter of selecting with the magic wand and then applying image–>adjustments–>photo filter–>sepia (in PS8).
                    But you can get it in green too.
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by RokcetScientist; 06-19-2006, 12:20 PM.


                    • #11
                      Girl Mask

                      Gerald, I took a crack at masking the little girl. I went to channels, sel the blue, copied, applied high pass filter and used black and white paint to make the sel. Usually I want as hi-rez image as I can get, but this is a fast result. I can always use the practice anyway. Any background now can be added, as the mask is independant and on its own layer. Steve
                      Attached Files


                      • #12

                        As in the example above it is easy to just add a picture or background or add a tone then add a mask to the fill layer and paint the altered or new background in. The background example i am posting is not a very good one but I did it in just a few minutes to show how easy it is to do. Rather than a background it could be any picture you want to insert

                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by Daviskw; 06-19-2006, 02:09 PM.


                        • #13
                          How to isolate a background?

                          I appreaciated everyone help in helping me to learn to isolate a background. Now I can put some of this information together and design my own background.
                          Thanks, Robcetscientist, SteveB2005, and Daviskw. Daviskw your background was pretty cool. How did you add the shadows in for the cart and the little girl?

                          Gerald McClaren
                          Last edited by Gerald McClaren; 06-19-2006, 10:28 PM. Reason: Misspelled names


                          • #14
                            Hi there

                            In painting the background in on a mask all I had to do was crtl click the mask... inverse then click back on the picture and use <Ctrl><J > to put the girl and chair on another layer at the top of the pallet. Then I copied that layer so I had two girls and chairs. I clicked on the bottom girl and chair and Ctrl clicked to activeate the selection then filled with a dark gray. Changed the mode to Multiply... reduced its opacity to 75 percent... added a little gaussian blur. Then with free transform I warped the layer making the shadow.



                            • #15


                              like for everything else, there are a lot of ways to isolate a background or the subject of a picture in PS ....

                              For your picture I did the following:
                              • Selected the 'Magic Wand'
                              • Selected the 'Add to Selection' button (a little + sign will appear close to the Wand)
                              • Decreased the Wand's Tolerance to 15
                              • Clicked repeatedly on the different gradations of the background until I had nearly covered it all
                                (Attachment 1)

                              Most of the times, after a rough selection, you'll have to 'refine' your mask to select precisely what you want ... that's what I did here:
                              • Pressed the Q key (or Shift+Q) or click on the Quick Mask Button on your Tools' Palette to enter the Quick Mask Mode.
                              • Made sure I had Black and White as Fore/Background colours,
                              • Selected a brush (75% Hardness)
                              • Painted Black (in the Quick Mask mode Black=Red) over the parts I wanted to keep unchanged (the little girl, the table)
                              • Painted White (in the Quick Mask mode White=Transparent) on the parts I wanted to correct/Change .. (Background)
                                (Attachment 2)

                              When your mask has been refined, press the Q key (or Shift+Q) again or click on the Edit in Standard Mode button on your Tools' Palette to go back to your 'Normal' editing Mode .... The 'marching ants' will be around your refined selection and you can now save this selection for future use by clicking on Select>Save Selection.

                              My saved Mask and what the selection looked like in (Attachment 3)

                              (Attachment 4) shows the results I got on the background using different types of Adjustment Layers (always working with the selection still active>marching ants around it)

                              If you wish to completely eliminate/change the background instead of working on it, then, with the selection active, press Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection (this way the little girl and the table will remain), and insert your new background directly underneath.

                              (Attachment 5) shows a complete change of background.

                              Hope this helps.
                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by Flora; 06-20-2006, 09:24 AM.


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