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Removing white background from fur

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Dominic Deacon
Removing white background from fur
on Sep 11, 2016 at 8:00:21 pm

I've been collecting a lot of stock photos lately with the subject isolated on a white background. Usually it's easy enough to remove the white with a colour select and mask but I'm having a lot of trouble getting reasonable results with animal fur like this lion shot: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-165448373/stock-photo-lion-sitting-looking-...

I feel this should be easy and am kicking myself for not getting good results but whatever I try I'm left with a lot of white in the loose fur. Is there a simple way to pull it entirely from the background?


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Kalleheikki Kannisto
Re: Removing white background from fur
on Sep 12, 2016 at 7:43:08 am
Last Edited By Kalleheikki Kannisto on Sep 12, 2016 at 8:10:16 am

Depending on the color of the subject, you can pull the mask from a channel that has most contrast between the background and the object. in this case it is the blue channel. Here I duplicated the blue channel, curved it darker and used it as a layer mask. Since there is white light wrap from the background (or from a previous cut-out), that needs to be compensated for, either toward the color of the fur of to the new background color or combination of both. I compensate it here towards the fur color with two inverted masks, one tight mask with about 1 pixel edge for the smaller hairs and one expanded soft mask of about 20 pixels for the overall shape edges. If you were compositing the result on a black background you'd have to be much more radical than this with the edge color correction, this was made to work with mid-range background colors. I did this quickly so I didn't bother with fixing the shadows.

10524_lioncutout.psd.zip

Kalleheikki Kannisto
Senior Graphic Designer


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Removing white background from fur
on Sep 12, 2016 at 4:30:39 pm

Not sure which version of PS you are on, but the Refine Edge tool works great for this kind of thing. It works really well with plain colored backgrounds, too. I do tons of photography against plain paper backdrops and the channel trick with refine edge is my 1-2 whammy. Good for pulling fine details.

Good tut:



(a bit slow, but he goes through several techniques)

Similar, but good:





There are more, but these pretty well cover it. I like the second one for the technique of painting white to a new layer to reveal the really tiny hairs.

Hope this helps. -Jonathan

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

http://www.electrictiger.com
520-360-8293


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Dominic Deacon
Re: Removing white background from fur
on Sep 13, 2016 at 9:40:48 pm

Thanks guys! Very helpful indeed.


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