It’s really difficult to cut out complex parts of an image like hair, fur etc. It’s not as easy as cutting out solid shapes from a solid color background. The complexity involved in separating hair, fur and such other things necessitates the use of image masking. Things having irregular edges were once considered to be very complicated to separate from the rest of the image. But image masking has made it a simple task to do. Go through this tutorial to find out how can you use image masking for such difficult image editing tasks.
Open the image to be edited in Photoshop and make a duplicate layer of it. The duplicate layer is needed so that we can work on the duplicate image and the original image stays intact in the background. Click on the visibility icon of the background image in order to hide it. Now select Color Range from Select option in the menu. From the Color Range dialogue box, select the Left Eye Dropper tool and use it to pick the background color. The selected color in the dialogue box will turn white. Now you have to move the fuzziness slider till the image is almost black while the background is quite clean.
Now switch the Channels palette while keeping the selection active. Then click the “Save Selection as Channel” button which can be found at the bottom of the channels palette. It’s the second button from the left side. On clicking the button, a new alpha channel will appear. Deselect it by clicking “Ctrl+D” and click on Alpha 1. The main window will be turned black and white . Now you can fine-tune the selection while being sure that the original image will not be affected. That’s the biggest benefit of using a channel that the work done on the selection doesn’t lay any impacts on the original image. In the selection, the black is the area that we will keep and the white is the one that we will discard.
If you see any gray areas in the selection, you have to turn it into solid black or white as per the requirement, i.e whether it’s to be kept or eliminated. However, if you want some semi-transparent area, let it be gray. And if you see some tiny dots making the selection messy, click Image>Adjustments>Levels. Now, from the levels Dialogue Box, move the black point slider from left to right until the gray areas become solid black. And the white point slider is to be moved to left to make the white parts clean. It will eliminate the grainy effect completely. Click OK for applying the effect.
In order to fine-tune the mask, take a black brush and paint all the areas in the image that are to be masked out. You should paint large areas with a large brush and the small areas with a small brush for quick and accurate masking. And similarly, use the white color to paint the areas that need to be removed from the image.
After the entire image is covered with a black and white selection, it may be difficult for you to assess which part should be kept and which should be deleted. Here, you can take help of the original image. Click eye, the visibility icon, to make the original image visible and figure out which part is to be kept or removed.
Hold Ctrl key and click on the Alpha 1 thumbnail. An active selection will be visible now. Now see the color image by clicking on RGB and open the layers palette. From the layers palette, add a layer mask after selecting the working layer. It will remove the masked area and exhibit a clean masking effect. In case the opposite happens, you can reciprocate the effect by clicking “Ctrl+I”. And the masked image you desired is before your eyes.
Following the above steps carefully can surely lead you to a neat and clean cut out. But in case you have to use the images for commercial purpose and want professional finish in the images, you can hire an experienced company that provides excellent image masking services. There are many image editing companies in India that provide such services at very low prices.