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Quick Selection Tips

Lesson 10 of 13

Removing Background: Fireworks

Ben Willmore

Quick Selection Tips

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

10. Removing Background: Fireworks

Lesson Info

Removing Background: Fireworks

Let's remove the background on maybe some clouds some fireworks uh and maybe some trees try to keep every little branch that's there so first when it comes to fireworks I'm going to open this image and I'm going to open some image to put it on top of now it would be most ideal if I had a night scene which I happened to have somewhat night seemed like most of time when you see fireworks you're going to a black sky so it's not going to probably look completely natural on top of this because you don't usually see fireworks with blue sky but we'll put it there anyway so I just open to images and I'm going to use the move tool in photo shop and I'm going to move this picture on top of the other one now the problem is when you first open images and photo shop in the newer versions they show up his little tabs and it's not always obvious how to get things between those tabs first off you could copy and paste we could do select all copy switch to the other picture paste it would be in there bu...

t if you want to use the move tool here's how you move between tabs you use the move toward you click with in this picture dragged the other tab wait for it's come to the front and then move your mouse into that picture before you let go a little small though I didn't plan that ahead of time, so we'll have a little small firing oh aiken scale it up we'll go over here to little free transform, getting ready there now let's look at a way where we can hide things based on brightness so we could either hide the bright areas where we could hide the dark areas in order to do that, we go to the bottom of our layers panel near the bottom of the layers panel you're going to find the letters f x see it down here if I click on the letters fx the top most choice in the pop up menu that appears is called blending options and that sends me into an area that looks like this and justly no there's more than one way to access this. So if you've ever been in in something else that resembles this, it was probably this in whatever method you're used to using to get to this it does the same thing I say that because a lot of people after I'm done using the weight wait a minute isn't are another feature and photo shop you get to go in this other way well, there's more than one way of getting to this dialogue and I just happened to show you that if you click on the letters f ax and choose the top choice to get there so if you look at these sliders here, those will allow me to show our hide things based on brightness but since we're talking about making selections we're going to have to do something before we get into these sliders so I'm gonna actually could cancel and what we need to do is if we want a selection and the only reason we're going to make a selection right now is because that's what this class is about otherwise they wouldn't need necessarily need a selection as long as the background disappeared who cares of this election? Did it or not, but since it's a class and selections I have to show you how to get that so if you know you need a selection what you want to do is first duplicate the later I usually use the keyboard shortcut of command j that's control jane windows I think of it is jumping into a new layer just because the duplicate layer command doesn't have a keyboard shortcut so I use this command because it does so I'm gonna take command j watch my layers panel command jay and hide the original so so far we've duplicated the layer hid the original now we'll go back now the letters fx will choose that top choice called blending options and now let's get the dark background to go away well if you look at this, we're going to use the park called this later and I'm just gonna pull in this slider as I pull this in parts of the image might start to disappear what's going to happen is anything that is in the brightness range that is showing up to the left of the slider would disappear anything in the brightness range shown to the right of the slider would remain visible that's all it does so if I pull it in this far and there's nothing in my picture that has this brightness range in it nothing would disappear yet if what is in my picture was over in this brightness range let's say I'd have to pull it till this goes beyond that but let's see what it looks like so I'll pull this over and you see that the black background starts going away if I continue we're going to get more and mohr of the blackness to go away if we bring it up too far we're going to start making some of the fireworks going so I'm gonna pull this off or intel most the sky goes away about there and then if you zoom up on the image you'll see that there's still kind of black stuff ingrained within our fireworks well this slider is actually to cider stuck together that's why there's a vertical line down the middle to indicate it's not one piece in in order to separate them I hold on the option key bolton windows then you can pullem apart now when you pull them apart, it's a little different what happens is we still have it where the areas to the left of the slider, anything in this brightness range would be hidden, and we still have it where the areas, the right of the slider would be normal. But now the areas in between the two halves are going to be fading out. They're going to be partially visible, the brighter they are, the middle more they'll show up, the darker they