Photoshop Tutorials
The Design Center, DT&G / Photoshop Department / Improving photos with depth of field and color changes  

Improving Color Photos in Photoshop

Bob from:  New York, USA (Windows XP, Photoshop 6)
  > How do i cut out an image, and then paste it into 
  > another picture? Say I have a picture of a woman standing 
  > in a field. How do I cut her out, and then place her 
  > in a busy city scene? 
  > I've been trying to figure this out for a year now. 
  > Thanks!

The following answers Bob's question, but through a project where we'll introduce him to the "Extract" tool in Photoshop 6 and 7 as well as some other aspects of improving photographs.

Colors for the better

before and after It's not always easy getting the perfect digital shot, even under fairly good conditions.

When this manufacturer photographed some settings around the plant, their own digital camera made the project quick and easy. This shot was taken, then turned over to me for their web site.

The photo was okay, but in just a few quick clicks, it would be much better. It was dim and "brown; the subject was hard to pick out of the background because of the brown shirt, and the flash seriously burned out the foreground. Fixing this would take several techniques combined -- but it would be painless.

First we had to tone down the burned in foreground, brighten up the deep shadows of the background, and get the image into balance.

A gradient mask is the key to success here

There was no reason to get complicated since the solution was so easy.

Returning to normal mode (click the Quit QuickMask mode buttom,) we returned to the art and used the brightness slider, levels, etc., to lighten all but the deep foreground where the image was already bright.

It would have been just as easy to use a new "Fill" layer (Layer Menu > New Fill Layer > Gradient) and save that to a channel, or let it ride out the life of the file.

With our photo balanced out, now we needed to work on the subject a bit.

Changing Colors

The worker's shirt and cap were dingy, muddy colors and didn't seem to stand out enough to follow the editorial part of the story. We needed a new shirt and cap. These too were easy to accomplish.

Use the Lasso tool and make the quick selection around the shirt. (Actually, the Extract tool would work better here. But we want to show two different techniques to answer two different questions from readers, so we'll demo the Extract in just a moment.)

Note that a new layer has been created, a new icon is in that layer, and now our shirt is Green. (Open the "Before and After" image.)

Since it's overlaying the previous layer, adjust the brightness and turn the saturation way down. And, we can fine-tune that color change with the opacity slider in the layer palette.

Do the same for the hat. Presto, blue hat.

There are more complicated processes, like "Replace Color" but for such a simple change -- particularly of an already dingy image -- the Hue/Saturation route was the most direct.

Still lost in space? The photo still had one more little adjustment to pull that subject out of the quagmire. This time we will use the "Extract" filter for this task.

Next, we'll use the EXTRACT filter to separate the subject from the background

article continues...


... and thanks for reading!

Fred Showker
Fred Showker, Editor / Publisher of DTG Magazine

More ways to work with depth of field:

Add depth of field to perk up those dull photos The designer is often faced with customer-supplied photos. Many times there's little you can do to save them. One rule you can always count on is Isolation. Add drama and focus the readers' attention by isolating the subject of an image. While there are many ways to do this, here's my favorite way

Digital Photo Depth of Field - Focus Fall-Off In this free Photoshop tutorial we demonstrate the ease of gradient masks, layer masks and blurring to save a one-time-only photograph for a web page. We also utilize the cool photo filter to finish this shot with Depth of Field or Focus Fall-Off


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