There are many
different ways to make selections in Photoshop. Here's one that
I find works well with lots of different types of images. For this demonstration,
I had a nice portrait of my friend, Earl Eshenauer, but a distracting
background. I wanted to move Earl's picture onto a better type of
background. Here's how I did it using the Quick Mask mode.
First, I made a rough selection with the Lasso tool (#1). I then selected
the Quick Mask Mode (#2). The image on the screen shows the effect (#3).
I suggest that you use the Control key plus the "+" key to
magnify the image up to close to the pixel level. This will allow you
to have more control over your work.
Next, select the Brush tool and a small brush size. In this example, I
am using a 35 pixel, round, soft-edged brush. Now, paint in the ruby-colored
Quick Mask to cover all the areas that you do not want to be part of the
finished portrait (#4).
If you have problems around flyaway hair, try setting the Opacity of the
brush down to 25 percent or so and using a smaller brush size to sort
of fake it around the flyaway hair strands (#5). When you get to a place
where you need a little less diffusion to make a bit cleaner-edged mask,
you can select a different brush size or a harder-edged brush (#6).
If you make a mistake and paint the Quick Mask in an area where you don't
want it, select the Erasure tool and an appropriate brush size and simply
erase the unwanted part of the mask (#7 and #8). When you have completed
creating the Quick Mask, the picture will look something like #9.
Go back to the Tool Bar and turn off the Quick Mask (#10). Then, go to
Edit to Copy to copy the unmasked portion of the image to the clipboard.
Now it's time to create a new blank canvas onto which to paste the
selection. Go to File to New and create a new canvas. In this example,
I created an 8x10 at 300ppi (#11).
Next, highlight the new canvas and go to Edit to Paste in order to paste
the selection from the clipboard onto the new canvas. If the image is
not the right size, go to Edit to Transform to Scale and hold down the
Shift key while you drag the image from one of its corners to make it
larger or smaller. When you have adjusted the size of the image, press
the Enter key.
Now, to finish the portrait, I selected the background layer to lay in
a nice gradient. In this example, I selected a deep blue and a black color.
Then chose the Circular Gradient tool (#12). Experiment a little with
where you start and stop the Gradient drag-action. Since I wanted the
blue highlight to be centered behind the subject's head, I started
the gradient by putting the cursor on the subject's nose and drew
it into the upper left-hand corner.
Now it's time to do some finishing cleanup work. Start with the
hair and a diffused Erasure brush. Magnify the image up to almost the
pixel level and start to erase out some of the dark outline around the
head by "biting" into the hair edge just a little.
Next, use the Erasure tool and a fairly large, soft-edged brush to blend
the bottom edge of the portrait into the graduated background for #13
and the Final Image.
Now, wasn't that easy! If you have problems, you can write to me
care of the magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like
help with calibrating your computer, monitor, and printer, ask for my
CD-ROM on How To Calibrate Your System. It's only $3.