Photoshop Tutorial: How To Mask A Tree In 3 Minutes



The easy way to mask a tree. As a bonus, we'll also add a new background.

This is really easy, but hardly anyone knows how to do this quick. I'll let you in on a Photoshop secret ;)


End result:
How To Mask A Tree In 3 Minutes Final Image

Author:
avatar robvdn

Views: 147524
Score: 9.12 / 10
Author earned: $20
Practice tutorial

Tags:maskingtree

Step 1

A lot of people have problems with masking trees. All those leaves are a lot of work, they think.
I promise you I can show you how to do this in just 3 minutes and put a new background behind it along the way!

First we need 2 sources:
For the tree we use: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1184924
and as a new background: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1211288

Open up Photoshop and resize both images to the same width, we'll start working on the tree image.


Step 2

We'll be using a tool which is hardly ever used: the "Background Eraser Tool".


Step 3

On top you're able to change some settings:
1. take a nice big soft brush, I used one with a 2013 diameter
2. set the sampling to contigious
3. set limits to discontigious
4. the tolerance high: 40 (we can do this because the blue background behind the tree has a nice contrast with the green tree, if the contrast isn't that high you must set the tolerance lower)
5. check the Protect Foreground Color box
6. we've checked the Protect Foreground Color box so we must select a foreground color; click on the foreground color > the color Picker menu will open > now use the color picker to select an average green in the tree. This will protect this color and it will not be erased later on.


Step 4

Now the funpart starts.
Because we use a big brush you'll probably just see the cross in the centre of that brush, that's OK because that's just what we need. Start clicking on the blue and you'll see all the blue disappear, do this also on the other colors which are left (some whites and other light colors.

Check between the leaves for some left over spots of blue and remove them the same way.

You'll be left with just the tree and the grass. To show you below there's twice the same tree, once a black background and once a white background.

If you just wanted to mask the tree: CONGRATS, YOU ARE DONE!

I'll add a new background to this as well, as a bonus ;)


Step 5

Add the sky as a new layer below the tree.

If you look closely you'll there's still some white lines surrounding the leaves. That's why I'll show you as well on how to remove those.


Step 6

In the layers pallette: select the layer with the tree and right click on it. A new menu will open and select "Blending Options" on top. This will open a new window.
All we are going to do is set the "Blend Mode" to "Darken Color" and click "OK"


Step 7

There's some rubbish coming through the grass, just select your layer with the sky and gently erase them.


Step 8

Now all you have to do is finetuning your image, use a smal soft blur brush and blur the edge of the grass and new sky (be sure you have checked the "Sample All Layers" box on top) and so on.

That wasn't that hard, was it?



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93 Comments:

avatar xtro
xtro says:

you're a genius!

(5 years and 41 days ago)
avatar ponti55
ponti55 says:

Great tutorial!!

(5 years and 40 days ago)
avatar lchappell
lchappell says:

(5 years and 40 days ago)
avatar Tuckinator

prtty good tut

(5 years and 40 days ago)
avatar nishagandhi

great tutorial in which version do u have "darken color" option?? i think i dont have that option since i have photoshop cs2

(5 years and 39 days ago)
avatar robvdn
robvdn says:

I'm sorry Nisha, I'm using CS3 and CS4 and both have that option; never realised CS2 doesn't, but that part is just an extra and has no influence on the real goal of the tutorial: the masking of the tree itself

(5 years and 39 days ago)
avatar Akassa
Akassa says:

Oh this is really helpful, thanks rob i always have some trouble with trees lol

(5 years and 39 days ago)
avatar nishagandhi

Anyway its a great tutorial Rob i have tried masking trees before but i dont get to mask properly ....so i dont use trees in my images LOL hopefully now i am sure that i will be able to mask trees...GREAT TUTORIAL

(5 years and 37 days ago)
avatar RichieMB
RichieMB says:

Great job.

(5 years and 36 days ago)
no avatar
rikigoft says:

Thanks...great tut

(5 years and 35 days ago)
no avatar

I was gonna say you have no idea how much time this saves and how many more options are available now because of it...but obviously you do!!! Thank you SO much! Love the steps, the clarity, the arrows, very well written and great example!!!

