Best way to remove background & keep every hair

Started Jan 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
suddie1215 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,818
Re: Best way to remove background & keep every hair

Changing the background for this particular image is rather simple.  There are countless ways to remove the subject from the background but for this image here's the simplest technique.

1.  Place the new background on a new layer immediately above the original layer containing the subject.  Temporarily turn off the new background layer.

2.  Select the layer with the subject.  Use the Lasso tool (in Photoshop you can use the Quick Select tool) to make a rough selection of the subject.  The selection does not have to be perfect i.e. don't worry to much about the fine hairs; but you should get as much as the subject as possible.

3.  With the marching ants indicating the subject is selected active; go back to the new background layer and turn on its visibility (the eye).  You should now see the marching ants outlined on the new background layer.  Now create a layer mask, then go to Image > Adjustments > Invert to invert the entire layer.  You will now see the subject showing through the new background.

4.  Now, here's the cool trick.  Change the Blend mode for the new background layer to Soft Light, and voila...all the fine hairs and details on the subject will now be visible in the new background layer.

As I said this is quite simple to do; it took me longer to write up these instructions than to actully change the background.

In terms of photography, you had the light placed too far to the subject's right and that caused the severe shadows on the left side of his nose.  A reflector of fill light source would have been ideal in this situation.  Ideally you want your main light to be 45 degrees from the tip of your subject's nose and elevated enough so that the shadow falls below the nostrils rather than to the side of the nose.

DuaneV wrote:

Here is a jpeg of the image. Yeah, I know, simple. I just don't know how to do it. I actually purchased TopazRemask because the tutorials made it look SOOOOOOOO simple, but I just CANT get his hair right (because I DONT know how to do it properly). So if anyone feels like giving some step by step details that would be great and Id REALLY appreciate it! I know it can be done, Ive seen some guys do amazing hair masking on this forum, Ive just never done it.

Also, any way to remove the umbrella reflection from his glasses? Im currently working on the full-sized tiff as I type this.

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