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View Full Version : Removing the clutter, PhotoShopping a background


amandanator
12-11-2007, 03:31 AM
Hi everyone! Well I hope this helps and I explain things clearly enough. :) I'm using a photo of my brother I took at Christmas a couple years ago. Since he is sitting in from of our mother's breakfront, I thought this would be a great candidate because the background is quite cluttered and unattractive, otherwise a nice photo of my brother. If I may say so myself. :)

One thing before you start!!! Open your image and do a "Save As" to create a copy of your original image and then work on the copy. That way if anything should go wrong you haven't messed up your original photo. I'd hate to see that happen. :(

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Selecting_Clone_Stamp_Tool.jpg

This is the tool panel. The ones circled in red are the Healing Brush Tool and Clone Stamp Tool. These are the two tools that we'll primarily use.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Tools.jpg

Click on the Clone Stamp Tool in the Tool Panel to select it. Above your image and the Tool Panel you will see a panel where you can select the options for the tool you have selected. In the image below you can see the attributes for the Clone Stamp Tool. I have also clicked on the drop down menu for the brush in this screenshot. This is where you select your brush size and the hardness of the brush. A hardness of 0 (zero) will produce a soft edge, 100 will give you a hard edge. The size of the brush you use will depend on the resolution of the image you are working on and the delicacy of the area you are working on. If you have a lot of tight corners to get around you will need to use a smaller brush. In this you can see I have my brush set at 36 pixels. You find you will need to change your brush size from time to time depending on what area you are working in.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Brush_Size_and_Hardness_Select.jpg

Now that you've selected the size of your brush you will need to make a sample selection with your Clone Stamp Tool that you intend to clone. You do this by holding down the ALT (Option for Mac) and clicking simultaneously with your mouse on the area you which to clone or copy. When you do this the brush will change from an open circle to a circle with crosshairs in it. In the image below you can see I have selected the light back of the breakfront. You might also notice above the photo my brush attributes are displayed. Now my brush is 70 pixels, Mode is normal, opacity is 100%, etc.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Making_Sample_Selection.jpg

Now you can start cloning! Release the ALT key and holding down your mouse button paint away the areas you want to remove. You can see here I've already removed the stack of dishes behind his head. The large circle is the brush and the small cross above it is what is being cloned by the brush. This cross moves with your brush (kind of like it's on a leash). This is the hardest part...keeping track of where that pesky cross. You will find as you go along, you will have to stop and reposition your sample so it doesn't accidentally start sampling his hair or something and cloning that! :mad:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Cloning1.jpg

If this does happen, PhotoShop has a lot of undo levels. Just go up to Edit menu and select "Step Backward" or ALT+Ctrl+Z until you've undone your mistake. You can also use it to fix something you didn't intend to cover up and accidentally did! Like I did here on the collar, when my mouse slipped.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Oops.jpg

Here I'm working around the edge of the head. You can see I have reduced my brush size plus I've magnified the area I'm working on so I can get in as close as possible.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Cloning2.jpg

Here's the photo with background cloning completed.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Clone_Complete.jpg

Next you'll add some shadowing. You can accomplish this by either cloning a shadow area in the photo (which is what I did with Cinnamon's picture) or by using the Burn Tool. The Burn Tool is the tool that looks like a little hand with the fingers together. If you don't see it on your Tool Panel, click and hold down on the small triangle in the corner of the 7th tool on the right side of the panel you will find it there. The other tools in this set are the Sponge Tool and Dodge Tool. Any tool with a small triangle next to it is part of a set of tools. You can access any of the other tools in a set this way.

To burn the shadow I set my brush to approx. 50% hardness. Other brush attributes: Range set to Midtones and Exposure set approx 50% also. When you use the Burn Tool, going over an area you have already burned will darken it further, so if you want an area to be darker you can just keep going over it until you reached the desired darkness or you can increase the Exposure setting. Increasing the Exposure will increase how dark the tool burns at one time.

