Best way to remove background from a lot of pictures?

Hello elearning wizards!

I am making my own character pack for a project.  Had a photo shoot yesterday, so now I have a BUNCH of pictures to remove the background from.   I wanted to find out the fastest and most efficient way to do this.  Any tips and techniques you can share?

By the way, I have Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and PowerPoint to work with, though I'm willing to consider other programs.

Thanks!

Jill

17 Replies
Jill McNair

They all have similar backgrounds.  I did my best to lobby for a green screen or plain background, but time and circumstances did not allow it.  I've got a cinder block wall in the background.  I've attached one of the images.

Any suggestions would be appreciated - even if the suggestion is to reshoot.   Although I would love to get a few of them edited for a meeting on Monday.  

Jill

David Anderson

Okay, thanks. 

Couple things with the image. The subject is very close to the wall which causes darker shadows around 1/2 the image.

If you can re-shoot the images, you'd likely save some time removing the shadows.

PowerPoint 2010's remove background feature should get rid of most of the background. The shadow areas will be the challenge area, but there's good contrast around most of the image.

For this type of selection, there really isn't an easy way to automate the process; each image is going to require personal attention

Bruce Graham

Hi Jill.

I tried this in PPT2010 - the shadow causes challenges as David said.

I just cannot get it to make a clear enough differentiation between the background and the subject - it just kept eating portions of her hair...

Photoshop may do this better, but I do not use it so do not know.

Bruce

Jill McNair

Thanks for the feedback - and thanks for giving it a go Bruce.

I think I need to make my own portable green screen or something!  What looked like a gray background is anything but - there's a rainbow of colored rocks in those blocks!  I am going to re-shoot these - but I've got to have a few done for a meeting Monday

I tried PowerPoint, but was not happy with the result.  I looked up a bunch of Photoshop Elements tutorials (not very experienced here, but I know a little) and tried what they showed.  Nothing worked well.  In exasperation, I just zoomed way in and used the eraser tool.  Luckily these were taken a really high resolution, so when I zoomed in, I was able to clean up a few.  It was painstaking though, so it's not worth the time to do them all.  I'll save time by reshooting.  I've attached my one...is this acceptable?

I never appreciated a solid color background before today.  If these pictures had a solid background color, I could use lots of tools to simply make that color disappear!

Note to self - if ever doing your own character pack again - use a solid background ONLY!

Thanks again

Jill

David Anderson

Hey Jill -

Photoshop and Photoshop Elements have a tool called the Quick Selection Tool. That might be your best bet for knocking out the backgrounds.

I don't know if Elements 11 includes vector masking, but Photoshop has it. Combined with the quick selection tool, vector masking makes it really easy to refine your selection without damaging your original image.

The thing to keep in mind is that you don't need to make the world's best selection around your entire image if you're only using part of the image in your project. So, don't worry about the shoes if you only need a headshot.

Here's a very quick demo on using the quick selection tool.

Steve Flowers

Hi, Jill - 

I tend to shoot mine against a white wall. As Johnathan mentioned, pulling the talent away from the wall will help to maintain consistent illumination of the background. The shadow is a problem but it's not insurmountable. See this quick Screenr for the way I employ three tools to isolate elements from backgrounds. These work better with really high resolution images:

  • Quick Select Tool (use the [ ] brackets to adjust your brush size.
  • Quick Mask Mode (use the X key to toggle your brush from brush in mask to brush out mask)
  • Refine Edge Tool (use this selectively, it'll work really well on some edges but works best with high resolution separations)

The Screenr ends rather abruptly. Didn't plan it well

Susan Johnson

One of my favorite tools in Photoshop Elements 9 is the Magic Extractor Tool.

You can select it under Images. It’s really easy to use and the instructions are easy to follow.

Basically you use the red tool to identify the areas of the image you want to keep and then the blue tool to identify the areas you want to disappear. You can kind of just scribble in the image- catching key areas, but it doesn’t have to be fancy or too detailed. It works pretty well!

Jill McNair

Thanks David and Steve for the tutorials and everyone for the advice and suggestions!

I've tried many of the tools that you have suggested and I am not good at using them.  I can rarely get the selection just the way I want it. And sometimes when I mess it up, I can't fix it and have to start over.  I guess it just takes practice!  This character pack may just be what I need to bump my skills up to the next level.  

Jill

Veronica Budnikas

Jill McNair said:

Thanks for the feedback - and thanks for giving it a go Bruce.

I think I need to make my own portable green screen or something!  What looked like a gray background is anything but - there's a rainbow of colored rocks in those blocks!  I am going to re-shoot these - but I've got to have a few done for a meeting Monday

I tried PowerPoint, but was not happy with the result.  I looked up a bunch of Photoshop Elements tutorials (not very experienced here, but I know a little) and tried what they showed.  Nothing worked well.  In exasperation, I just zoomed way in and used the eraser tool.  Luckily these were taken a really high resolution, so when I zoomed in, I was able to clean up a few.  It was painstaking though, so it's not worth the time to do them all.  I'll save time by reshooting.  I've attached my one...is this acceptable?

I never appreciated a solid color background before today.  If these pictures had a solid background color, I could use lots of tools to simply make that color disappear!

Note to self - if ever doing your own character pack again - use a solid background ONLY!

Thanks again

Jill


Hi jill, I think you did a great job with this one, very acceptable IMHO.

Veronica