In this tutorial, I will be showing you how to cut out a person from a photo and pop them up in a different background. This is very helpful especially if you want to do “studio photography” but you do not have a professional background. You can cut a person from a picture taken against a blank wall and transfer them to a background that is more colorful and appealing.
To get started, we will have our picture ready and this is where we shall be cutting a person and placing them on a different background. The intention is to make them look as though they took their portrait outdoors. The lighting will be exactly as it is. The first thing we will do it take the Quick Selection Tool and this we can access by going to the toolbar and if it’s not visible, you can click and hold the Magic Wand tool and you’ll find it there. From there, we will increase the brush size to approximately 45 and then take the hardness down a little bit.
We can then paint on the subject that we have. We will do it loosely without worrying about exactness since this we can do later. With the selection, the normal method would be to cut the person out but this makes it look bad with all the whites showing. The best thing will be to click on the “Select and Mask” this used to be called refine edge but has been changed to Select and Mask. When we click on that, we go to another menu and here we have a couple of options including transparency which allows you to blur or put on a transparent background on the bottom remaining layer. We also have edge detection, the smart radius and this detects all of the boundary points of your pixels and tries to help you how to help you hide a little bit. It doesn’t do a good work always but you still can use it.
Smooth radius helps smooth your selection while feather only fades it out a little bit but we won’t make use of it much in this photo. Contrast, on the other hand, increases the blacks and whites (the darkness) of the selection while shift edge simply shifts the edges in. we will shift it in a little bit and this leaves us with some white spots to take care of. We will use the refine edge brush tool and once we click on it, we will get a little brush which we can use to paint the edges of what we want to take away contaminating colors. With a few strokes, we will get rid of the whites. This is not too bad for a quick little selection and background removal.
One step that many people do is that they do for the output method is that they keep it as a selection. However, doing this will make us loose our original photo. Instead, we will use other selections available such as Layer Mask which gives you a layer mask so you can go back to and take away or add some stuff later, a New Layer which is almost the same thing, New Layer with a Layer Mask, New Document which opens a new document and New Document with Layer Mask which opens a new document and a new Layer Mask.
I normally use the New Layer with Layer Mask or just Layer Mask but in this tutorial, we will use Layer Mask and click Okay. This will give us a Layer mask and if we disable it, you will see our original photo. We will be free to move the person around and we can enlarge or play around with it and since we have our layer mask locked to the original photo, all our edits stay.
We can pop in another background if we want to or do a whole lot of things. One thing we can do to match the colors is to apply a Photo filter. This gives a little bit of color between the background and on top of the subject. We can change this to cool or warm colors whichever blends in perfectly.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to use the Selection Mask. It’s a really great tool and if you do not have the Photoshop CC but have the older versions you can click the Refine Edge Tool and you’ll find it there. They all work the same except for the Transparency Slider which is not available in older models.
You can look out for more tutorials as well as Lightroom Presets or Photoshop Actions from Sleeklens to help you with your professional photo editing work.