Manual Isolation action pack

31.34$

All people that work in product image retouching know how important it is to be able to replace the background with white solid color on many images, and fast. And when we do so, we need to make sure the background is truly white, not spotted or gray. Sometimes we are supposed to leave natural shadows, and when we do, it has to be an easy and fast process. The Manual Isolation action pack is made exactly for all that.

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Photoshop CC 2017, 2018 or 2019 (English version) is required for this product to be used.

Manual isolation action pack includes 3 action sets. One is for isolation, the other one is for shadow restoration, and the last one is for the isolation quality check.

There are two actions that facilitate manual isolation: “Isolate_manual_alpha” and “Isolate_manual_noalpha”. As you can tell from the names, one of them deals with alpha channels, while the other one doesn't. You only need alpha channels in your images if you're going to use alpha channel based alignment, described HERE (LINK).

When you make a selection around the object and run the action, it doesn't just fill the background with a white solid color but also creates an alpha channel that can be used to align the image after you've finished retouching it. Handling alpha channels takes time, so if you're not going to use the selection anytime later, use another action, the one that doesn't handle alpha channels.

All the actions in the set modify selections and fill them with white. That's all they do. It means that prior to using one of the actions from the set, you're supposed to select the background first. Why we need to modify selections, how we can do it and how to use isolating actions to isolate hundreds of images is thoroughly explained in the respective chapter of the course HERE (LINK).

Pay attention to the fact that any selection modification will most probably damage the texture of fine hairs, fur, feathers and things like that.

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If you've studied through the chapter of the course that is dedicated to background removal, or isolation, you already know about the importance of edge modification. In this video, I will only be demonstrating the actions. There are actions in the ISOLATE_MANUAL set that are practically identical. The first one is called ISOLATE_MANUAL_ALPHA, and the other one is ISOLATE_MANUAL_NOALPHA. You only need ALPHA version if you're going to use the alpha channel based alignment method, and the only thing it does differently is save the modified selection into an alpha channel. If you don't want to use this alignment method, if you want to crop and resize and align your images manually, use the ISOLATE_MANUAL_NOALPHA action as it works a bit faster.

There are two actions in the set and they all are script based. It means that to make them work you have to put the scripts that come with the actions in a special folder depending on where your Photoshop files are located. This folder would be different for Mac and Windows users, but that's covered in the instruction. Just make sure you don't forget to put the scripts in that folder, otherwise, the actions won't work.

When you have the selection of the background – most probably created with the Magic Wand, that is why we have to modify it, just run the action of your choice. If we just fill the background with white, it will be no good, because all the little dots that didn't get into the selection will stay in the image. But the action modifies the selection to make all the little dots go in. Then it fills the background with white, and if that was an ALPHA action it will also save the selection into an alpha channel. That's all.

All the actions leave just a single step in History, and they deselect the background after filling it. If you want to reselect the background, press Shift-Control-D immediately after, or Ctrl-click on the alpha channel if there is one. All the isolating actions won't run if there's no selection active and they will give you a warning instead.

Remember, that selection modification will most probably damage fur or any similar textures, so use the History Brush on the edge if that happens. The same process that lets us include trash on the background into the selection will damage fur, and that's inevitable.

If the background is really dirty, make sure you click with the Magic Wand thoroughly. Because edge modification is operating in pixel values, it will only work properly on high-res images. High resolution is absolutely necessary for proper isolation, and I don't see why anyone should use tiny images when all the cameras are able to shoot in high-res.

All the isolating actions should only be used once on the same area of the image. If something goes wrong, revert to the original state and fix the selection with Photoshop tools. However, if you forgot to isolate the insides of a bag handle, you can use the same action on a new selection, as in this case, it won't affect the same area twice.

The actions are adaptive, and they take the image size into account when modifying the selections. The bigger the image, the more severe the modification. In cases when you have a relatively small object, and the image size is large, the result might not be perfect. If I click around with the Magic Wand and run the action while the image is so huge, it will modify the edge quite seriously. To see the difference, I'll crop the object and isolate it again. Now if I switch between the layers, you'll see that on the top layer, the one I named BIG the edges of the object are more damaged than on the bottom layer, which was cropped when I isolated it. The difference is not so significant, but keep this in mind when you work with tiny objects. You might want to crop them first.

As you've probably noticed, the manual isolation pack contains two more action sets. One of them is the Isolation_check set that contains a single action called “Levels_pause_check”. What it does is very simple. The action fits the image to your screen so that you can see it better and then everything that is isolated becomes white, and the rest becomes black. It lets you see how well you isolated the image, whether the background is clean or there's still some trash left. And in a second the script reverts the image back to its original, not black and white state. So you don't have to undo it manually.

