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A Hairy Problem


Orias

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Hi guys,

I am having a really annoying problem that I can't quite find a good solution for. I am relatively familiar with some of the techniques for removing subjects from the background, but I am having a real issue with one area in particular.

In the attached image, I am finding it really hard to cut out the "fringe" (the area between the far eye and far ear) of the horse from the grass/bushes in the background. I want to pluck the horse out and drop it onto a black 'Portrait Style' background, but that one clump of hair at the front is causing me a lot of problems. No matter what I do, I can't seem to isolate the hair so that appears clean and crisp, without some of the grass/bushes, on a pure black background.

The method I have been using is with the Quick Selection Tool to isolate the horse, then Refine Edges to capture some of the missing hair. I then Invert Selection and fill the background in with black. Then I've been using the Burn Tool, set to Shadows, on a low exposure to try and rub out some of the background and pull out the detail in the hair. It works on some of the mane, but no matter what I try I can't pull out the fine hair detail in front of the ears. I always end up either smudging everything too much, or underexposing the hair so that it looks unnatural when placed on the black background.

Can any of you Guru's shed some light on this. Am I missing some technique that will help me get those small hairs out of the background, or am I fighting a losing battle with this particular shot on this particular background?

Hopefully some of that made sense?
Thanks very much for any help!!
 

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dv8_fx

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Hi and welcome....

You can use the pentool or paint brush in mask mode to create a selection on the hair or other stray hairs I see. After which you duplicate the selected hairs on a layer for further refinement or defringing ...etc... before merging it to the rest of the horse.

Someone here may have other suggestions...... hang on.....
 

IamSam

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Hello and welcome.

With the inconsistent BG of this image, it would be rather challenging to separate all the tiny hairs. So I just painted them in.

After I separated the Horse from it's BG.............
Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 9.54.55 PM.png

On a new layer, I used the Brush Tool to paint back the parts of the mane that were lost in the separation by sampling the closest colors.
(this is very quick, you take your time)
Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 9.55.06 PM.png
 

Orias

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Thanks guys for the suggestions.

dv8_fx: I tried masking method with the brush tool, but I couldn't quite get the detail that I wanted. It was better than my previous efforts, but some parts still had that "you've cut this out of another background" look to them! This is almost certainly down to my lack of skill as opposed to the method though, I think I just need a bit more time and practice.

IamSam: Wow ... you've pretty much nailed that, especially for a 'quick' effort. That is significantly better than any of my efforts so far. Did you separate the horse from the background initially with the Quick Selection Tool + Refine edges? And the fine hairs that you added back in on the mane, and the fringe area, are those literally just drawn in by hand using the original as a template (i.e. they are not the real hairs, copies from the original, or anything like that)?

I'll see if I can recreate that myself. Do you have any specific setting info for the brushes that you used that I might need?

This was a previous effort of mine:
www.photoshopgurus.com.jpg

But it was much easier because the horse was in a stable with a dark background. So using the Burn Tool to remove the shadows made the fine white hairs stand out perfectly. I just think the original shot of the horse in this thread also lends itself to this style of picture, but the background makes it a lot more complicated!

Thanks again!!
Cheers
 
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IamSam

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The BG on this horse image was varied so I actually used many different techniques to isolate the horse from it's BG.

Most of the heavy lifting was done with a channel selection. I started with the green channel. Are you familiar with this process?

The hairs were painted in using the Brush Tool. I apologize as I often assume that everyone has a tablet. If you don't have a tablet, brushing in the hairs may prove to be a challenge and my solution may not work well for your situation.

On the tablet, I just used a brush set to 75% hardness, opacity at 100%, fill at around 24%-8%.
 
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Orias

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Thanks again for the reply,

Actually, I haven't used the channel selection option before. I have used the Colour Range option in the past, but not channel selection. Your initial selection (before adding the hairs) already seems much cleaner than my Quick Selection method. I'm guessing that the channel selection method allows you to isolate the predominantly green background, get rid of that, and then fine-tune it from there?

I do use a tablet though which makes things a lot easier. I just have the small Wacom Intuos Pen version, but it does the job for me!

Thanks very much,
Cheers, James
 

IamSam

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I do need to run for awhile, but when I return, I can give you a rundown on what I did with the horse image more specifically.

There may be a repeat in the links above, sorry.
 

Orias

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Awesome, thanks very much! I'll check out these tutorials now (it's a slow day at work)!

Thanks very much again, really appreciate the help!
 

