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  • Isolated subject from background... now what?

    Hi! I've got a neat image with uneven lighting and a cruddy background. I initially thought I might try to modify it for a vaguely "pin-up" look -- I know the body type is wrong for vintage pin-up, but I've seen pin-up images in which a girl is isolated on a simple white or colored background and thought a similar style might work for this.

    When I isolate the subject against a plain white background, though, the result is unnatural and unfinished-looking. It seems like adding a cast shadow could help, but because my subject is suspended on a pole I'm not sure where to place one. Also, the edges of the subjects body seem oddly grayish against the pure white. And the extended foot seems different from the rest of the body somehow, despite my best efforts to match the lighting and color of the skin.

    I've experimented with other backgrounds, but I can't figure out where to go from here. I think what I really need is to figure out some way to create a sense of depth. Any advice on what I've done or inspiration on where to go from here would be greatly appreciated!
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  • #2
    Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

    I didn't adjust the DoF but replaced the background with a vintage image. Perhaps something along this line would work?

    Maureen
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

      Hi Maureen... thanks for replying!

      I should clarify -- my goal isn't to achieve a pinup or retro look. I mentioned pinups because I was thinking of images like these or these when I was envisioning where I wanted to go with this one. I'd like to keep the image fairly sparse if i can, with the focus on the figure.

      Sorry -- I guess that third image with the busy wallpaper is pretty misleading in that respect... I put it up because it seems to conceal the grayness of the figure's edges a little bit without being as dull as a solid gray background. But everything still looks so flat!

      ::edit::
      here it is with a plain gray background...
      Attached Files
      Last edited by aubli; 02-03-2007, 04:03 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

        placed a shadow layer beneath girl, and a gradient layer beneath that, then reduced opacity of gradient layer.

        Not happy about girl's left leg, still a bit of a work in progress.

        Sorry, seems to have posterised badly on posting (it does not look like this when viewed in PS).
        Attached Files
        Last edited by Gary Richardson; 02-03-2007, 04:29 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

          Gary, that's terrific!

          Maureen

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          • #6
            Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

            Thanks Maureen.

            The non-posterised version that I can see on my screen when I view the picture in PhotoShop or Windows Picture & Fax Viewer is a tad more subtle than the picture posted (and IMO looks better).

            Can't work out why it's posterised the way it has when I post it. I've had this happen before occasionally, and have never yet found a way round the problem (something to do with the way the forum SW deals with gradients).

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            • #7
              Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

              i had a go at this also. i didnt try to take it to the pin-up style you linked to, the old Vargas look, but i did try to make a decent selection and clean things up a bit.

              there are a thousand little things i do with something like this, so i'll only hit the big points and try to answer your original questions.

              When I isolate the subject against a plain white background, though, the result is unnatural and unfinished-looking.
              this is a result of the extraction. when you bring in an extraction on a new layer, particularly a solid white, gray or black, you also tend to bring in all the old shadows, spill-over and bleeding of the transitions... like on the arms. background and foregrounds are rarely ever completely separated. there is almost always a little 'bleeding' between the two. so, you get a little bit of the background brought forth with the foreground and vice versa.

              the way you correct for this is dependent on what you want to leave or show. you can take the layer with your cutout on it and just erase some bits. or, you can set your eraser tool on a medium to light opacity and just erase a smaller amount, leaving a bit of the bleed to show. when you put a new background layer in, this now semi-opaque area will pick up some of the new background and look more natural to the new environment.

              you can also use a soften or blurring tool to go along the edges and blend the cutout with the new background. this will anti-alias the two and also look more natural.

              that extended foot and lower leg were a bit of a problem. because of the poor lighting in the original, that area was quite dark relative to the rest of the image and you either have to compensate with the new background or fix the area itself. i chose the latter. i lightened the leg/foot while it was still a cutout and also added a bit of spray paint on a separate layer and blended that layer with a gausian blur. in fact, i did this to other areas of the cutout as well.

              somewhere in all this i also did a slight color correction and brightness/contrast adjustment layer. that was near the start. i also did some brightening of areas before i ever did the cutout.