It's very reasonable to use the “Levels_pause_check” script or action right after the isolating action. To do so, just make the respective isolating action active by clicking on its name and then press the Record button. After that, run the “Levels_pause_check” action. Press the Stop button and you're done. Now, next time you use the isolating action, it will also run the isolation check in the end.

There's also the RESTORE SHADOW set. It's useful when you don't isolate on a pure white background but leave natural shadows. For some objects, restoring a shadow only takes a few seconds. After isolation, you just grab the History Brush, make its tip very soft, click under one of the object's corners, hold Shift, click under the other corner and that's it.

But some objects are not as easy, their bottom will not let you restore a shadow in a straight line. In cases like this one, the Restore_Shadow_current_HB action would be useful. Current HB means the current History Brush settings, so make sure you History Brush is soft and the tip has the right size. Instead of restoring the shadow manually, just make a crude selection where it should be located with the Marquee Tool or the Freehand Lasso, whichever is faster, and run the action. It will stroke the outline of the object with the History Brush, restoring the shadow, and that's pretty much all it does.

The manual isolation pack lets you isolate, check images and restore shadows – all pretty fast. Just don't expect any miracles – in catalogue retouching, our ability to replace the background with a white solid color depends on the original image quality, and greatly.

If the object really blends with the background, you'll have to use the Pen Tool.

But in most cases, we can use the Rectangular Marquee Tool and the Magic Wand and the isolating action to get a good result in under a minute.

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A detailed description of the contents:

Set 1: Isolate_manual

Action 1: Isolate_manual_alpha
Type: Script-based action
When to run: when you have selected the background with the Magic Wand in the image in need of isolation
Requires to run: a HIGH-RES image with an active selection of the background
What it does: it modifies the selection to make it smoother and to include small trash on the background left out of the initial selection. Then it saves the selection into an alpha channel and fills the background with white
Output: an image where the originally selected background is filled with white, plus an alpha channel
User intervention: the selection created by the user matters. Too much trash omitted, and the action will not be able to include it all
Possible alteration: none. I've described how to record an isolating action in the course, so if you want to twiddle with the settings, you should make your own actions. The scripts are encoded and cannot be modified.

Action 2: Isolate_manual_noalpha
Type: Script-based action
When to run: when you have selected the background with the Magic Wand in the image in need of isolation
Requires to run: a HIGH-RES image with an active selection of the background
What it does: it modifies the selection to make it smoother and to include small trash on the background left out of the initial selection. Then it fills the background with white
Output: an image where the originally selected background is filled with white
User intervention: the selection created by the user matters. Too much trash omitted, and the action will not be able to include it all
Possible alteration: none. I've described how to record an isolating action in the course, so if you want to twiddle with the setting, you should make your own actions. The scripts are encoded and cannot be modified.

Set 2: RESTORE SHADOW

Action: Restore_shadow_current_HB
Type: Action, semi-automatic
When to run: on an isolated image when you need to restore a natural shadow under the object
Requires to run: an active selection (rectangular or freehand) that shows the boundaries where the shadow should be restored. The history brush source should be set at the step before the background has been filled with white.
What it does: by excluding the background from the selection, the action strokes the outline of the object with the History brush (with current history brush parameters like size and hardness).
Output: an isolated image with a shadow restored
User intervention: none
Possible alteration: you can use a History Brush with some pre-recorded parameters by saving a brush preset and using it in the action right after the "Select the History Brush" step.

Set 3: Isolation_check

The “Levels_pause_check” action can be used after any of the isolating action has finished its work. You will immediately see how well it went. All the white in the image will be shown as white, and the rest will be black. After a short pause, the image will revert to the original on its own.

Action: Levels_pause_check
Type: Script, automatic
When to run: on an isolated image right after isolation
Requires to run: the "sleep_check.jsx" script present in the Scripts folder of the Photoshop directory
What it does: it makes the image fit the screen, then, by adjusting the Levels, it shows all the white pixels in the image as white, and the rest as black. After a short pause, the script reverts the image to its original state.
Output: no permanent changes to the image, just a temporary visual change
User intervention: none
Possible alteration: you can open the "sleep_check.jsx" script in any text editor and change the pause time if it's too short or too long for you. The $.sleep(300); means a 300 milliseconds long pause. You can change this number. You can also remove the Fit to screen command if you don't need it.

The script is open source, you can edit it by yourself. If the pause is too short, you can change is from 300 milliseconds to something else, like one second. However, if you want to edit the script, make sure you move it from the Photoshop Scripts folder. Last time I tried the ExtendScript Toolkit didn't let me save it as the contents of the folder are probably read-only. Copy the script somewhere else, edit and then put it back, overwriting the previous version.

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