Orias

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Right, I definitely learned a lot from those tutorials. Spent the last few hours testing them out as much as I can. I think the background I have in this specific shot is about as annoying as it possibly could be!
I tried with a different image, but in the same area, where the hair wasn't sticking out quite so much to see how I did. Pretty pleased with the end result, it's not 100% perfect, but better than any previous efforts:

The original started like this:

punch1_original.jpg

And I ended up with this:

Horse.jpg

I'll have a crack at the original image again once I've had a break!

Thanks again!
 
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IamSam

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Great job! I'm glad you benefited from the videos. Here's another that demonstrates the use of the doge & burn tool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJR20e7JcBg

However, as you may have learned, channel selection techniques are not always indicated. You have to learn a variety of techniques.

Your outcome above is great but you did not add any hair using the Brush Tool. This will take some practice and never work on the original layer, work on a new and separate layer.

Take a look at these to see how easily you can improve the believe ability of your composite by just adding a few hairs.....
(again, this was done very fast, you should take your time)
Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 8.33.42 AM copy.png

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 8.34.00 AM copy.png

Horse_02.jpg
 

Orias

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Wow, the extra hairs really do make a big difference. I am afraid I'm not overly familiar with the brush tool and techniques though.
Whenever I try this, it just looks like some child has drawn brown lines on the horse with a crayon and it doesn't look like hair at all :cheesygrin: . I don't seem to be able to match the texture/light that the rest of the hair has .. is there a specific trick/brush for that?

I'll check out that video now. I used the burn tool on the previous image of the white horse, but not used dodge yet.

Thanks again, appreciate the help!
Cheers!
 

IamSam

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Again, I have to run for awhile today, but later this afternoon I will post some tuts on the brush tool that will help you out. There are a few tricks, but seriously, I don't use any fancy brush settings. One brush set to about 75% hardness, opacity at 100%. The fill percentage varies, but it's usually very low. I sample the colors from the existing hairs. More on this later.
 

MrToM

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...demonstrates the use of the doge & burn tool:...
:rofl:

I must be losing it......at a quick glance I read this as "the dogs bum tool".

I though wow, Sam really has hit rock bottom here!

I think my medication is wearing off.

Excellent explanation all the same....regardless of whether there is a dogs bum involved or not.

Regards.
MrToM.
 

MikeMc

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:rofl:

I must be losing it......at a quick glance I read this as "the dogs bum tool".

I though wow, Sam really has hit rock bottom here!

I think my medication is wearing off.

Excellent explanation all the same....regardless of whether there is a dogs bum involved or not.

Regards.
MrToM.
OK heres the dog.....


Phreddy.jpg
 

MrToM

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Thanks Mike...now I know where I've been going wrong.

I see you posted one of those fancy pantsy models too.....if you turn them the other way round they can be used as an eraser....

....you show off you!
:rofl:

Regards.
MrToM.
 

Orias

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Haha! I've been searching for that specific tool, but it appears my version of Photoshop doesn't have it :D

Slowly getting some progress with the hair problem. It still looks like someone has just drawn in brown lines when I try to paint the hair back in though! Are you using the eye-dropper tool to sample the nearby hair colour, or some other method?
I even got the trial version of Topaz ReMask to see if that could help me out with the initial masking. It does a pretty good job (better than me), but getting the hair detail out of that background is still not perfect.

Cheers!
 

IamSam

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Are you using the eye-dropper tool to sample the nearby hair colour, or some other method?
Yes. When you are using the Brush Tool, at any time you can press and hold the ALT/OPTION key, which brings up the Eyedropper Tool, then you can sample.


Orias said:
I even got the trial version of Topaz ReMask to see if that could help me out with the initial masking. It does a pretty good job (better than me)
Making selections takes practice. While I will never speak ill of the merits of Topaz, it's not a substitute for learning the techniques yourself. But if your looking for a shortcut, it's a good one.

Orias said:
but getting the hair detail out of that background is still not perfect.
This is absolutely dependent on the individual image and the type of background the subject was photographed in. Not all are going to give you a perfect selection every time. This is why you must take the time to practice the many different techniques Photoshop offers.
 

IamSam

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I do need to apologize. I stated earlier that I did not use any special settings. Since the brush I was using has a preset, I failed to mention the one and only change I make to the settings.

Under 'Shape Dynamics' make sure the control is set to 'Pen Pressure'.
You will notice the brush stroke in the 'example window' will now have tapered ends.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.13.59 AM copy.png

Then, on the Tools option bar (for the brush tool) you can use either or both of the these settings.
Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 7.11.19 PM copy.png

These two options change how the Stylus operates.
The one on the left allows the Pen/Stylus to control the opacity.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.27.34 AM.png

The one on the right allows you to control the size of the brush with added pressure.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.29.37 AM.png

I only use the first.

Experiment.................practice.
 

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