You can alternate between the Burn Tool and the Healing Brush Tool to blend your shadow into the lighter areas of your background. The Healing Brush Tool works kind of like the Cloning Stamp Tool in so much as you need to ALT/Click on a sample area to set your tool. Once you have done this the brush will blend the selection with part you are painting. For example if you want to blend the dark area into the light area, make your selection in the light area and then paint it into the dark area. Here you can see the Healing Brush Tool as I paint the light background into the darker area. Also just a note, make sure your Healing Brush Attributes are set for sample and not pattern in Source. You can see this up above the photo (very small).
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Healing_tool2.jpg

Here is the photo with the background finished after using the Healing Brush Tool to blend the burned areas into the lighter background.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Finished.jpg

amandanator
12-11-2007, 03:47 AM
Now for a little fun...If you aren't really excited about the color of the background after you've gone to all that trouble, you can use the mask tool to paint a mask on the background and isolate it from the rest of the photo and change the color. On the Tool Panel, the third row from the bottom you will see two rectangles with circles in them. The one on the right (dark rectangle) is the quick mask tool. If you select that it will allow you to use your paintbrush to paint a mask on the background. You can also use the magic wand tool (2nd tool from the top on the right side). Just select the magic wand and click on the area you want to select (this works best if the area has little or no variation - like before you burn in the shadows.) Since I didn't think about changing my background color before I burned in the shadows, I had to do it the hard way. :o
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Quick_Mask.jpg

Next exit Quick Mask by clicking back onto the white rectangle with the circle in it. Now you should see a dotted marquee around what wasn't painted. Go up to your menu and under "Select" click on "Inverse". Now the dotted marquee should be around what you painted the mask on. Like this...
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Inverse_Selection.jpg

Now go up to Image in the Menu, select Adjustments, Hue/Saturation. Move the Sliders back and forth to change the color of the background.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Adjusting_Hue_Saturation.jpg

Here's my finished photo after changing the background color.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2007/43218-Background_change.jpg

Well, there it is. I hope this is of use. If you have any questions or don't understand a step, feel free to ask. Thanks for looking. :)

Mandy

ButtonKnows
12-11-2007, 10:05 AM
Hi Mandy,
Did you use regular photoshop and do you know if photoshop elements can do this? Also how about putting a grid on a photo?

Thanks!

ButtonKnows
12-11-2007, 10:08 AM
Oops I saw the answer in the thread on the Springer

Continental
12-11-2007, 10:12 AM
Thanks for sharing that. I think the elimination of background junk is essential to establish a focal point. Many objects, no matter the size can draw the eye enough to distract from your subject. I try to eliminate all competition for my focal point.

Colorix
12-11-2007, 11:20 AM
Wonderful! Thank you so much, I'll try it out. Have Photoshop, never figured out how to use it.

The blue background is perfect for him!

amandanator
12-11-2007, 11:26 AM
ButtonKnows, I should have mentioned that in this thread. :) I used PhotoShop CS2 for this exercise. I did download a trial version of PhotoShop Elements and yes the tools are the same just arranged a little differently.

You can put a grid on your picture - but it won't print out if you print the photo. Go to View in the Menu, Show, Grid.

Thanks Continental, I thought I might mention also, this technique will work for simpler things too, like removing a branch in front of your subject. I really like doing this so I play around with different backgrounds so I have less guess work once I start working on the painting. I could work a hole in my paper as indecisive as I get sometimes. :)

Mandy

nana b
12-11-2007, 11:39 AM
Mandy, what a great lesson, thank you so much for taking the time. This will help me and many others! Can't wait to play with it!
Do you have anything else you can show us?:D

nana

amandanator
12-11-2007, 11:56 AM
Nana thanks, I'm sure I could come up with some others. I'll have to think on this a while. :)

Mandy

Shari
12-11-2007, 12:04 PM
This is such a valuable lesson. I use PS CS3 and I just want to mention that there are fabulous tutorials available at lynda.com on Photoshop, In Design and many others. I can appreciate how much time it took for you to demonstrate this and it is so well done. I eagerly look forward to more of your posts about this.

chewie
12-11-2007, 01:37 PM
wow, this is great, thank you much for taking the time to share!!

ButtonKnows
12-11-2007, 03:07 PM
Thanks Mandy,
I was planning on working straight from the screen so as long as the grid shows up there that's fine. I have an IMAC 24 inch screen and for some reason it can make pictures clear and big that I have trouble printing very large. I really want CS3 but probably can't justify it.
I do appreciate your tutorial so much.

Deborah Secor
12-11-2007, 04:59 PM
Well, I stumble along in Elements 2.0 and it does the trick most of the time! I'm amazed to see some of the goodies you have available, especially the 'mask' tool, but in fact I've managed to do just about everything with Elements that I see here, even if it takes a little bit more! I never did any of the tutorials, just kept trying things till I figured them out. (Stubborn & willfull, I know. :rolleyes: ) Well, that and I'd search the knowledge base occasionally when totally frustrated...