(5 years and 35 days ago)
avatar momvera
momvera says:

This is great! I have to try it.

(5 years and 35 days ago)
avatar IDt8r
IDt8r says:

Nah, I sez to myself. It can't be that easy. So I tried it. Then I found a different tree and tried it again. Then I found a drippy willow tree with little tiny leaves and tried it again. It really is just that easy. Thank you so much for this time saving, frustration saving tutorial. You and it are wonderful.

(5 years and 35 days ago)
avatar freejay
freejay says:

Handy tut and well explained....good job

(5 years and 34 days ago)
avatar ladybug
ladybug says:

thank you so much! this is incredibly helpful!

(5 years and 34 days ago)
avatar billyboy
billyboy says:

After such a tutorial I shall quit 3D and go back to Photoshop, LOL. Royal !

(5 years and 34 days ago)
no avatar

I'm new at this and i found rlly easy and quick..

thank you for this gr8 tut...

(5 years and 27 days ago)
no avatar

I'm new at this and i found rlly easy and quick..

thank you for this gr8 tut...

(5 years and 27 days ago)
avatar Jeantz080807

Simple but High quality

(5 years and 26 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Well done tut. Thanks!

(5 years and 25 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

This is amazing

(5 years and 23 days ago)
avatar wildwings
wildwings says:

This is not only brilliant but beautifully explained. Many thanks!

(5 years and 22 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

how the hell to i change the background

(5 years and 21 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

thanks....=)

(5 years and 19 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

expert!!!!!!!!!!

(5 years and 19 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

thanx ......ur amazing

(5 years and 17 days ago)
avatar pingenvy
pingenvy says:

Mine worked better without going to the darken mode, but this tutorial will still be one of the most useful for long-term application that I've come across. Oh, and I had never used the erase background tool before. Nice job!

(5 years and 14 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

This saved me so many hours.
THANK YOU!!!!

(5 years and 14 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Wow!

VERY impressed! Thanks for the arty! (:

(5 years and 14 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

i realy appretiating ur steps . give more information about photoshop for us...

(5 years and 13 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Great. Can this also work with hair? I'd love to crop portraits and paste onto diff backgrounds but the hair is always difficult.

(5 years and 13 days ago)
avatar robvdn
robvdn says:

@Guest: In theory it should be working with hair too, just play with the tolerancelevel and maybe a smaller brush.

Thank you all for the really nice comments!

(5 years and 13 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

wov. Nice tutorial. U are great robvdn

(5 years and 13 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

great it is just what I wanted. Thank for your share !

(5 years and 12 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Excellent tutorial, mate! Thanks for sharing it.

(5 years and 9 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

awsome thanks alot

(5 years and 9 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Es un gran trabajo

(5 years and 9 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Thank you sooooo much. Time saver woo hoo!

(5 years and 8 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Step 8
(be sure you have checked the "Sample All Layers" box on top)
??? where is that Sample all layers option?

(4 years and 364 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

@up: its next to blending mode and strenght, its a checkbox.


really nice tutorial, awesome trick cheers!!!!

(4 years and 358 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

interesting but oddly in CS4 with me using th esame settings as you describe it does not work and I still had to click on each and every individual piece of blue in the tree and then later on, when adding the background, it appeared that in the sky, some part sof blue were only parttly removed (i.e. made somewhat translucent). What actually worked much faster was to go to 'Select' and use "Color Range" and then with the +sampler click on a few pieces of blue and white. Click OK and delete or mask everything that is selected--> done

(4 years and 357 days ago)
avatar JurgenDoe
JurgenDoe says:

Excellent and fabulous tutorial *clap*

(4 years and 356 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

damn, that's a nice tut

(4 years and 355 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Really great tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

(4 years and 346 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

This is very useful and informative. Thanks.

Regards,
photoshop masking
http://www.sblgraphics.com/photo-masking_service.aspx

(4 years and 346 days ago)
avatar divair
divair says:

Man, I've never used the erase background tool! Very useful tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

(4 years and 332 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Thanks a lot, There are options we never use. Even if we needed many times in the past. Sorry with my poor english.

