Useful Tips

How to make a silhouette in Photoshop? How to photograph a silhouette?


You have already seen pictures with black silhouettes of people, figures of animals or objects. Such images are put on avatars, sometimes these mysterious silhouettes are superimposed on a bright background, it turns out quite interesting. There are even whole sites with designs in this style.

There are brushes for creating such figures. But now we will learn how to make a silhouette in Photoshop from photography on our own. The scheme is this: select the object, paint it black and remove the background. It would seem simple. But there are nuances. All the charm of such pictures is that the contour of the objects is clear and neat.

We will make silhouettes without a background so that the finished figures can be moved anywhere or add any background.

Source photo selection

This is an important point. Before you start working with photos, try to imagine how the object will look without details. Not all images are suitable.

1. It is desirable that the object was in the frame as a whole. If this is a person, a pose is preferred so that the arms and legs do not merge with the body. Otherwise, after you make a silhouette, you may get something incomprehensible. First, you can darken the photo using the “Brightness / Contrast” or “Levels” settings so that the subject becomes darker, then it will be easier for you to decide whether the picture is suitable.

2. The quality of the photo should be good.

3. It is desirable to have a contrast to the background object. Ideally - a plain contrasting background.

We took photos of a dancing ballerina and gymnast at the time of the jump. They are great for creating silhouettes, fig. 1.

Step 1: select an object

This is the second important point. The better the selection, the more pleased the result. One of the tools that gives precise selection, "Pen". But the work with him is painstaking. To make the selection faster, but at the same time high quality, you can use symbiosis "Pen" and "Quick highlight".

1. If you still need a background, duplicate the layer and work on a new one.

2. Choose "Quick selection", fig. 2,

in the menu above we set the appropriate size for it, select the object. After this, we probably see flaws: the tool captured something superfluous or, conversely, some fragments of the object did not stand out.

3. You can try to adjust the outline of the selection by switching modes in the menu above. There are three brushes there: we don’t need the first one (it is for transferring the contour), and the other two with plus / minus can be used to delete or add the selected area, Fig. 3.

In this case, it is better to set the diameter of the tool smaller.

4. If the flaws still remain, take "Pen". To add / remove a fragment, circle it with points along the contour. It is better to maximize the image. We connect the first point with the last and press the right mouse button, then "Create a selection", select the mode "Add to selection". If, on the contrary, you need to delete this fragment, click "Subtraction of the selected area".

But still, we advise you not to save time, but to highlight the entire object with "Pen"Then the contour will be as accurate as possible.

Step 2: create a silhouette in Photoshop

1. Go to the menu "Highlight"choose "Modification", then Smooth, set the value to 1-2 pixels. So the contour will turn out smoother, Fig. 4.

2. Now click on the menu "Highlight""Inversion"so that the background stands out, and then press DEL on the keyboard, the background will be deleted. If you have two layers, then make the first one with the background invisible. Again with Inversions make selection only on the object.

3. Now take "Brush" with black and 100% opacity and just paint over the selected object. Deselect CTRL + D. The silhouette is ready, Fig. 5.

You can paint over not with black, but with any other color.

In the same way, we made a second silhouette, and then superimposed the figures of a ballerina and gymnast on a bright background, duplicated the layers with figures, increased them and, lowering the transparency, placed them in the background. Here is what happened, Fig. 6.

And here is another picture. Used the same background as in the photo, and the filter "Application", fig. 7.

How to photograph a silhouette?

Despite the apparent simplicity of silhouette photographs, creating them will require your efforts and, of course, practice.

Before you take up the camera, you need to carefully consider the composition of the frame, since only the external contours of the object will be visible in the photo, it should be easily recognizable.

  • In order to photograph the silhouette, you need to turn off the automatic mode of your camera (if you suddenly use it) and switch, for example, to Av (Aperture Value) or A - aperture priority or to Tv (Time value) or S - shutter priority or into fully manual “M” mode. You need to disable automatic mode because the camera program has the function of maximizing the details of the foreground and, as a result, the camera, not knowing your idea, can turn on the flash and ruin everything.
  • Silhouettes are created in backlight (a bright light source located behind the subject). A great source of such light will be sunsets and sunrises. In order to get a good study of the clouds and the whole sky, the exposure must be set on a bright part of the sky. It is desirable that the background is solid.
  • The silhouette should be simple and easily recognizable, it also needs to be well drawn and not merge with other objects in the frame - trees, poles, grass. A large depth of field here also does not hurt.
  • If the shooting conditions do not allow you to shoot at fast shutter speeds - use a tripod and a remote control or the release cable, then you will definitely avoid moving.

Now you know how to photograph a silhouette, but in life everything does not always go smoothly and the idea may not work out the first time, in which case graphic editors will come to your aid.

How to make a silhouette in Photoshop?

If the idea could not be implemented live without the use of graphic editors, do not despair, you just have to spend a little time processing the frame in Photoshop.

This shot was conceived as silhouette, but the exposure, apparently, was not made on the brightest part of the sky, but on people, as a result, the sky turned out to be faded, and people were under-illuminated, as they say “not fish - not meat”.

Let's fix the situation.

If you wish, you can fix the blockage of the horizon, if it is very annoying (although in fact it is a slide). Next, open the image in Photoshop. Since the image is in the “RAW” format, we can draw more information from it than from the usual “JPG”, we will open it in Camera Raw.

The essence of processing is to select the object that you want to make a silhouette and reduce its brightness and increase contrast. Since the sky turned faded, you can play around with the color and increase its saturation.

To select an object, you can use the Quick Selection tool or follow a slightly different path (improvise and choose the most convenient and easy way for you for each specific photo).

I decided to use the Magic Wand tool, but before I use it, I need to take a few steps.

Open the image and adjust the color of the sky to your taste.

Next click on “Open Image”.

I want the cyclist and the earth to be a dark silhouette, for this they need to be highlighted and the brightness changed. You can select the sky and then invert the selection, or immediately select the necessary objects.

To simplify the selection process, I made the image black and white and made it so that the sky was as contrasted as possible with respect to the necessary objects.

Next, make the objects as black as possible.

Open the image by clicking on the “Open Image” button. The resulting image must be copied to a new layer to the color image.

Select an object using the “Magic Wand” (Magic Wand)

Since I did a quick example, the selection turned out to be inaccurate in many places, if you devote more time, the result will be much better.

If desired, the silhouette can be left on a white background.

Or use a “native background” with a tree

You can use a gradient instead of a white background

Can be done as follows

I think the general principle of answering the question “how to make a silhouette in photoshop”Is understandable, and you can easily improve your photos by realizing your idea to the end.

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