Ginger's Day at the Digital Grooming Parlour
A Background Eraser Exercise
By Tere

Tere's idea was to lift Ginger out of the background, preserving as much of his fluffy look as possible, and place him on a neutral background.

1. Here is Ginger, au naturel, except for some cropping done on the original.



2. Tere's first effort was to fix the eyes, toning down the white reflections off the retinas.

This didn't need to be perfect as she planned on the final version being much smaller which would minimize any residual problems.

What Tere really dreaded was selecting Ginger and lifting him out of the background.

Ginger 1b

3. Tere did this "original" selection with the Smart Edge tool. She felt it was going to be a mess and wasn't sure she could fix it in a way that would keep a sense of Ginger's furriness.

Ginger 1csc

4. And it certainly seemed a mess, as shown on right, when she copied and pasted the selection onto a new image with the solid background Tere knew she would use in the end.

Ginger looked like the groomer had used pinking shears.

Ginger 1c2

5. Undaunted, Tere snooped around looking around for a tool to help her. She stumbled upon the Background Eraser and was glad she did.

In her options set up, under Sampling, Tere picked "Once."

"Once" means that the first pixel you click on is the color you will erase, modified by Tolerance settings. Tere was not sure how the "Continuous" Sampling option would work out so she avoided it.

The "ForeSwatch" and "BackSwatch" options sounded interesting, but she didn't try them here. (She advocates reading the Help entry for the background eraser tool before trying it.)

Tere tried out lots of opacity and tolerance options and would suggest starting off with both opacity and tolerance low. You will find something you like by practicing. Don't forget the Undo keys (CTRL +Z)

Ginger 1c4

Anyway, it worked out something like this, as shown in some shots of the first round of Background Eraser attempts.


Ginger 1c4a
As rough as these look, the trials were actually very useful in showing Tere what she could erase completely using the actual Eraser tool, and what she had to tackle more carefully with different settings of the Background Eraser. Ginger 1cb

Since the final result with erasers was still a bit rough, Tere used the Soften tool and a bit of the Lighten retouch tool to smooth out Ginger's edges.

And here is the final version of Ginger, all dressed up for his appearance on a "birthday card." (He'd probably bite if anyone tried to put a hat on him in real life.)

Ginger finished
Tutorial and Images copyright 2008
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