Thanks again

(4 years and 330 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

pls i dont get it right can some one teach me how better to do it !!!!helP helP SOS

(4 years and 328 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Cool and fantastic!!! Thanks a lot for your tutorial.

(4 years and 327 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

calculations...source 1 green, source2 blue, check invert. blend mode subtract gives you a perfect mask to select.

(4 years and 324 days ago)
avatar erathion
erathion says:

Great tutorial,helps a lot....

(4 years and 322 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

great

(4 years and 278 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

great

(4 years and 278 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

super... tutorial
நல்லா இருக்கு...

(4 years and 273 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Super.....

(4 years and 254 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Trees Are pretty
Go Green

(4 years and 240 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

nice job, one the better tuts ive seen.....ive seen alot

(4 years and 239 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

This works great on lightning

(4 years and 236 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Wow! Just stumbled on this site and this looked like an interesting tute to check out. I'm amazed at how easy it makes the task. I'm sure this same technique can be used in other applications such as masking hair from a blue/green screen shot.

(4 years and 203 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

very nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
MD HANZALA

(4 years and 201 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

I'm new to photoshope and not famliar with much, but how did you blend the two pics?I'm stuck at step 5. Thanks

(4 years and 189 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

can anyone help me with step 7? I cant figure out how to clear up the bottom? Thanks

(4 years and 189 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

in CS4 i used exatly the settings as described, still there is a LOT of the old background left on my tree and at step 6 , when using blending mode "Darker color" about half my tree goes away and the new background totally takes over + at step 8 there are no checkbox for "Sample All Layers" beside the blending mode, any ideas what im doing wrong ?

(4 years and 186 days ago)
avatar hereisanoop

Thanks for sharing....

(4 years and 178 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

This was AMAZING! Nice and easy. Saved me about 2 hours of cleanup.

(4 years and 152 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Brilliant tutorial - thank you!

(4 years and 98 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

thx dude!

(4 years and 85 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Good work

(4 years and 55 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

What fun that was XD thx so much it came lovely

(4 years and 52 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Thank u sir. i got how cut tree very easy..Thank u very much...Thank u..

(4 years and 43 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

This is really helpful, thanks rob i always have some trouble with trees lol. Thank u very much thank a lot, thanks.....thanks....... and again thanks. rajeev

(4 years and 28 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

u r genius

(3 years and 336 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

wow, how can not i think that?

(3 years and 330 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

Wow. Something I was trying to do for a hour done in 5 mins! Thanks!

(3 years and 318 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

will this work with photoshop elements 7

(3 years and 292 days ago)
avatar AdhirAnimator

Wow, I wasn't aware of this feature thanks for sharing.

This will surely reduce lots of time

(3 years and 290 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Also works in Paint shop Pro

(3 years and 272 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

really, U R A BOSS. tHaNkS a LoT.............

(3 years and 256 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

O thxz sweetheART you are a diamond ;~} Valz

(3 years and 224 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

The masking come out very nice!!

(3 years and 188 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

fantastic work.thank you....................

(3 years and 178 days ago)
no avatar
uday says:

thanks a lot dude... was searching for dis frm a long time... finlly got it..

(3 years and 168 days ago)
no avatar
Mike says:

Great tutorial thanks!

(2 years and 165 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

im using ubuntu. so i work on gimp - trying to figure out an equivalent order of commands for this - any help anyone?

(2 years and 73 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Thank u for sharing

(2 years and 61 days ago)
no avatar
paul says:

thank you very much!

(2 years and 58 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

Thanks for this great tut... very easy and helpful

(2 years and 26 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

Good Shit, Dawggie Amazing Tutorial.

(1 year and 304 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

You sir, just made my day! ;-{)

(1 year and 224 days ago)
no avatar
shane says:

Totally Kick ASs Nice TUTORIAL

(1 year and 212 days ago)
avatar friiskiwi
friiskiwi says:

well done tutorial

(1 year and 191 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

Imressive!
Thanks!

(1 year and 64 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

The result doesn't withstand close scrutiny.

(1 year and 53 days ago)


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