Advanced masking method 1

Learn a powerfull technique to advance masking: Calculations

In this tutorial we will learn a powerful technique to create advanced masking; Calculations.

With this technique you will be able to mask even the most complicated images like the hair of a model. For this tutorial we will use an image with some complexities like the hair and the shape of the model face.

For a perfect masking we usually have to use more than one method, in this case we will use calculations and pen tool.

Lets start.

Before We Get Started

For this tutorial you are going to need:



Back Ground


Step 1 Create new channel using Calculations

This tool merges two channels for creating a new one. This is great because we can create a new channel that contrasts the model and the background.

a)    Open your image and double click on it in layers palette to make it editable

b)    Select the channels palette

c)    Select Calculations in the top menu: Image > Calculations

d)    This tool merges two channels for creating a new one. Usually we select the red one above and the blue one below. In this case because of the contrast between the hair and the sky we will select the Green channel above and the blue below.

e)    Now for the mask to work we need that the inside of the model is completely with an the background black, so we select invert the blue channel

f)      Now we set the blending mode to subtract with a 100 percent offset (90% of the cases you will use this blending mode)

g)    Select Ok to create the new channel. This will appear in the channels palette as Alpha 1

As you can se all the hair strains are perfect white and insolated.

It is very important to notice that these are the settings for this particular image. Every image is different so according to the case you will have to play with the settings like the channels or the blending mode to achieve the best mask.


Step 2 Creating path for the face

Now as you can see certain areas of the face and part of the neck and body are not perfect white.

Since this is made of curves we can use the pen tool for this areas

a)    Deselect the new alpha 1 channel, select the RGB

b)    Create a new path using the pen tool following the face contour and selecting parts of the head, neck and body

c)    For this tutorial we are assuming you are familiar with the pen tool. In case you are not next week we are going to publish a tutorial specifically for pen tool.

d)    Select path in the palettes and in the options select make selection

e)    Enter a feather radius of .5 pixels

f)      Return to the alpha channel (select only this channel) and paint this mask with white.

Step 3 fine adjusting

We still have some areas like gray or with small part of white, and it should be perfect white and black

a) Select a soft brush

b) Set the mode of the brush to overlay, if you select a white color it will only paint in the white parts, not painting the black ones (important the brush must be set to overlay)

c) Now select a black color to fine paint the black parts

d) Your channel should look like this:

Step 4 Create the mask

a)    Deselect the alpha 1 channel and select the RGB

b)  Return to layers

c)  Load the selection, in the top menu: Select > Load Selection

d)  Select the Alpha Channel 1 and click on invert

e)  Now delete the background

Step 5 Fine adjusting hair

Now we have some fringe (blue color in the hair) caused from the blue background, there are different forms to correct this.

a) Create a new layer

b) Load the alpha channel mask (Repeat C and D from step 4 but DON’T SELECT INVERT this time)

c) Remove the inner part of the mask (face and neck) you can do this using the polygonal lasso selecting subtract from the selection.

d) Using the eye dropper sample some color of the hair and paint the selection with this color

e) Soft the inner part of the mask using a soft brush with the eraser tool

f) Set the blending mode to color

g) Duplicate this layer and set the blending mode to overlay at 35%

Now we can use any background and we have all of our hair even the thinnest strings.

Next part of this tutorial will be done with a blond model because the calculations change.


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Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 Tutorials

About The Author

Javier Cantero

I'm a graphic/web designer, entrepreneur and the founder of Designer Freelance. I hope we can share lots of information and ideas. You can follow me on Twitter @designerfree

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19 Comments to Advanced masking method 1

  1. Fantastic tutorial Javier, so easy to follow and the end result is excellent! You should do a follow up on how you crafted the Bokeh background :-)

  2. Daniel on October 12th, 2010
  3. Thanks Daniel!. You know the Bokeh background is really an image I downloaded from stock xchange : http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1309046, but hey it is a great idea make a Bokeh tutorial next time!!

  4. Javier Cantero on October 12th, 2010
  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pablo Lara H, Haida Princess, Marc Davison, Nenuno Creative, Javier Cantero and others. Javier Cantero said: New Tutorial: Advanced masking http://bit.ly/9RfCM7 #photoshop #tutorial […]

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  7. […] Advanced masking method part 1 […]

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  9. […] Advanced masking method part 1 […]

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  11. nice tutorial mate, so nice.

  12. Mars on October 14th, 2010
  13. […] Direct Link […]

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  15. […] Leave a comment For the advanced users, a tutorial about making selections using calculations Designerfreelance.net Using channels, pen tool, and general masking skills, you will see how to extract a complicated […]

  16. Pro Trick #1 – Calculations for Selection « Art of Photography on October 15th, 2010
  17. Very nice, I love how you got all the details of the hair to show up!! :)

  18. loswl on October 15th, 2010
  19. Thanks for good stuff

  20. livelybrowsers on October 20th, 2010
  21. Nice tutorial!

  22. Boost Inspiration on October 20th, 2010
  23. Great tutorial Javier!

    I have been looking for an easier way to do this technique. Thanks for sharing. I will have to try this out.

  24. element321 on October 28th, 2010
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  26. Tutorial Photoshop: Eliminar fondo de una foto (masking) on October 28th, 2010
  27. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  28. pharmacy tech on November 9th, 2010
  29. good method

  30. peter on November 9th, 2010
  31. […] Elnace : Tutorial Photoshop […]

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  33. […] Advanced Masking Part 1 […]

  34. How to create bubbles with photoshop brushes | Designer Freelance on December 7th, 2010
  35. good Job I have been looking for an easier way to create a fabulous one.thank you:)

  36. E commerce Design on December 13th, 2010
  37. Indeed, I find the tutorial so easy to follow and I even added up twists on my own. Thanks for bringing out those ideas in me. More power!

  38. e commerce design on December 14th, 2010




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