Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Hi everyone! It’s Karen and today I’m bringing you a tutorial for doing photo extractions for our scrap pages. In the past, if I wanted to remove the background from a photo, I would use the eraser tool…zoom in close and erase away the part of the image that I didn’t want. It was very time consuming and I made lots of mistakes. But, lately I’ve discovered two things that make it much easier.
1. Using a pen tablet instead of a mouse. It gives much more control and is easier on your hand.
This is like the one I have. The small Bamboo Fun Tablet.
2. Adding a Layer Mask to the image. Basically, instead of erasing, the unwanted part of the image is just painted away. It’s so much quicker. If you make a mistake, with just a click, you can fix it and be on your way.
If you are a Photoshop Elements user, never fear, you can use layer masks, too! Just install one of the free add-ons for Elements found here or here. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready for the simple steps below.
Now, let’s start an extraction! Open an image. Make a copy and close your original. I also always hit control J (or Command J for a mac) to duplicate my image onto a new layer. Basically, the extra copy is just there in reserve… just in case I want to trash the one I’m working on and start all over. From now on I’ll always be referring to the top image. To make things easier to see while we work, add a bright colored layer underneath the image. To do that click the new layer icon and then use the paint bucket tool to fill that new layer with bright red. Be sure and drag the new layer underneath the image if it’s not already there.
Next, click the layer mask icon to add a mask to the image. (Or run the mask action if you’re using Elements.) Look in your layers palette and make sure that your mask (the box that’s now linked to your photo) is white (check out the screen shot below). If it’s black instead of white, click on the mask in your layers palette with your pen or mouse and hit control I. That will inverse the color and change it from black to white. Next hit the “D” key to select the default colors, select a round, soft brush of about 10 pixels, make sure the brush is black (hit the “x” key if it isn’t, that will switch the colors,) and zoom in on your photo to around 250 – 300 %. Click on the white mask in your layers palette, move the brush over to the image and paint away. What ever is painted will be removed from the photo. Since the part of the image that you are painting is being removed, the red layer from below will begin to show through. Don’t worry, it looks strange now, but we will delete the red layer later, after we’re all done. As you can see below, I got a little sloppy and painted on the face by mistake.
Now here is what makes using layer masks so much fun! When I see that I’ve made a stray stoke, I just hit my “x” key to switch my brush color to white and paint over the mistake. I hit the “x” key again to switch back to black and resumed my painting. Fixed it in a flash!
The goal here is to outline around the whole image with the small brush. Use the bracket keys to make the brush smaller and larger as you work in tight areas. As I painted my image, I moved the image around by holding down the space bar to change my cursor into the hand tool. With the hand tool activated (keep holding down the space bar) you can easily grab the photo and move it to a fresh area. So basically, I just painted away, scooted my image, painted, scooted…over and over until I had outlined the whole thing.
I kept painting until I got a pretty wide border of red so I wouldn’t mess up my image once I moved to a bigger brush.
Next I used my bracket key to enlarge my brush to around 300 pixels and finished painting all the white area.
Once I had everything painted I turned off the layers below, including the red one, to see how it looked. I cleaned up a few things by clicking between the black and white brushes using the x key.
When I was happy with how everything looked, I dragged the extraction, mask and all, onto a new 12 x 12 document to start my scrap page. Once I got the extraction on the new white document I could see a few spots on the left side that I had missed painting. No problem! I just hit the “b” key to select my brush tool, made sure it was black, clicked with my pen (or mouse) on the mask in the layer palette, then on the scrap page, painted away the black, smudgy areas.
Next, I added a digital paper to my page. Once the blue paper was underneath the extraction, I could see that there was quite a bit of the white showing amongst the curls in her hair. To take care of that, I zoom way in, used a 3 pixel brush and painted away more of the white areas. I wasn’t too concerned about being exact and I didn’t remove every speck of white. I was pretty sure no one would be able to tell once I had zoomed back to normal. I zoomed in and out a few times checking as I worked.
And here it is! All finished and ready to continue scrapping. I did add a shadow to the extraction…larger and softer than the shadows I usually add to paper pieces.
Below you can see the layer mask in my almost finished page.
And here it is…my finished layout!
I hope so much this tutorial has been helpful to you and that soon we will be seeing your beautiful extraction work in the shabby shoppe gallery.
P.S. I used Hopscotch to make the page above.