Many times in photography, you can end up with a image that features a beautifully detailed subject and a distracting background. Even though your foreground subject is the focus, your background can take away from the focal point of the image. Here are some simple steps using ReMask and Photoshop to easily clean up distracting backgrounds and bring attention back to your subject.
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Step 1: Open Image
For this tutorial, I’m going to be using Photoshop and ReMask. You can use photoshop or one of our other compatible host editors that supports layers. If you’d like to follow along using the mushroom image, I’ve included it for you to download.
Begin by opening your image by clicking File > Open…
This macro shot of the cluster of mushrooms is supposed to be the focal point of this image, but the greenery to the left is just a little too distracting for me. I will cut out the subject, and then remove the distracting background elements. In addition to using ReMask, I’ll be using a few layers in Photoshop, Photoshop’s Content Aware, and the Clone Stamp tool.
Step 2: Duplicate your Layer
I always like to edit non-destructively. This way I can compare my before and after images and can always start over if need be. I would suggest duplicating your layer. You can do this by right clicking on the layer and then selecting Duplicate Layer… or by using the short key cmd+j or ctrl+j.
Step 3: Open ReMask
With the newly duplicated layer selected, open Topaz ReMask. This is done by clicking Filter > Topaz Labs > Topaz ReMask.
Once your image is opened in ReMask, you will see the entire image with a green overlay. HINT: Anything that is green means that it will remain.
Step 4: Create Your Mask
Once you have your image opened in ReMask, you are going to want to create your mask. The first thing you will do is use the blue Compute Brush (blue paintbrush) and outline your subject.
After you use the blue compute mask, you will want to use the red Flood Fill to Cut Brush (red raindrop) to fill in the area you wish to remove. In our case, you will want to remove the background.
Step 5: Compute Your Mask
Once you are satisfied with your mask, click the COMPUTE MASK to create your mask. When the mask has been successfully completed, it will automatically switch you to the mask view. You can toggle between different views by clicking the various apple icons at the top of your screen.
As you can see, it did a pretty good job creating my mask, but you can tweak it a little bit if needed. ReMask will automatically compute the mask again.
Here’s my finished mask:
Click OK to import your mask back into Photoshop.
Step 6: Masking the Background
Turn off the layer that contains your newly created mask (clicking the eye icon will turn off visibility) and then select the layer just below it. This will be the layer that we use the Content Aware and Clone Stamp tool in.
Using the Square Marquee tool, or whatever selection tool you prefer to use, select the area that you wish to mask out.
After you have made your selection, right click inside the selection and choose Fill…
From there, you are going to choose the Content Aware selection from the drop down menu.
Photoshop will do the rest for you! I will suggest running the content aware multiple times. It will create a more natural effect.
You can also use the Clone Stamp Brush to clone the areas around your subject. To use the Clone Stamp Brush, simply hover over an area that you wish to clone. While holding the alt key, click to clone that area. Next, move to an area (of similar color or texture) that needs more of a natural transition in your background. Simply click to place the cloned area there. Repeat as necessary.
HINT: Try using a lower opacity or a softer brush to create a more natural edit and it’s completely ok if the mushrooms get distorted. Remember that mask we created earlier? This is where that comes into play!
Step 7: Turn on Your Mask
Turn back on your mask layer by clicking inside the box where the eye icon once was located to return visibility to that layer.
Step 8: Add Other Effects
Here is the final result:
If you’d like, you can process either or both layers with any of our other Topaz products. If you’d like to further process your image, I would suggest checking out these two tutorials:
Step 8: Saving your Work
When you’re happy with your edit, save your image by clicking File > Save As.. and then choose an appropriate file name. You can also save a .psd file if you would ever want to go back and make edits later on!
Topaz Remask allows you to rescue images and create compelling compositions that lead your viewers eye exactly where you intended it to go. No more hours of complicated masking or unsatisfied results. ReMask allows you to focus more on the enhancement of the image and less on masking.
If we haven’t quite sold you on the awesome power of Topaz ReMask, don’t worry! We let you try before you buy. Download a free 30-day trial of Topaz ReMask.