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Keeper of Records and Ale
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Somewhere else I found this great like to a thread, and.. wow. Works amazingly, and does not take long at all. But you will need Photoshop 7 to make full use of it and this is really for making decent pictures - not taking photographs.

Thread


And to prove it, this is what I have not long done:





KU
 

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Hmm, not 100% sure but IIRC you can do all of these things with Photoshop 6.0 (though you might have to change some things) and newer versions (unfourtanley I don't have that at home so I can't check it for you).
It can be done in older versions too, but you have to do a lot more work then, such as those horrible alfachannels as it doesn't support layers.

Almost forgot, if anyone wants any tips about what you can do in Photoshop feel free to PM me about it as it's a joy of my life.
 

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Thats a great tutorial for biginners. You should put it in the sticky Ulrik. :yes:

You need to be careful with levels however as if you're too agressive with the sliders you can lose tonal range. The histogram in the shot used in the example is very clean, they're not always that simple though. If you go into the black area with your sliders, be aware you are eliminating tonal range. You can also use Curves (Image>Adjustments>Curves) to achieve pretty much the same result. Its safer for your tonal range, but more complicated. More of an advanced technique.

The only thing that could be very troublesome or might cause frustration with that tutorial is the usage of the magic wand to create the selection. It works if your backround contrasts the entire outline of your subject but if you have any bright colors near the edge of the backround (in the case of a white backdrop) you may end up cutting off chunks of your mini. In the design department I work in we discourage new people from using the magic wand as it often results in sloppy selections. The bezier pen tool is really worth mastering for creating paths and selections. Once you grasp the basic principals of it, its really very simple and can be just as quick as using the magic wand tool and then trying to clean your selection up. Plus the pen tool creats a smooth cut everytime. Perhaps I'll post a tutorial on it soon...I'm not sure there's any interest though.

Also worth noting is a handy keyboard command. Ctrl-J (apple-J on a mac) takes whatever you have selected and makes a copy in the exact same spot on a brand new layer with a transparant backround.
Edit: Doh! This is in that other tutorial, overlooked it the first time.

Photo editing is somewhat of a speciality of mine. Another photo editing trick I know to accentuate highlights and shadows on a piece:
1. Create a duplicate layer of your image
2. Filter>Other>High Pass to the "top" layer
3. It will make it all grey, this is ok. Move the slider till the shadows and highlights are very evident. You want it to kindof look like a film negative.
4. Change that top layer's layer mode to either Overlay, Soft Light or Hard Light. Depending on how dramatic you want the shadows and highlights to be amplified.
5. Change the opacity of the top layer as desired.
6. Save for web
What this does is up the contrast without actually removing any tonal value and sharpens a picture without adding as much "noise". Combined with layer masking and a "soft" brush you can use this technique to highlight specific details in a photo. The only drawback is although details are more apparant, so are flaws. Again, you can fix this with layer masking or even the "healing brush" as introduced in photoshop CS (I cant remember if 7 had it).

We use this a lot when clipping out images that are partly lost in shadow because if you leave the High Pass layer in "normal" layer mode you can sometimes see the outline of objects depending on how you set the high pass slider. For instance clipping out the tires of a car thats casting a dark shadow on the ground.
 

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Pen tool made easy.

Read carefully and give this a try before dismissing it, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Well my previous statement that the pen tool was just as fast as the magic wand might not be entirely...uh...true. hehe. It DOES give you pinpoint control over your path however. Its faster and less work than the polygonal lasso tool because instead of a lot of close points around a curve you onle need 3 points for a smooth curve...not to mentiono swearing at the computer and starting over when you accidentaly close your selection due to an inadvertant double click. Its also faster and less work than using the paintbrush tool on a mask. It IS a lot more work than the magic wand, but if you didn't use a backrop for your image, its really the only way to clip out your figure. Also if you've spent a week painting a figure, whats a few hours getting a perfect clip? Here is a few tips I've put together. It was done with Photoshop CS2 but it should apply back at least a few versions, the pen tool has always been a basic tool of photoshop. I hope you guys love me, this took me awhile.

Didn't see any way of submitting an article in the articles section and nobody ever did tell me how, so here it is.

First of all here is my starting photo.


First thing I usually do is make 1 or 2 High Pass layers that I can turn on and off as needed, to help me seperate difficult edges from the backround. It makes a negative efffect that can pull your subjects edge out of a shadow if you're lucky. Filters>Other>High Pass


Ok, the pen tools native mode makes a filled polygon when you start clicking away. You dont want this fill as it makes it harder to use. In the options for the tool there are 3 states, Shape Layer, Paths & Fill Pixels. You want to make sure you select the Paths.


Ok, now, most people are intimidated by the little handles that the pen tool is notorious for. This may surprise some people but you never have to touch them to make a complex path with this tool. The key is the "auto add/remove" ability. As illustrated in the picture, just creat a straight line from the bigginning of your curve to either midway through a curve (for long seeping curves) or the end of your curve (for shorter ones).


Then just click midway through your line to create a new point. This point will already have curve handles sticking out but just ignore them. Press and hold the CTRL key and the cursor should turn into a white arrow. This is called the Direct Select arrow...while holding CTRL click and hold the center of your new point and drag it out to the edge of your curve.



For more dynamic curves, you'll want to cut it into smaller sections so as to have more control. On a curve like this you dont want to create a point in the center of the path section, if you put yoru point more toward one point and drag it toward the opposite one, you can create a curve that leans. Very helpful for curves like this.



You can put more than one curve between to pionts as well, such as for a wavy line. Pulling one point one way and the other point the other.


Certain things like flocking can ruin your plans to completely path out a figurine with the pen tool. If this is the case you can erase the backround in sections. Close our your path. Go into your paths pallete and holding down CTRL click on your path. It will make a selection of your path, go back to the layers pallete and click the layer you want to remove material from. If it is your Backround layer, besure to rename it first so it has transparancy. This is important because erasing from a "Backround" layer will actually fill any areas you erase from with your backround color.


You can see, this method makes a razor clean cut that smoothly and perfectly outlines curves. Once you remove all the sections you can easily clip, you can use the magic wand tool on the backround thats left, bordering such things as flocking. Its much more random on such edges and gives a more realistic clip, due to its inherent imperfection. Of course, you can use a mask instead if you're afraid of erasing parts of your image, and you can always adjust a path at any time.


I hope this helps a few people. Its not for everyone but it is the preffered method of graphic design professionals, at least where I work.
 
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