Creating a Clean Background
So you noticed we used this both on feathers and on a complex tree, and that's not the only thing it's useful on, it's also gonna be useful on furry, fuzzy, and hairy. That means, if we wanna do something like this image. In this image what I'd like to do is simplify the background. I don't like the drapes and window that are here, there's also a floor vent down there, for like an air conditioning return or something. I want this to be a little cleaner of a background. So I'm gonna duplicate this layer by dragging it down to the new layer icon, or I could have typed Command J. And I'll work on the layer that's underneath, hiding the layer that's on top. So I'm just gonna construct a clean background down here. And then we'll work on the layer that's above to get the child on its own layer. So, what I think I'd like to do here is I'm going to simply make a selection of this portion, right here, of the image. And I'm going to copy it to its own layer. Now if I'm working on that layer, an...
d I have a selection, I can type Command J, Command J means jump to a new layer, and if I have a selection, it means only do it to the area I have selected. So watch in my layers panel. When I type Command J, which is Control J in Windows. Now it just copied that little chunk onto it's own layer. If I were to hide the layer that's underneath, you'd see that that is sitting on top, just underneath it is the whole image. Then I'm gonna go to the Edit menu, I'm gonna choose Transform, and I'm gonna choose Flip Horizontal. Therefore, it'll be a mirror image of itself, horizontally, and I'll use the Move tool to reposition it so it's on the right edge of the document. Then I'm gonna retouch to try to make this continuous going all the way across. All I'm trying to do is make a clean background. I'll choose Merge Down to simplify this, so we only have one layer for our background, and I'm just gonna make this line continuously go all the way across. And same with the carpet. I'll grab my Clone Stamp tool, and by the way, we talk about tools like the Clone Stamp tool in a lesson that we have that is part of the Ultimate Guide, and it's called Retouching Essentials. So I'm not gonna give you too much detail on exactly how the tool works, because I would assume that if you needed to know about it, you would end up going to that lesson and watching it. We also have a lesson that is Advanced Retouching, if I remember correctly, and that would allow us to learn how to do more complex retouching. At this point, I'm gonna see, I think I'm gonna just make a little seam down the middle that looks like what's over here. And what I'm trying to do is just create a break in this so that I have two independent parts that need to be worked on. I have the right and the left side. And then, I'm gonna go to the healing brush, I know this is a little entertaining, because you can watch me do something that's related to other lessons, but I'm just gonna quickly make a clean background. And I thought it would give some of you guys some ideas, if you're needing to do something similar. Here I'm using the healing brush, because it blends in wherever I paint the surroundings. And therefore I do that, I should have moved it down just a smidgen there. I can go right now and fix that. This isn't gonna be perfect, I don't wanna spend too much time, so I'm gonna just finish up here. And then we will continue with our work. Now I hit the edge of the document over on the right side there, you can see crosshairs about to do it again, and that's what messed me up right here, but that's all right. I can come in and do a little more retouch, and get this done. Know that I would spend about another four minutes on this to get this to look better, but I know this session is not called retouching, and therefore I'm gonna call that good enough. I think the child's body is gonna cover up that little portion of the background that is not perfect. So there, that's simplifying the background. The only thing was, down here, we have a little bit that's odd, so I might need to use the one we have, or touch that up, we'll see. Anyway, let's go to the layer that's above, turn it on, that's the original version of the picture. What I need to do now is mask this to get just the kid's head and shoulders, and therefore the new background can fill in the rest, and so let's go for it. This time I'm gonna start with no selection whatsoever, and I'm working on the topmost layer, I'll go to the Select menu, and I'm gonna choose Select and Mask. And when I do that, remember, it's gonna show us the last preview setting you used. I prefer to start with a choice called Overlay. And red indicates the area that is not selected. It covers the entire picture because I have yet to make a selection. Well, in Select and Mask, in the upper left is the Quick Selection tool, so I can come in here right now just as if I used the normal tool, and click here and paint. And as I do, you see this red overlay disappearing because any area that's looking normal is considered selected, and any area covered with red is considered not. It's kind of a nice way to see a preview of your selection. Now I don't think I need the selection down here at the bottom, because the background hasn't been changed down there. It's primarily the shoulders and the head that I need. But, let's just make sure that up here near the top, we have a little bit of a selection. I'll get a smaller brush. And I'm using the square bracket keys to change my brush size by the way. And they're found right near the Return key on your keyboard. All right, so I got my basic selection, which is the area in red is not selected. And now we need to fix the edges, the furry, fuzzy and hairy stuff. So the first thing I'm gonna do is bring up Radius. Radius is gonna give Photoshop control all the way around the edge of where the red stuff begins. And I'm probably gonna bring it up to at least one pixel, sometimes two, and it's just gonna make it so the edge usually is gonna be a little better. Then I'm gonna go to the second tool from the top, that's the same tool I've been using on the other images, and I'm gonna look for any portion of the subject that is extending into the red. And wherever I see it extending