How to isolate a person (not a bald one) from background

Look for Pixelmator tutorials, tips & tricks, and how-to’s here.
User avatar

2011-10-29 10:29:26

I'm looking for a tutorial that shows how you can isolate a person from the background, especially in case the person has hair which makes it more difficult to do.
User avatar

2011-10-29 17:41:19

When you isolate, are you trying to "cut" them out or apply color changes, etc solely on them within the picture?

If you are trying to "cut" them out here's a helpful video:
User avatar

2011-10-29 19:30:02

@gamrcobe; thanks very much for your reply.

It is more about removing a background to isolate the person on a white, black or other color. As soon as the picture becomes complex, the standard tools don't really do their job (at least, for somebody with little PXM/Photoshop experience, like me).
User avatar

2011-10-30 15:34:41

Select the magic wand tool and choose the 'add' function (the second icon in the tool's settings).

Now click and drag over the background until most of the parts you want to have removed are selected.

Choose Edit > Invert selection and press Q to go to quick mask mode.

Using a black brush you can now remove any artifacts from your selection.

Hit Q again and select layer > add layer mask.

Et voilà, a perfectly clipped image (and your original image is still intact because you only masked out the parts you didn't need)

Good luck!
User avatar

2011-10-30 22:47:20

That sounds great - but would that work if the background has similar colors - i have found that it sometimes cuts into the main piece I want to leave in tackt

Thank you!

User avatar

2011-10-31 07:47:51

That's why you'll have to do the last bit using a quickmask. Still beats doing everything by hand.
User avatar

2011-10-31 13:09:21

ok great - how do you do a quick mask? I appreciate this thank you
User avatar

2011-10-31 17:01:32

That's pretty easy. Hit Q and paint over the part you want to select using a black brush. Use a white brush or the eraser for parts you don't want to select. Hit Q again to turn your quick mask into a selection. You can toggle between the two while working.

But most of the time it's easier to not use a quick mask at all and just use the polygon lasso tool in the way you would use the pen tool. Hold down the shift key to add parts to your selection and the option key to remove parts.

When done, in the layers palet, control-click on the layer you want to clip and select 'make mask'
User avatar

2011-11-05 10:40:05


You talk about using a brush after having gone into quick mask mode. Do you mean i have to keep using the Magic Wand tool?

Am i right when i understand that you have to zoom in when you want to remove small artifacts?
User avatar

2011-11-05 12:14:22


I do mean the brush tool, and yes, I would be wise to zoom to 100%. This way your absolutely sure you don't miss anything.

User avatar

2011-11-05 15:13:20

OK. I'll give it a try. I have some nice material for practicing. Thanks very much!
User avatar

2011-11-06 05:35:31

This is how I do it always:
Duplicate the layer, ,desaturate.
Increase the contrast so much, that you can isolate the person from the background,by using just black and white paint (you need to paint a little to make things completely black or white).
From there it's only a breeze to make a nice slection.
After selection ,you can hide ,or remove the duplicated layer.


EDIT: the picture seems a bit large for the forum. If you drag it a little sideways, you'll see the duplicated layer above the original picture.
User avatar

2011-11-11 19:28:12

This sounds like a good hint, which i will try to apply. Thanks for this.
User avatar

2018-01-15 10:54:10


I'm pretty new to this, and I seem to have lost use of my eraser tool! I'm sure I used it when I first had Pixelmator (for my Mac) but I just cannot get it to work now.
User avatar

2018-01-15 11:15:35

Just sorted it, thanks.

I had left the dotted lines still from the previous tool used!