How to cut out a character from an image

Hi, we've had a photoshoot of a hundred images of people in front of a white board. I now need to cut out these people so they are on a transparent background. The white board was just a large white screen. I can do this successfully in Photoshop, it just isn't a quick process. It is a very slow process. Currently using Photoshop CS5.

I wondered if there is a quicker method? or different software? Anything that would help to speed up the process.

The steps I am currently using are as follows.

Using Photoshop CS5

1) Create a new layer
2) Layer - Layer Mask - From Transparency
3) Create a black layer at bottom so can see accuracy of cutting out
4) Using Polygonal Lasso Tool, cut character out in multiple stages

Thanks.
RupertAAsked:
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Tom BeckCommented:
Use the Magic Wand selection tool. Play with the tolerance setting. If the background is white, it should be easy to separate subject from background. You can also use the Magnetic Lasso selection tool if you have that in CS5. Much easier than the Polygon Lasso.

If neither of those work, give us a sample image.
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Tom BeckCommented:
Oh, and in case it's not obvious, you would use the Magic Wand tool on the white background. When you have that all selected go to Select --> Inverse to select the subject.
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MontoyaProcess Improvement MgrCommented:
If all your backgrounds are white, then a much faster way is to:

Create a duplicate layer
Use the background eraser tool and set the tolerance level at 20 percent, for example
Make sure the crosshairs are touching the color you want to remove....

Voila!

You may have to play with the tolerance setting.
If you want to save a few steps, you could automate the part where you're creating a dupe layer, etc.. but it's so simple that automating wouldnt make sense.

Good luck!
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RupertAAuthor Commented:
Ok, I have had a go with magic wand selection tool and it was OK, but got a green silhouette round the image. I will now try the background eraser tool idea. As requested, attached is the source image I have tried it on. Thanks.
Darren1.jpg
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EirmanChief Operations ManagerCommented:
It's worth learning how to use the magnetic tool.
This is a good into to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8xJ0yBFfCw

My tip #1 .... If (and you will) go wrong, bring the cursor back where you want to be
and use the backspace key to delete unwanted nodes.

My tip #2  To get tight into corners etc. you can force a node by just clicking in the corner

So in use, zoom well in and use the spacebar to move/drag you way around the image.
Move the mouse over the edge and let photoshop insert the nodes with occasional 'forced' clicks/nodes.

This won't save you much time but may give better results.
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Paul SauvéRetiredCommented:
You can use the "Feather edges" feature to get rid of the 'green edge' around the edge of the image...Darren1.tif
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tailoreddigitalCommented:
Every project varies on the approach but with your image the background is solid enough to use the magic wand.   In my example,

1) i used the magic wand with a tolerance of 90 to select all the white.    After selecting the bulk of the white,  holding the shift key i added to my selection the white between the fingers (but forgot to add the white between arm and waist, be sure to do this).    

2) I feathered the selection by 1 (softens the edges).   I inverted the selection, which instead of having the white selected, now Darren is selected, then i control+J  (with the Darren layer selected)  to copy Darren onto his own layer.    

3) Then using the Polygonal Lasso, i selected the extra white around each foot, smoothed and feathered, then deleted.

This is the end result,
Darren on Nothing
Attached is a video showing my process.
Cutting-Darren-Out.flv
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RupertAAuthor Commented:
Hi a, thanks for these comments. I have been using tailoreddigital's method above and will hand out points later. I'll just leave open for time being in case anyone wanted to comment. I recognise other good comments on this thread, so will share some points. However most points go to tailoreddigital as that is the method I am using.

I am getting a green halo round some of these images which I am taking off with polygonal tool. Any suggestions on that? I mean the slight green halo is on the original image so I can hardly blame photoshop technique on that.

Thanks and I will hand out points later.
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Tom BeckCommented:
The green halo is light reflected off the white background onto the back of the subject. You could try contracteing the selection 2 or 3 pixels, Select->Modify->Contract. Or play with the Refine Edge feature under Select.
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RupertAAuthor Commented:
That is very interesting re: the green halo reflecting off the white background onto the back of the subject. I know this is getting off topic, but is there anything in photography terms you can do to stop that happening? I am sure professional photographers don't get that whilst doing say family portraits.

I will try the Select - Modify - Contract to see if this works well for getting rid of it.

Thanks.
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RupertAAuthor Commented:
The Select - Modify - Expand does definitely work. Not all the image has a green halo, so I just do it on the parts where it is needed.
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Tom BeckCommented:
You are more likely to have a halo around dark hair or clothing when the background is light and reflective.

When selecting the background you would Expand. Selecting the subject, Contract.

To avoid the reflected light from the background you could:

1.)  Move the subject farther away from the background.
2.)  Use light absorbing backgrounds. These are backgrounds with neutral colors that have a matte finish.
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RupertAAuthor Commented:
Thanks for everyone's really useful tips. Gonna give out points now.
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