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avoiding the paper doll look?

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  • avoiding the paper doll look?

    I've extracted a bride from a busy background and I want to put her on a solid background.

    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?


  • #2
    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.


    • #3
      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.

      Attached Files


      • #4
        My thoughts.....
        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.


        • #5
          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.
          Attached Files


          • #6
            That's impressive Nik. Thanks for the tip. I have it saved for future use.



            • #7
              Thanks guys! I'm going to add these to the collection of tips I've gathered here.

              What a nice group of people!

              Thanks again!


              • #8
                Great job Nik. I like how well blended she was in the final setting. I will save that tip myself.


                • #9
                  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!


                  • #10
                    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.


                    • #11
                      Here's a simple but effective way I learned. Make a selection around the bride, feather 2 - 4 pixles. Invert the selection and hit delete. That will erase the background. Then you can use the gradient tool, or fill with a solid color to create a background.



                      • #12
                        Good tip Larry. Have to keep that in mind.


                        • #13
                          Glad I was able to give something back for all the good tips you guys gave me. It also works well to do a vinette. Just use a bit more feathering say, 8-10, or however much you desire. Just make sure the background is white.

                          Last edited by Larry; 11-21-2001, 12:11 PM.


                          • #14
                            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.

                            I was just reading this tip that you sent me, but I don't really understand this part, which I guess is the main part, can you explain how to do this in an easier way for me please...... sorry I don't mean to appear to be dense. But I certainly appreciate your help.


                            • #15
                              One tip that I can offer is when using a mask to clean up a selection, once you are at the "about finished" point, try doing a levels adjustment on the mask, not the actual selection but the mask only. As you move the left slider towards the center, the mask expands. This is one method I use to fine tune the mask when it doesn't quite have the clean look I am looking for.


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