into the red, I'm gonna paint, to give Photoshop control over that portion. And it doesn't always fix itself right away. Sometimes I need to work my way around the edge of the picture quite a bit before I see it fix, but I'm gonna come in here and start painting in those areas where the subject gets into the red. On the opposite side, I see little bit of hair right there. Here. If you press the space bar, you get the hand tool, so you can easily scroll around, and just get any area where subject extends into redness, because anything covered with red is considered something to be thrown away, and so I need to let Photoshop know that that stuff should not be thrown away by giving it control over the area. And you see there, only when I got all the way across the entire thing did it suddenly pop where it did better on it, because I had too much of it covered in red, where it thought it should be thrown away. I've already done that area. Think I've already done this, I don't remember if I did that or not. So I'll do it again. Okay, now, the next thing I need to do, is any area where I can see the background, and it doesn't have red on top of it, I need to cover. And so if you think you can see the background in here, then paint over it. Give Photoshop control of where you can see background without red. And I can see some right there. I can see a lot right through here. And maybe right there. But I think that's about it. And it's at this point that I can start to preview this in a different way by turning on Show Edge. That's gonna show me where Photoshop has control, so I turn that on, and now I'm seeing, is there any red that goes into the outer, or any subject that goes into the outer red zone. Because the outer red zone is what it thinks should be trashed. And if there's any of my subject sticking out into it, that's gonna confuse Photoshop, and not allow it to give you a nice, clean result. So in the outer red, I'm looking for any of my subject, and if there is anything, I need to get the red off. Is that maybe right there? Then I'm looking at the inner red to make sure there's no hint of the background in the inner red. I wish they'd make the inner red green, green mean go, or we're gonna keep in the outer red red, so it means discard, but they put them both the same color, which makes it more confusing. But I think I'm not bad here. You can see the little line all the way around, that's due to this setting called Radius, I give it one pixel of control, so right there it has control for one pixel. There might be a few areas, though, because I think he was out of focus in a few areas, maybe over in here where it needs control, right there is an area covered that it should have control over. Oh and I see the part here of that thing the child is holding. All right. So at this point I've checked out where it has control, and it seems to be all those areas are appropriate. And at this point, I'm gonna start viewing this on layers. Now, if you ever get something weird that looks like this, (laughs) I'm glad that happened, that's because you still have the checkbox called Show Edge turned on. And so it's only showing you the areas where Photoshop has control, and it's just not showing you them as a colored overlay, because their preview is not set to overlay. So turn off the Show Edge checkbox. There. Now we're starting to see the end result. All right, this one still needs some help, because over here, there was like a window frame or something, and it is not quite right. And the other areas aren't too bad. Well, sometimes when I wanna clean up that kind of stuff, I find it's not best to see it on the layer that's underneath, so I'm gonna go back to my preview, and I'm gonna choose either On White, or I'll choose On Black, usually whichever one is closest to my background color that I am putting this on. The background color is kind of in between, and therefore I could use either one. But I'm just trying to get one that gives me a good sense for what's going on with the edge. So what I want to do over here, now, is if I'm still in the same tool, that second tool from the bottom, I can now take away control. And I do that by either going to the upper left, and that's where we have a minus sign right here, that would take away control, or if I hold down the Option key, Alt in Windows, it's the equivalent to using that temporarily. And I'm used to holding down Option to take away from things, so that's what I'm gonna use. I have the Option key held down, and I'm gonna make sure I don't paint on the subject of my picture. I'm gonna only paint where I see hints of the background showing up. So I hold down Option, and I click here. I'm taking Photoshop's control away from that area. And then it reverts back to the original selection that I had to determine if it should be there or not. If it messes up, choose Undo, Command Z. So I'm seeing if I could take away some control and improve it. If it doesn't improve it, chose Command Z. Control Z in Windows. Over here I just see a haziness. So I'll go, not where I'm touching the fuzzy stuff, but just where there's a hint of haze that doesn't look fuzzy, Option click, see if it cleans it up. Down here. I can also take control away in the subject area, like right here where there might have been some hair that is disappearing and shouldn't. See if it will come back. