14 Replies Latest reply: Mar 12, 2012 1:27 PM by Noel Carboni RSS

    Paths and hair..

    MrLeif Community Member

      In a upcoming project I will be working with deep-etching of product photos, and have done some research on deep-etching and the use of paths.

      I feel I have a pretty good understanding of how to work with paths.

      However, is there a way of "perfecting" the work with paths to make it look good on products with "hairy" edges?

      Knitted fabric, fur, anything you can think of..

       

      It might be easier to get a "perfect" isolation with a mask layer, but one of the requirements is to deliver JPG's with a path included.

       

      The workflow I'm at for now is;

      1: start in illustrator, use live trace.

      2: copy the trace as a path from illustrator to photoshop

      3: do the neccessarry path-adjustments in photoshop

      (3a; get a wacom-board for better results in point 3)

      4: convert images to neccessary formats and deliver..

       

      Any tutorials on "the perfect path" out there that I've missed?

        • 1. Re: Paths and hair..
          c.pfaffenbichler Community Member

          However, is there a way of "perfecting" the work with paths to make it look good on products with "hairy" edges?

          In my opinion: No, Paths are simply a bad fit for clipping certain images/subjects.

           

          Depending on the image I do not see much benefit in involving Illustrator at all.

           

          You make no mention of it, so you may not intend to do it anyway, but please do not commit the … of supplying a Path and filling its outside with white.

          • 2. Re: Paths and hair..
            MrLeif Community Member

            Thanks for a quick reply.

             

            Actually, the white filling is one of the reasons I'm asking.

            While doing research for the best workflow, I've looked at some previous photos where the outside of the path is filled with white, and I wanted it to be better.

             

            About live tracing in Illustrator: It was the quickest way for me to get started. For many products it seemed pretty accurate, and gave me a good starting point for doing a good "finish" in photoshop.  I guess I have to check out more about tracing in photoshop also..

            • 3. Re: Paths and hair..
              c.pfaffenbichler Community Member

              While doing research for the best workflow, I've looked at some previous photos where the outside of the path is filled with white, and I wanted it to be better.

              Below example is not representative for photographs, but the principle applies:

              If a file with a Clipping Path is used in a layout program and a pdf created from there the edge pixels can »creep in«.

              clippingPathTest.jpg

               

              I’m not saying you should not use Illustrator, if you get good results there that’s what counts.

              • 4. Re: Paths and hair..
                MrLeif Community Member

                I see what you mean.
                I'm using Illustrator to get a quick start to the tracing process.

                With Illustrator i was able to get a decent path in a minute or so.

                Then I transferred the path to Photoshop, where the points now is easy to work with.

                Total time spent on a test photo is 1-2 minutes in Illustrator and +/- 10 minutes in Photoshop.

                I've been warned about "pixel creep" from others, and this will of course be an extra issue when I get to those hairy edges ..

                • 5. Re: Paths and hair..
                  Jeff_N Community Member

                  The Path Tool is a very usefill tool. But it's limitiation is that it makes a hard (sharp) cutout. You can make the path into a selection, and at that time specify as "feather" amount, but it feathers the entire selection. It's not practical to cut a path around hairy objects and expect to retain the "hairy" detail.

                  Another thought would be to use the Refine Edge / Mask tool (tho you didn't say what version of PS you are using), which does a good job on hairy objects, save the selection as a channel mask. Jpegs do support channel masks.

                  Just another thought.

                  • 6. Re: Paths and hair..
                    Gernot Hoffmann Community Member

                    A clean clipping path in a vector graphic doesn't cause artefacts.

                    Rasterizing, placed in Photoshop, doesn't cause artefacts either.

                     

                    The graphic below shows a CIE diagram, where the 'horseshoe'

                    was programmed by a clipping path. In order to detect possible

                    artefacts I've added a dark-gray square (almost black).

                    The EPS-file was rasterized by Photoshop in RGB with 300ppi,

                    anti-aliased and saved as png. Obviously there are no artefacts.

                    Similar results if rendered without anti-aliasing.

                     

                    Please show graphic by full size.

                     

                    But there is another important effect which may disturb:

                    The horseshoe contour is filled by let's say NxN small squares.