              near the end, when i had things looking a little better, i re-lit the entire composite.

              one other thing i'd suggest on this image, is to increase the image size before doing anything else. this will save on having to handle pixelization, 'jaggies' and some aliasing problems.

              the simple workflow on this is: clean up the image first, before the extraction. do what you can there first.

              do as clean an extraction as you can and if you're going to err, err on the side of extracting too much, not too little. once you have the extraction on its own layer, you can always erase small bits. it's harder to put back missing parts than to erase.

              then, clean up the extraction itself. there's almost always some little bits that need to be fixed. and then treat the extraction for color, lighting and so on.

              put in your background and justify the two layers, new background and extraction, to each other. make them blend correctly in both edges and lighting. you can do this before you merge the two.

              then, merge them and correct again for the merge. any little bits that still dont look right, clean them up.

              and finally, i almost always like to re-light the whole merged image. this tends to correct for other lighting and shadow faults that may still exist and gives the whole new image a more believable aspect.

              and finally, get a better image to work with in the first place it's a good pose, but like you pointed out, the background and lighting made extra work.

              now, having said all this, i'll probably look at my posted image tomorrow and go, 'oh lord! what was i thinking?!"
              Attached Files

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              • #8
                Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

                Originally posted by Gary Richardson
                Thanks Maureen.

                The non-posterised version that I can see on my screen when I view the picture in PhotoShop or Windows Picture & Fax Viewer is a tad more subtle than the picture posted (and IMO looks better).

                Can't work out why it's posterised the way it has when I post it. I've had this happen before occasionally, and have never yet found a way round the problem (something to do with the way the forum SW deals with gradients).

                It doesn't look the least posterised on my monitor, Gary. It appears a white backgound hosts it and the shadow besides. Was there due to show a gradient then? if so, I see no gradient but the image is brilliant nonetheless.

                Maureen

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                • #9
                  Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

                  Craig, you'll still fancy your version in the morning, it's brilliant as well!

                  Maureen

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                  • #10
                    Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

                    Here's is my quick go at your image. I first did an exaggerated blur and masked that out; then added some highlights to her skin; then extracted the girl to create the shadow; then duplicated the layer and changed blending mode to screen for lightness.
                    Attached Files

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                    • #11
                      Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

                      Hi maureen,

                      There should be a slight gradient, black/white going from bottom left to top right. It's reduced to 19% opacity, so is quite subtle and just takes off some of the sterility of a pure white BG.

                      If you look in the layer stack I posted it should be visible just above the BG layer, and below the shadow layer for the girl.

                      Originally posted by Kraellin
                      i'll probably look at my posted image tomorrow and go, 'oh lord! what was i thinking?!"
                      Don't we all Craig, don't we all.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

                        thanks, maureen

                        it's a bit of a stinker, isnt it. that lighting is so uneven. you've all done well, but i dont think anyone, including me, has quite hit it yet.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

                          Aubli-

                          I used the version of your picture with the white background-
                          I first duplicated the background layer, then did a slight dodge of her foot, selected her from the white background-used drop shadow seperated the shadow layer, used the perspective transformation bit to stretch the shadow behind her then added a guasian blur- finally dropping the shadow layer opacity to about 40% or so. Then I duplicated the untouched background layer again added high pass filter 30%opacity. Added a lighting effect to the retouched layer, dropping it to 60% opacity before merging all of the layers.
                          I don't know if this is exactly what you were looking for.

                          Raych
                          Attached Files

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                          • #14
                            Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

                            Hi, Here's my go.

                            I removed some artifacts on the white background by repainting it, cleaned up some edges of her suit where it was wrinkled, enlarged her bosom slightly, flattened layers, converted to CMYK mode, adjusted curves for skin tone, converted back to RGB mode, added two omni lights to compensate for the original lighting (one at her face and one at midcalf on her left leg) and saved for web. I used Photoshop 7.0.

                            What do you think?

                            Nomi
                            Attached Files

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                            • #15
                              Re: Isolated subject from background... now what?

                              I know that it's not a plain background and she is no longer a "Pole" dancer but I thought this would look more natural.. Anyway,... here is my attempt..
                              Attached Files

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