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't. If it doesn't, choose Command Z. But, wherever it is that you Option click, Alt clicking in Windows, you're taking Photoshop's control away, and therefore you're reverting back to the original selection. And it's often just because it had too much of an area, you painted on huge, wide expanse. Up here there's a little bit where I see some background. It might need a tiny brush, so I don't hit those hairy things. And I'm Option clicking. I can't tell that or not, I'm gonna try Option clicking, see if it thins it out. Yeah. I'm gonna try here once again, but I think that messed up before, so I choose Undo. All right, at this point, I'm gonna stop trying to give Photoshop control or not, and I'm gonna take control. If you wanna completely take control, go to the third tool down, the third tool down is where you can blatantly paint. It's as if you're working on a layer mask, and you're about to paint to add to or take away. So if I just paint here, I'm gonna bring the image back. Choose Undo. If I hold down the Option key, Alt in Windows, and I paint, I'm gonna remove something. But it's blatant. So, I'm probably gonna use a soft-edge brush, your brush tool is in the upper here, where you can change the settings, and you can use standard keyboard shortcuts. So here I'm using a soft brush, and I'm just painting some of this away. I don't have to get all this to look perfect, because the one thing we haven't done yet is that Decontaminate Colors, which will shift the colors of these edge areas, and that might fix a lot of those things. So in fact, we can do that. I'll turn on Decontaminate Colors. And bring it down a bit. So anyway, you can just try and take a little bit away here. Remember, I'm in the third tool down, which is the one where you're just manually painting to bring things back, or take them away. And you might wanna go to On Layers at this point, to see, what does it really look like in your end result. But I think we're not doing too bad here. Ah, look at the arm. Do you see the arm, where you have a dark edge? Well that's where the arm's out of focus, and so I might need to come into that second tool, that's where I give Photoshop control, and I never gave it control that wide. So I'm just gonna come in here and paint to say Photoshop, have control. And I'm probably gonna have to paint all around this, where I see that little dark band. And when I let go is when it updates. I don't know if I got wide enough there. And the other thing is, if it's a color issue on the edge, then it could be that I need to turn up my Decontaminate Colors. So it pushes the color out more aggressively into that edge. There we go, okay. So I think that's a bit better. All right, so at this point, I'm gonna click OK, and say I'm done. Now, let's go in here, and you can see, I didn't make my background perfect, because my background, fresh background retouching ended right here. That's just because I don't have this clean stuff in there. I'm not gonna spend the time to fix that, because it doesn't have to do with masking. I was just paying attention to this upper portion, but I wanna mention, that's just if I turn off this layer, what's underneath doesn't have clean stuff there. But I could've fixed that easily, just extending it further down, using the materials from over here, and the healing. But that's a retouching issue, so it's a different lesson. So now, let's see if we might need to do something special here, and we might not need it for this image, but you still need to know it. But when we turn on Decontaminate Colors, it shifted the colors of the stuff that's on the edges. And sometimes that doesn't improve the look of your picture. And if it doesn't, here's how you can bring back the original colors. We'll see if we need it or not. But any time you use Decontaminate Colors, it forces you to end up with a duplicate layer and the original image is right underneath. Well, here's how you can utilize that original image that's usually hidden right after you're done. Click on that middle layer, and drag it to the top, so it's at the top of your layer stack. Then, turn on it's eyeball, and that'll be completely the original picture. Then there's a way to say, I want the mask that's being used in the layer below to also apply to the layer above. Or another way to think of it is only make the top layer show up where the layer underneath it shows up. And if you were in our layers class, as part of the Complete Guide, we did that a few times. We had the word Barcelona, and we had a photograph above it, and there was way to make the photograph only show up where the text was. We're doing the exact same thing right now. So, I'm gonna go with that top layer selected, and choose Layer, Create Clipping Mask. When I choose that, watch the layer on the layers panel, you'll notice a down pointing arrow is going to appear. And that down pointing arrow means this layer only shows up where that layer's visible. And therefore, if this mask is hiding this somewhere, it's also gonna hide that. So now if I turn the eyeball off and on in this, you're gonna see what it looks like when it's off, with the colors that Photoshop used with Decontaminate Colors. And when I turn it back on, you're gonna see the original colors. And sometimes, the original colors will look better. So when it's off, I notice that this looks a lot better. Those really fuzzy areas. And I turn it on, you see those areas getting darker. But if I look at the very top, when I have it off, the little feathery things turned pink, they took on some of the color that's pink stuff, and when I turn on the original, watch at the very top. Do you see how it looks better? More white? So what I'm gonna do with this top layer, what I usually do is I add a layer mask. You're gonna click on the layer mask icon. And I'm gonna make it so that layer mask is black. So I'll chose invert. And therefore, it's not applying anywhere. But now I can paint it in by painting with white. So I'll come up here, grab my paintbrush, I'm painting with white, soft edge brush. And just wherever the color didn't look good, I'm gonna paint, to say no, use the original colors, just here. Original colors. Now there, I didn't like it, so I choose Undo. And maybe I get a smaller brush, and I paint only on the inner part here. And you can preview what would it look like if we used the original colors by disabling this mask. If you had our masking class, that's part of the Complete Guide, you'd know, you hold down the Shift key, and click to do that. So that would show me what the original colors will bring me, and then I Shift click again, and that's what these colors look like. And so I can decide, where would I like it. Then I come in here and paint, and say I like the original colors there. So anyway, I could do that kind of stuff, and I could look through all this to see, look at the edge where the text is, that looks terrible with the modified colors, so I gotta put it in right there. And right there. So good enough with that, you get the idea, I hope, and I just needed to make a larger background that was clean for my replacement.