are, the less they'll show up and let's see what happens. So watch my fireworks. I'll pull this over quite a distance and you'll start seeing the edges kind of become less and less visible. Something about like that let's say, but it's not completely based on brightness, so now we have fireworks. It looks a little odd because we don't have black men who put him down here. It'll pry look better because they're used to seeing fireworks on black sky, so we were able to get rid of the background based on brightness. We could have done that with that sketch we had, we could just say, make the bright parts go away, there's always more than one way of doing things and photo shop, but now I want this to be a selection. Well, we're going to get fancy to make it a selection, because if you look in the layers panel, it never deleted the background, the background you can still see sitting here, there's just a setting attached to this layer that says hide the dark stuff, and if we were to go back to where we found that setting and move the sliders to their default locations, the background would be back it's just that there's a setting attached to the layer that was hiding things so let's, figure out how can we make that setting permanent? I want to deliver this to a client. I don't want the client to notice that those sliders air there other ways not hire me next time to do this, you know, they don't want him to reveal my tricks, so here's how we can make it permanent? I'm going to create a brand new empty layer and I'll create that I'm too later by just clicking on the new layer icon right here I'm going to put that empty layer underneath the one that has the sliders attached, then I'm going to take the layer that has the sliders attached and under the layer menu there's a choice called merge down we merge down means is take the layer I'm working on right now and combine it with a layer that's underneath well, the layer that's underneath doesn't have those sliders turned on so somehow it has to maintain the look of the picture and deposited from that layer underneath without using the sliders so when I choose merge down watching my layers pale do you see that now the background of the fireworks are truly gone that's because we made it somehow deposit that contents under a normal layer that doesn't have those weird sliders and so it had to keep the look of the image but somehow do it without the sliders and so that's how to make it permanent. But we weren't looking to have a permanent we were looking to have a selection because this class is about selections but now let's learn something else about selection tricks if you ever have a layer that has stuff on it let's just say it's a layer that has paint on it there's a trick if you look at the layer and in the layers panel you see the checkerboard anywhere, then there's a way to select everything except for the checkerboard to select everything but the checkerboard you move your mouse on the little thumbnail image for the layer and you want to hold down the control I'm starting out the control the command key command key it's control windows and click on it on that little thumbnail picture and watch what happens it selects everything that doesn't look like a checkerboard well, let's, throw away that top layer and look at this letter. This layer contains fireworks. The rest of it looks like a checkerboard, so if I command, click control cooking and windows on the low thumb, though, that makes it my layer, I just got a selection of the fireworks. This on ly works. If you see the checkerboard in here, it's selects everything that doesn't look like a checkerboard that's. All it does now, if I throw away that layer, remember how we duplicated the original. I can turn the original back on in there, I've selected the fireworks and it's, a very interesting selection, says, got soft edge on it, just like the fireworks have a soft and but you know what? I always need a selection just sometimes use a blinding sliders, those little sliders. We use that to hide the brighter, dark stuff.

Class Description

Learn how to take advantage of Photoshop’s powerful Selection tools and take your image editing skills to the next level.

Join Ben Willmore and explore everything you need to know to quickly select complex objects and refine selections in seconds. You’ll learn how to remove complex backgrounds (like trees and other naturescapes), precisely select smoke, and work with translucent objects. You’ll leave this course ready to make much more effective selections.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2014.2.2



I love learning from Ben Willmore! He has such a friendly, casual style I just love watching him in action. But he never wastes my time, he attacks his topic forcefully, stays focused on his teaching, and I have learned so much watching his videos. Ben is terrific and I strongly recommend this and his other courses on CreativeLive.

Julie Coder

Excellent class! Ben has a very clear presentation style so it's easy to follow along. I appreciate seeing the diverse approaches to selections, and some creative uses as well. Thanks so much!


I am a beginner in PS. I had been struggling with it for about 6 months until I took Ben Willmore's Photoshop 101. I have had many "aha" moments, but still learning. I decided to get "Quick Selections" because I was looking for shortcuts and quicker ways to process my photography. I am only half way through the course and it has already paid for itself in time that it will save me. It has also opened my eyes to greater possibilities in editing. Ben Willmore is an excellent instructor. His style is laid back, but thorough.