Free Photography Tutorials, Beginners to Advanced
Blonde girl in suit and tie

Girl in a Suit

Although it looks like a straightforward shot, there was quite a lot of retouching work to do afterwards.

I suppose I could have asked the girl to cut her, very long, hair but she might not have been too happy about that so I had to 'give her a haircut' in Photoshop.

The problem then was that it was difficult to blend the bits where I had taken out the hair with the original background which was sort of white but not quite. So I decided to remove all the background.

There is an 'automatic' way of selecting backgrounds and skies and other plain areas using the 'magic wand' in Photoshop but it seldom seems to give exactly the selection I want. So I usually end up doing it by hand.

The best way to do this is with a 'layer mask' (see the tripods tutorial for a full explanation), the advantage of using a layer mask is that, if you make a mistake and remove something you didn't intend to, you can put it back using the opposite color.

The most important thing to get right when you are painting round an object is to get the right amount of blur on the outline, you do this by adjusting the 'hardness' of the brush.

If the outline is not blurred the subject will look as though it has been cut out and pasted on to the new background, if the outline is too blurred you will see it and it will have the same effect, it won't look natural.

The other thing to watch out for if you are dropping your subject into a new background is that the lighting matches up (not an issue in this case obviously), it's no use having a background that is lit from the left and a subject that is lit from the right.

Neither is it good to have a subject taken on a cloudy day dropped into a sunlit background.

In this photo I just wanted a very stark white background, I added the black line just to act as a 'container' for the picture.

This technique of removing the background from a photo can be very useful when you want to use it on a website, or in an article, and you want to blend the photo in with some text.

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