                    These would show in PDFs white edges because of interpolation

                    with respect to the assumed white background, which is actually

                    transparent. This well-known problem is overcome by drawing

                    in the first pass 17x17 large squares and then 100x100 small

                    squares.

                    The edge interpolation of small rectangles happens with respect

                    to the already drawn first pass, which has almost the correct

                    color. Therefore these artefacts are gone.

                     

                    In my experience plain PostScript is extraordinarily reliable,

                    concerning paths, strokes and fills.

                     

                    Best regards --Gernot Hoffmann

                     

                    Cliptest-CieSuper.png

                    • 7. Re: Paths and hair..
                      c.pfaffenbichler Community Member

                      A clean clipping path in a vector graphic doesn't cause artefacts.

                      Rasterizing placed in Photoshop, doesn't cause artefacts either.

                      Don’t know if your post is intended to refer to my comment on »pixel creep« – as far as I can tell it does not seem to have any bearing on the issue of eps with Clipping Paths and whitened-out-backgrounds in pdfs created by layout applications.

                      • 8. Re: Paths and hair..
                        Gernot Hoffmann Community Member

                        If a file with a Clipping Path is used in a layout program and a pdf

                        created from there the edge pixels can »creep in«.

                         

                        Not the clipping path is the problem. What you call 'pixel creep' can happen

                        in PDFs for all filled paths because of interpolation at edges, as described in

                        post #6.

                         

                        Best regards --Gernot Hoffmann

                        • 9. Re: Paths and hair..
                          c.pfaffenbichler Community Member

                          The Cliping Path is naturally not the problem – the problem can arise

                          • either because of interpolation

                          • or simply when people needlessly fill the area outside the Path with white – in the screenshot I posted the image was not downsampled in pdf-creation.

                           

                          Edit: Actually with photographic images the second case may only aggravate an existing problem.

                          Basically in some cases it might be recommendable to manually add a »bleed« if downsampling of an eps with Clipping Path is likely to happen downstream.

                          • 10. Re: Paths and hair..
                            Noel Carboni Community Member

                            MrLeif wrote:

                             

                            one of the requirements is to deliver JPG's with a path included.

                             

                            You are literally expected to provide a well-masked "hairy/fuzzy" subject using only paths?

                             

                            Along the lines of what Jeff has said above, has it occurred to you to question the requirement?

                             

                            The most direct example I can think of is cutting people out of backgrounds and putting them on alternate backgrounds, and there are some sophisticated tools in Photoshop, which generate pixel-based masks, to do the task.

                             

                            -Noel

                            • 11. Re: Paths and hair..
                              MrLeif Community Member

                              Noel: The hairy/fuzzy object is "worst case scenario" for the job. There will be different type of products; bottles (easy), gloves (more work), and then there will be some that is in the "a bit more challenging" category, wich may include "fuzzy objects" like e.g. a hairy collar (fake fur, wool and so on)..

                              (All images will have a one-colored background (mostly white) already.)

                              I'm looking for the best way to produce a good path for these type of objects.

                               

                              It seems that paths are not perfect, but for now this is the best I got,

                              I did not know that jpgs supported channel masks, and have to see if I can find out more about that.

                               

                              Yes, I have thought about questioning the requirement .

                              But for now, all I got is the requirement, and wanted to find out if there was a "magic trick" to paths that I did not know about ..

                               

                              As for the original question, I guess there is not a turotial on "the perfect path" that I've missed.

                              • 12. Re: Paths and hair..
                                MrLeif Community Member

                                Jeff: Channel masks in jpgs? I can't find anything about that. Do you have a link for more info?

                                • 13. Re: Paths and hair..
                                  Noel Carboni Community Member

                                  If you absolutely have to have a path, I suppose you could select the subject, use Refine Edge..., then turn the selection into a path with the little button at the bottom of the PATHS panel.

                                   

                                  Can you post an example (or part of one) illustrating what an example "fuzzy" or "hairy" object looks like?

                                   

                                  -Noel

                                  • 14. Re: Paths and hair..
                                    Noel Carboni Community Member

                                    FYI, I just tried that on a flower image...

                                     

                                    HairyPath.jpg

                                     

                                    -Noel