Yesterday we showed you a few simple tips to help you take better pictures and today we’d like to give you a few tips on how to make a good picture better in post processing. As the terms suggest, post processing is the cleaning and enhancing of images to make them ready to use for high quality print, web publishing or just look great on your mantel place. In this workshop, we’ll be using Adobe Photoshop to show you Step-by-Step guides to various techniques to quickly and seamlessly enhance portraits, landscapes and indoor product shots.

When you shoot a product, even with a white background, the backdrop isn’t always appealing, which is why cut-outs are used. The idea with cut-outs is to get only a product without its jarred background so that you can place the product onto a fresh white backdrop or another background of your choice.

Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Open the image in Adobe Photoshop, zoom in to it (100%), and select the pen tool from the tool bar on the left. Create a digital trace along the edges of the product, we’ve used a laptop for illustration.
Step 2: Look for the edge of the product that runs in a straight line, and click on it to create your first node. Instead of creating multiple nodes, go to the end of this straight line and click to create the second node. Ensure that the line joining these two nodes matches the edge of the laptop.
Step 3: If the line doesn’t match, click in the middle of the line to add a new node. Hold down the [Ctrl] key and drag this new node to adjust the line. The same technique is used for curves.

Tip: Use the [Ctrl] key whenever you would like to re-position or adjust a node. To delete a node, click on it and hit [Delete].

Step 4: When you come across a curve or a protrusion, click on the last node in the row, and click on the other end of the curve to create a new node. You notice a line running across the curve, where part of the product is falling out of the trail. Here, use Step 3 to bend the line and match it with the curve.
Step 5: Now click on the last node to continue the trail along the edges. When you are nearing completion, at the starting point (the first node), you’ll notice a tiny circle next to the pen. Click on the starting point to close the loop. You’ve just created a cut-out path for the laptop.
Step 6: Now, go to the side panel, select the tab ‘path’, double-click on the work path, rename it, and save the file.
Step 7: Press [Ctrl] + [Shift] and click on the renamed path to activate the cut-out selection. Now press [Ctrl] + J to duplicate this selection to a new layer with a transparent background. Press [Ctrl] + [Shift] + N to turn this into a new layer and click OK.

Tip: Since the cut-out path gets saved along with the file, you can re-open the file and start from Step 7, if an error occurs.

Step 8: In the side panel, switch to the ‘Layers’ tab, and press [Shift] + F5 (you’ll be prompted) to fill this layer with ‘White’. The canvas will turn completely white. From the menu bar, go to Layer | Arrange | Send to back. You now have the laptop with a clean white background. Go to file | Save as, and save the file as a PSD (default).

Tip: At this stage if you want this laptop on another background, import the background (File | Open | background file). Revert to the saved laptop document, right-click on the cut-out layer, and select ‘duplicate layer’. Here, in the ‘destination’ drop down menu, select the document that contains your background image, and click ‘OK’.

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