Building a Mask from an Image

So far, everything I've discussed in this chapter has been pretty straightforward. Now it's time to see how the professionals do things. This final section in this chapter explains every step required to create a mask for a complex image. Here's how to select the image you never thought you could select, complete with wispy little details such as hair.

Take a gander at Figure 9-28 and see what I mean. I chose this subject not for her good looks or her generous supply of freckles, but for that hair. I mean, look at all that hair. Have you ever seen such a frightening image-editing subject in your life? Not only is this particular girl blessed with roughly 15 googol strands of hair, but every one of them is leaping out of her head in a different direction and at a different level of focus. Can you imagine selecting any one of them with the magnetic lasso or magic wand? No way. As demonstrated by the second example of Figure 9-28, these tools lack sufficient accuracy to do any good. Furthermore, you'd be fit for an asylum by the time you finished selecting the hairs with the pen tools, and the edges aren't definite enough for Select ^ Color Range to latch onto.

Figure 9-28: Have you ever wanted to select wispy details, such as the hair shown on left? You certainly aren't going to make it with the magnetic lasso (right) or other selection tools. But with masks, it's a piece of cake.

So, what's the solution? Manual masking. Although masking styles vary as widely as artistic style, a few tried-and-true formulas work for everyone. First, you peruse the channels in an image to find the channel that lends itself best to a mask. You're looking for high degrees of contrast, especially around the edges. Next, you copy the channel and boost the level of contrast using Image ^ Adjust ^ Levels. (Some folks prefer Image ^ Adjust ^ Curves, but Levels is more straightforward.) Then you paint inside the lines until you get the mask the way you want it.

The only way to get a feel for masking is to try it out for yourself. The following steps explain exactly how I masked this girl and pasted her against a different background. The final result is so realistic, you'd think she was born there.

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Adobe Photoshop can be a complex tool only because you can do so much with it, however for in this video series, we're going to keep it as simple as possible. In fact, in this video you'll see an overview of the few tools and Adobe Photoshop features we will use. When you see this video, you'll see how you can do so much with so few features, but you'll learn how to use them in depth in the future videos.

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