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MartinKoss

Refine Masks (recover fur and whiskers)

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Hi everyone.

Most of my photos are animals and I love to extract them and place them on new backgrounds but, the inevitable, getting fur and whiskers selected is always a challenge. In Affinity Photo I just did a selection and then refined the selection (of a tiger with a horrible background) and then saved to new layer with mask. However, part of the tiger's head didn't get refined very well and I've lost all whiskers too. How can I get back into 'refine mask' or is there anything I could do better to speed up this wort of work?

Thanks.

Martin

_MEK5973-Edit.jpg

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There's lots of tutorials out there. This might be a good place to start.


Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.

These are not my own words but I sure like this quote.

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2 minutes ago, AffinityJules said:

There's lots of tutorials out there. This might be a good place to start.

Thanks. I have seen that one but sadly I've never managed to photograph an animal with a solid background... :-) I just went into 'refine mask' from right clicking the mask layer but now, every brush stroke is making the mask worse than it was. I think I'm heading back to photoshop...

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I hear what you're saying. Most tutorials where subjects are removed always seem to have plain backgrounds, that makes it look easy.

It might help if you showed us the picture in question.


Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.

These are not my own words but I sure like this quote.

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2 hours ago, AffinityJules said:

I hear what you're saying. Most tutorials where subjects are removed always seem to have plain backgrounds, that makes it look easy.

It might help if you showed us the picture in question.

This is an image I tried to mask out all the background but save the whiskers but every attempt I lost the whiskers.

Tiger-_MEK5973.jpg

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May not be the help you after; however, I try to reduce the brush size to just cover the whiskers.  Refine the selection, mask to layer and use erase brush to clean up.  I hope someone will offer more, it is a struggle. Good luck.


Cecil 

iMac Retina 5K, 27”, 2019. 3.6 GHz Intel Core 9, 40 GB Memory DDR4, Radeon Pro 580X 8 GB, macOS 10.5.4 iPad Pro iPadOS

 

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection 

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best option here would be to mask out the background and paint the whiskers back in


iMac 27" Late 2015 Fully Loaded, iMac 27" Mid 2011 both running High Sierra 10.13.6 - Affinity Designer/Photo & Publisher - Illustrator CC, Inkscape, Blender, Sketchup, Pepakura Designer, MTC, Pixelmator & Pixelmator Pro + more... XP-Pen Artist-22E, - iPad Pro 12.9 B|  

Affinity Help - Affinity Desktop Tutorials - Feedback - FAQ - most asked questions

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14 minutes ago, firstdefence said:

best option here would be to mask out the background and paint the whiskers back in

Yup. I would have to agree on that one. It's a nightmare to try and refine. I've tried it and got nowhere.


Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.

These are not my own words but I sure like this quote.

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Even with a Huion Tablet, 4-8 px, very hard/impossible to draw, for me, to draw the whiskers.


Cecil 

iMac Retina 5K, 27”, 2019. 3.6 GHz Intel Core 9, 40 GB Memory DDR4, Radeon Pro 580X 8 GB, macOS 10.5.4 iPad Pro iPadOS

 

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection 

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Well your best option for finer details (like hair, fur, whiskers etc.) will probably be to use channels here, for making then some more accurate selections. - Color there anything unwanted black so you have a base for selections and maskings.

2019-11-05_01-18-14.jpg.a0b1ed36bee49051cc7c5934091e0900.jpg


☛ Affinity Designer 1.8.3 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.8.3 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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7 hours ago, Cecil said:

Even with a Huion Tablet, 4-8 px, very hard/impossible to draw, for me, to draw the whiskers.

I would probably use the smudge tool at about 3-8 px, Flow: 100% and Strength: 95% You could create a pixel layer add coloured dots and smudge out whiskers. This is what I got using the mouse.

Screen-Shot-2019-11-05-at-07-11-16.png

 

Screen-Shot-2019-11-05-at-07-12-58.png

You could have layers for the dark whiskers and layers for the white, you could also give them a bit of translucency by dropping the opacity of the layer a bit.


iMac 27" Late 2015 Fully Loaded, iMac 27" Mid 2011 both running High Sierra 10.13.6 - Affinity Designer/Photo & Publisher - Illustrator CC, Inkscape, Blender, Sketchup, Pepakura Designer, MTC, Pixelmator & Pixelmator Pro + more... XP-Pen Artist-22E, - iPad Pro 12.9 B|  

Affinity Help - Affinity Desktop Tutorials - Feedback - FAQ - most asked questions

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firstdefence great job.  I didn’t try dots and blur, doubt I could replicate your results.  I struggled getting the visual of the whiskers, after applying pixel fill layer to highlight whiskers.  This applies to many photos, the tools just make the process extremely difficult and time consuming.  I could be wrong in thinking the app should do a better selection.


