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Advanced Background Removal: Pine Needle Branches

Explorer ,
Jun 14, 2024 Jun 14, 2024

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Hi Everybody,

 

I need to remove a white background from a set of pine needle branches. I'm trying a number of selection methods and watched/searched for a number of tutorials on the subject, but I can't seem to find one that reach this level of detail. 

 

Does anybody know of good toturials for this sort of thing? I know Joey Korenman of School of Motion did one like ten years ago using color channels for removing hair but I can't find that one either. 

 

Any suggestions appreciated, thanks! 🙂

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Adobe
Community Expert ,
Jun 14, 2024 Jun 14, 2024

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Could you provide an example image for others to offer suggestions?

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Explorer ,
Jun 17, 2024 Jun 17, 2024

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Well, here's one using layer style blending options. I've also tried using color range and select subject with magic wand work. I just can't seem to get up to their edges without chewing out the middle, and it's too narrow and intricate for me to core back in. 

 

 

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 17, 2024 Jun 17, 2024

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Fellow amateur here – I’m interested in the answer to this! Here are some things I tried.

 

My first thought was to see if I could adjust the image to increase the contrast between the subject and the background. People sometimes use Channels for this – go to the Channels tab and turn off all but the Green channel. That creates a decent contrast you can start with.

donb52979168_0-1718656578561.png

 

It’s still a little fuzzy though, there is green in a lot of the image. But channels can sometimes get you closer. 

 

Next, I tried Select -> Color Range. In the Select Color Range dialog, there are three eyedroppers on the right. The left-most will pick a single color to select, and the sliders can be used to make that color choice "fuzzy". The middle eyedropper has a plus sign ("+") and the right-most has a minus sign ("-"). I used the left-most eyedropper to reset the color selection by clicking on the background. Then I switched to the "plus" eyedropper, and selected all around the image anywhere there was background color showing through, and up the edges and top of the image to pull in all the shades of the background color. When you're done, hit OK, then go  into "Select and Mask" (if that's not showing, pick a Selection tool like Quick Selection) and fix any parts of the selection that aren't right, such as the middle, darker branches that may have been selected inadvertently. 

 

My result is below.

donb52979168_1-1718656578583.png

 

Another way I’ve seen people try to draw out contrast is using a Black and White adjustment layer. Below, I pushed the colors all the way to the right. (There are presets here, too, I’m still learning this.) This brightened up the image and created a good contrast between the needles and background. I'm not sure it's better than the others, but at times it might be. 

donb52979168_2-1718656578631.png

 

You can also brute force use a layer mask to mask out the background by painting around the needles. It would take a long time, and it helps to have a pen tablet like Wacom, but sometimes I find that’s the only great option based on my knowledge and experience. 

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