Out of Bounds and Outside of the Box

Release those images from the restraints of a 4 sided box. With some simple masking tools and making your own frame, turn  a 2 dimensional image confined by 4 sides into one that appears more 3D and defies the limitation of normal photography. This effect which is often refered to as “Out-of-Bounds”, is easy to achieve. All that you need is a couple of layers in Photoshop, a little creativity and somewhat of an idea about perspective.

I first came across this style of art about 10 years ago from a site which held weekly photo shopping contests. It looked so complicated at the time, I had to know how it was done. Luckily, on the same site, someone was gracious enough to share their techniques. Turns out, that it really isn’t a time-consuming task at all. I have finished several images over the years with this effect and have always received positive feedback and inquiries on how it’s done.

After receiving many requests on “how it’s done”, I put together the following video demonstrating the basic techniques that I use.

The key is to begin with an image that portrays a strong element of perspective. Then analyze the portion of the photo that you would like to have extend beyond the new bounding box or area that you will be applying. Careful placement of exactly where the new border, or frame will go can mean the difference between a lot or a short amount of time spent masking and making shadow layers.

The same technique can be applied to and image where your new ‘bounding box’ is text or shapes. The concepts are the same.

Good Luck and Happy “Shopping”. Remember: Think “Outside the Box”.

Categories: Tutorials | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Mask Hair or anything with Texture from a Dark or Black Background

The key to Masking anything in Photoshop to make an extraction or to replace the background or just change the color of the background is to begin in the channels section. You want to find the channel which gives the most amount of contrast between the subject and the background. If either of the red, blue or green channels don’t offer the most amount of contrast, then creating a new Alpha channel is your best bet.

Every image is different, so naturally a technique which works for one image, may not necessarily work for another. In most situations, though, it’s just a case of modifying your available tools and techniques to get the best results for your specific needs. The important part is to be able to understand why and what each technique is best used for.
Layer masks are best made from a layer or channel which offers the most amount of contrast between the subject that you are extracting or masking, and the background that you are changing or replacing.

In this example I take an image which was shot on a black background of a model with light-colored hair which did provide a fair amount of contrast. Although some of the light spilled onto the background causing an unwanted gradient of black to dark grey. I wanted to replace the background with a solid color. Keep in mind whenever you change the background, it is best to choose a replacement which has a similar luminosity to your original, as the further you get from being similar, the more apparent the extraction or masking will be. For example, if I had replaced this black background with white, the mask edge would have been visible. It is possible to switch from light to dark or dark to light, however, that requires much more time spent refining your mask edge.

After looking in the channels pallet at my Red, Blue and Green channels, and after looking at the RGB channel, I knew that I could make a new Alpha channel combining 2 channels and using a blend mode which would give me a new channel that had a far more extreme contrast than what was available. I decided to duplicate my background layer, convert it to black and white, and boost the contrast between the black and the white before I used an image adjustment of calculations to produce a new Alpha channel, which was the final channel that I used to make a mask from. Sounds complicated? It’s not. Just keep in mind that masks are black and white, with no color, so making a new layer and converting to black and white seemed like a logical solution to boosting my contrast. The native Dodge and Burn tools available in the Photoshop toolbox, combined with some Level’s adjustment was the only tools I needed to work with black and white.

Watch this 10 min video of how I created a near perfect mask in under 5 minutes


The exact same technique can be applied with a few modifications to just about any image that has a good foundation of contrast, whether the background is black, white, patterned or colored. The concepts are the same, the key is utilizing the toolbox to be the most effective for your situation. If you can understand how the tools work, then you can easily modify the technique that I used in your own workflow. I have used the exact technique on an image with a middle color background on a dark-haired model and replaced the background with white and the mask edge was completely undetectable to the point where zoomed at 300% the mask edge was undetectable.

There will be more videos coming in the future dealing with similar masking solutions for various situations, so Please Subscribe to my blog if you’d like to be informed as they become available. Feel free to ask any questions or comment as well. Thanks for the read…Happy Masking!

Categories: Tutorials | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

5 Minute Quick Photoshop Tutorial Video about Making Beautiful Eyes

You Have the most Beautiful eyes…”How do you get them so clean and sharp?” It’s a question that I am asked on a frequent basis.

One of the most overlooked facts about a good capture of an eye is that it contains color noise. So it makes sense to me to try to smooth out some of the apparent speckles that are causing color shifting and cloudiness over the iris and pupil. Although the eyes may look fine at 100%, If your finished image is going to be presented at a huge size, it is imperative to have the clarity which best simulates what your eyes see in the natural world. There are varieties of plug-ins which will give fast, fantastic results, however the manual control of the already available tools in Photoshop give you much better results because you can fine tune the balance between smoothing the colors and sharpening the details.
Watch this 5 Min demonstration of one of the many techniques I use.

Before any noise removal is performed, it is highly recommended to correct any color changes that need to be done first as well as removing color casts. (Subscribe to my blog and keep a look out for upcoming videos and posts about color correcting and color cast removal techniques.)

The key to having the eyes look their best is to have the finished product looking as close to real life as possible. There is no “Magic” one step, to this or any finish. Photoshop is all about taking 2 steps forward, one step back. And the day you realize that Photoshop is not software designed to correct images but rather a toolbox for changing the color of pixels, that is the day that you are liberated from the mindset and you are well on your way to becoming a retouch artist. The face is already an exquisite subject to photograph. To alter its shape or any part of its shapes such as the eyes and nose, cheeks, chins, necks or mouths, should be kept down to minimum if not at all. Instead, fine tuning what is already there most often gives the best results as far as realism goes.

I plan on updating this blog on a regular basis with more “how it’s done” videos covering a variety of subjects related to high-end photo finishing techniques. Skin smoothing, texture retaining, how to fix fly away hair, wrinkled clothes, and many more subjects. So please subscribe and you will be notified every time that a new blog post is published. Feel free to share and comment as well as request a subject which you have questions about. Thanks for reading and “Happy Photoshopping”!

Categories: Tutorials | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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