Mandy, thanks for this! I'm off to try one or two things to see if they streamline stuff. Probably will!

Deborah

Phil Coleman
12-11-2007, 05:04 PM
Not only can Photoshop be used to eliminate backgrounds and alter colour tones, It can be a valuable aid for those who may be starting out and also for those who have some experience. By using the eyedropper tool it allows the value of any colour within the image to be displayed which can then be used to match to a desired shade of pastel.

So often it can be difficult to decide on the shadow tones, is there green in there perhaps blue but this identifies it for you directly and can be viewed in the swatch in the tools!

It can also be very useful for building images to see if they work by introducing several objects each from a different source, controlling lighting and overall ambiance. Even surreal styles can be catered for with the numerous filters available!

For those who still need to develop their drawing skills somewhat, it can be used to identify points within the image and scaled accordingly to the pastel paper by using the ruler to aid this, these are just a few of the benefits which there are with such image manipulation software!

Shari
12-11-2007, 05:12 PM
Not only can Photoshop be used to eliminate backgrounds and alter colour tones, It can be a valuable aid for those who may be starting out and also for those who have some experience. By using the eyedropper tool it allows the value of any colour within the image to be displayed which can then be used to match to a desired shade of pastel.

So often it can be difficult to decide on the shadow tones, is there green in there perhaps blue but this identifies it for you directly and can be viewed in the swatch in the tools!

It can also be very useful for building images to see if they work by introducing several objects each from a different source, controlling lighting and overall ambiance. Even surreal styles can be catered for with the numerous filters available!

For those who still need to develop their drawing skills somewhat, it can be used to identify points within the image and scaled accordingly to the pastel paper by using the ruler to aid this, these are just a few of the benefits which there are with such image manipulation software!

Could you show us about using these features?

PaulaT
12-11-2007, 06:06 PM
Oh Mandy Thank-you so much for taking the time to work this up, I dont have time today but hope to be able to go threw it tomorrow. I am so excited to use something I paid alot of money for to use and not sit there and stare at it . again thank-you so much.

Paula

Phil Coleman
12-11-2007, 06:31 PM
Hi Shari, I will have time to post more tomorrow but here is an example of determining the colours using photoshop, which can be a very useful for people unsure of the tonal values or what colours to use!

Phil Coleman
12-11-2007, 06:52 PM
Here is a couple of examples of incorporating people or objects into the image to see how they will look before undertaking a painting!

amandanator
12-12-2007, 12:29 AM
Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments! I hope its helpful.

ButtonKnows - I use CS3 at work. I really like the improvements. They did a good job of refining it from CS2. It's a lot less glitchy than CS2, and the I think the photomerge works better also. But IT IS EXPENSIVE!! Like most things with Adobe in their name.

Deborah, that's how I learned too! :) As a matter of fact, I got my first graphic design position at a newspaper by telling the publisher I worked in PhotoShop and I was fast learner. Didn't tell him my expertise was about 20 hrs worth of "ole hit or miss" self-learning sessions. I would go home at night and practice in PhotoShop into the wee hours of morning, get a couple hours of sleep and go back to work so he wouldn't knock I was bluffing. Thank goodness I was a pretty fast learner - worked at the newspaper for the next seven years after that. I still feel I have so much to learn. I think in some ways Elements is harder to get a handle on. Could be because I'm so accustomed to knowing where everything is in PhotoShop I sometimes feel lost when I'm working with Elements and its not behaving in the same way as PhotoShop.

Phil, excellent input! Being in the printing business, I've used the eyedropper many times for matching Pantone colors - didn't even think about using it to analyze my ref image while I was painting. It's funny how you can work with a program for years and because you use it one way if never occurs to you the other ways it can benefit you! Thanks for adding your expertise to this topic. :)

I love your "moon" by the way! :lol:

Paula, you're so welcome! I think once you get your feet wet you'll love playing in PhotoShop. There is so much you can do with it.

Mandy

Donna T
12-12-2007, 06:46 PM
Mandy, Thanks so much for doing this! I will save this so I can refer to it when I need to. My sons both take Computer Graphics at school and they help me when I need it. But when they're not around I'm lost!

Donna T