Improving My Cosplay Photoshop Part 2

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Here we go again. Before I can achieve my dream of ruling the world with epic cosplay, I must master this skill called “Photoshop”. So round 2, fight! The topic this time round will be “character extraction”… or rather “perfect character extraction”. Oh, and this time round, I picked up an interesting book called “The Photoshop Workbook” which you can get it off Kindle. Let’s see how much this book can teach me.

As usual, I picked a photo from Pixabay and started working on it. I chose this girl, because skilled Photoshoppers will know how auto selection screws up over very close colors. That will make a good challenge.

Step 1 – I didn’t quite agree with the selection method in the book, so I did my usual “magic wand mask” and “brush on mask”… which is a faster way to do on f***ed up images like this one.

Step 2 – Since edge detection fails to work properly on this one, I had to do more semi-manual masking with the magnetic lasso tool.

Step 3 – Finally left with the hair area, which the refine mask could work on 70% accurately.

Step 4 – Looks pretty good, and this is where I usually use refine mask to clean up the mess. But the book of forbidden techniques teaches otherwise, which I shall test out.

Layer effects -> inner shadow. This is supposed to fix the hair and make it look more natural. I chose the angle to be 0 degree because of the direction of the hair. Also, I left the color of the shadow as black… because the model has black hair.

Step 5 – Well, that does seem to do some magic to the hair and fixing up those wispy bits. One more step for the masking. Layer -> Layer Style -> Create Layer. Now to clean up where the shadow is not required. I.E. Leave the shadow on the hair only.

Step 6 – Now to clear that annoying outline, which I usually do with the refine mask. Again, the book shows a different technique. Select the model’s layer mask, Blur -> Gaussian Blur. A few pixels did fix the outline, and smooth out those “sharp edges”.

Step 7 – One last step from the ninja scroll. Layer -> Adjustments -> Levels. Drag the black somewhere to the center. Well, that did get rid of the annoying outline, but that also removed the hair entirely… so I guess there is still a limit to how far to push those blacks.

The final extracted image. Took a little longer than usual, but I guess that did result in a slightly better extraction. Still a little clunky, but I shall put what I learnt into good use and refine my extraction process – Photoshop Skill Level Up!

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