Photo #2 - Easy To Select Background

In this picture our subject is photographed against an almost uniform blue sky as she is holding a kite string. This photo is more complex than the first because the shirt contains a busy pattern.

If we were to select the person using the same techniques as on photo #1, our task would be more time consuming because of the numerous contrasting blocks of color. To make our job considerably easier, we will select the sky instead and then inverse our selection.

If you have not done so already, download the holding-kite-line.jpg image and then continue with the steps below.

Make a Copy of the Original

Always make a copy of digital photo files before editing them so that the original is not lost.

  1. Start Photoshop Elements.
  2. Open the original image file.

    • File > Open
    • Locate the file to open on your computer (in this case holding-kite-line.jpg) and select it by clicking on it once
    • Click the Open button

  3. Save a copy as a Photoshop (PSD) file.

    • File > Save As
    • Change the Format to Photoshop
    • Keep the suggested file name of holding-kite-line.psd
    • Click Save

The above steps opened the original image file, saved a copy under a new name, and closed the original file. At this point the only open file on your screen should be the copy, named holding-kite-line.psd.

Select the Object

  1. Click the Magic Wand Tool Magic Wand Tool.
  2. On the top toolbar, configure the settings as follows:
    • Click the New selection mode button New selection
    • Set Tolerance to 50
    • Remove the checkmark from Anti-alias
    • Set the checkmark on Contiguous
    • v2 Remove the checkmark from Use All Layers
    • v3 & v4 Remove the checkmark from Sample All Layers

  3. The first click on the Magic Wand Tool selected the left side of the sky almost perfectly.

    The first click on the Magic Wand Tool selected the left side of the sky almost perfectly.

  4. Select part of the sky by clicking on the left side. I clicked on coordinates X:235 Y:648.

    Notice that our selection was almost entirely of sky, with a few small sections selected along the person's right arm. We will take care of those shortly.

  5. Add the other half of the sky to the selection.

    • Make sure that the Magic Wand Tool is still selected Magic Wand Tool
    • On the top toolbar, click the Add to selection mode button Add to selection
    • Click on the sky to the right of the kite string. I clicked on coordinates X:1,105 Y:372.

    We have now selected both sky sections—the opposite of what we are really after.

  6. After inversing the selection, the person became selected with a few missing sections along the arms and shoulders.

    After inversing the selection, the person became selected with a few missing sections along the arms and shoulders.

  7. Inverse the selection so that the person becomes selected and the sky unselected.

    Command: Select > Inverse

    At this point the person and kite string are selected almost perfectly. A few imperfections remain along the shoulders that we will fix with the techniques learned on photo #1.

    You may have noticed that the hair contains some of the sky's blue. It is nearly impossible to perfectly select strands of hair without any of the surrounding colors. To reduce the impact, insert this selection into an image with a similar blue background, use a larger Feather setting, or use the Replace Color tool to change the blue in the hair.

  8. On the top toolbar, change Tolerance to 30. This lower setting is necessary to select sections with less contrast.
  9. Add all of the small missing sections along the arms and shoulders by clicking inside each. Zoom in close to make this process easier.
  10. After you are satisfied with your selection, feather it so that it blends smoothly with the image into which it will be inserted.

    • Select > Feather
    • Enter 3 into Feather Radius. We are using a larger setting than the previous photo to blend the hair better.
    • Click OK

  11. Save the selection so that you can bring it up later—required for the exercises on the last page.

    • Select > Save selection
    • In the Name box enter person
    • Click OK

  12. Save your work.

    Command: File > Save

Two of the easy photos are done. Next comes a more complex photo which represents a large majority of snapshots. Next page »