Cecil 

iMac Retina 5K, 27”, 2019. 3.6 GHz Intel Core 9, 40 GB Memory DDR4, Radeon Pro 580X 8 GB, macOS 10.5.4 iPad Pro iPadOS

 

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection 

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The problem with the whiskers is the majority of them are so close to the background tone and very fine that making any reasonable selection is going to be very difficult if not impossible. I've tried with a few other masking apps and they all struggle to get something that can be used.


iMac 27" Late 2015 Fully Loaded, iMac 27" Mid 2011 both running High Sierra 10.13.6 - Affinity Designer/Photo & Publisher - Illustrator CC, Inkscape, Blender, Sketchup, Pepakura Designer, MTC, Pixelmator & Pixelmator Pro + more... XP-Pen Artist-22E, - iPad Pro 12.9 B|  

Affinity Help - Affinity Desktop Tutorials - Feedback - FAQ - most asked questions

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1 hour ago, firstdefence said:

The problem with the whiskers is the majority of them are so close to the background tone and very fine that making any reasonable selection is going to be very difficult if not impossible. I've tried with a few other masking apps and they all struggle to get something that can be used.

I have found Photoshop "Contrast" refine selection modifier useful in these kinds of selections, but APhoto does not seem to have a similar control (???) Often removing the environmental saturation also helps, and use of slight transparency, as you did, to get hair, whiskers and alike thin enough. But it is time consuming. I often just "join the dots" in very close range with a polygon selector tool when there is no uniform background, then correct and refine, it is surprisingly effective, even if boring... I miss the Photoshop feature that autoscrolls when moving a selector pointer near the window edges. Mouse wheel and left and right wheel tilt are ok, but not as convenient.

It is a good ideato save selection(s) in spare channel(s) and keep the original in a backup layer, to be able to come back and make corrections to the mask.

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Well had a bit of time to doodle and thanks to @Lagarto I took another look and I didn't know why I didn't think to use the pen tool and change the pressure profile to make a tapered line for the whiskers, then I thought hey what about some brushes for tiggers whiskers, so I tried copying the whiskers on tigger first and that was pretty good so now I'm making some kitty brushes lol!

These are the whiskers I drew.

1566013957_Tigerwhiskers.png.24e355595efe403bc0d8e78307afdef2.png

This is what they look like
2080820617_ScreenShot2019-11-05at18_20_41.thumb.png.4b665a7e9b84aea7dae9ce8cd4706c59.png

This is the pressure profile.
878944119_ScreenShot2019-11-05at18_20_08.png.3e16075a9716c82744321834599b17d2.png


iMac 27" Late 2015 Fully Loaded, iMac 27" Mid 2011 both running High Sierra 10.13.6 - Affinity Designer/Photo & Publisher - Illustrator CC, Inkscape, Blender, Sketchup, Pepakura Designer, MTC, Pixelmator & Pixelmator Pro + more... XP-Pen Artist-22E, - iPad Pro 12.9 B|  

Affinity Help - Affinity Desktop Tutorials - Feedback - FAQ - most asked questions

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3 hours ago, firstdefence said:

These are the whiskers I drew.

This is an interesting approach!.At first one is tempted to dismiss this as a case of "thin line" par excellence, deeming adding anything in a photo by drawing as "cheating" -- while trying to invoke pixels you know are there, but just "poorly represented", by using a mixed collection of image manipulation techniques is supposed to be ok! But actually you're doing pretty much the same thing when tracing with a brush as when you are finishing up a smoothed selection to have realistically looking whiskers using things like transparency, saturation removal, possibly combined with a bit of feathering -- with a brush you just do this more cleverly. 

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On 11/4/2019 at 11:54 PM, Cecil said:

Even with a Huion Tablet, 4-8 px, very hard/impossible to draw, for me, to draw the whiskers.

Yes the whiskers are proving to be the most challenging part. Masking the body areas isn’t too bad because the smudge tool (and other suggestions) work to introduce a bit of fur on the edges but whiskers are challenging. They are not uniform lengths, thickness, straightness or anything so they can’t (accurately) be added with a purchased or free brush. I appreciate your suggestions.

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On 11/5/2019 at 7:12 AM, firstdefence said:

I would probably use the smudge tool at about 3-8 px, Flow: 100% and Strength: 95% You could create a pixel layer add coloured dots and smudge out whiskers. This is what I got using the mouse.

Screen-Shot-2019-11-05-at-07-11-16.png

 

Screen-Shot-2019-11-05-at-07-12-58.png

You could have layers for the dark whiskers and layers for the white, you could also give them a bit of translucency by dropping the opacity of the layer a bit.

Cracking job. Thank you for explaining how you did that. I will add that to my list of things to attempt. :-) 

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18 hours ago, firstdefence said:

Well had a bit of time to doodle and thanks to @Lagarto I took another look and I didn't know why I didn't think to use the pen tool and change the pressure profile to make a tapered line for the whiskers, then I thought hey what about some brushes for tiggers whiskers, so I tried copying the whiskers on tigger first and that was pretty good so now I'm making some kitty brushes lol!

These are the whiskers I drew.

1566013957_Tigerwhiskers.png.24e355595efe403bc0d8e78307afdef2.png

This is what they look like
2080820617_ScreenShot2019-11-05at18_20_41.thumb.png.4b665a7e9b84aea7dae9ce8cd4706c59.png

This is the pressure profile.
878944119_ScreenShot2019-11-05at18_20_08.png.3e16075a9716c82744321834599b17d2.png

WOW! This I shall be trying to replicate! I'd love to be able to recreate that layer of the whiskers. Thank you for showing that method.

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