Tutorial – Green Screen Removal

I never thought the day would come where I would be teaching someone how to do something in photoshop.  I am not a master in the program, certainly no where near as good as the bloggers I admire for their mad skills; like Daeberethwen or Strawberry. But I get by with the knowledge I have……and some slight nagging of the husband to teach me a new thing here and there; Love you Vin *kisses*.

However I made a plurk a little while ago about playing around with blog photos and pile up pics and interest was shown in how I got my green screen removed from around the tiny strands of hair so nicely.  I gave an impromptu lesson in the plurk but I decided to put it out in full here to make it easier to follow and with a bit more in depth wording than what a small plurk post allows.

So let’s start with the before shot.  The image I am choosing to work on today has lots of whispy bits of hair.  When you take your picture in Second Life make sure that the prim behind you is coloured with the bright neon green colour choice and has full bright turned on.  If you don’t have full bright turned on the dull green is harder to remove in PS and can sometimes result in part of your scene/avatar being removed when you erase it (it becomes semi transparent).

*Before I start – I didn’t bombard flickr with all these pictures but if you want to see them full size, just right click and open in another tab/window*

Green screen

First step:

In your two colour selection boxes on the bottom left, choose black for the top colour (as far black in the bottom left corner as you can when you open the colour selection box: RGB 0 0 0).  The secondary colour (underneath the black) use your colour picker; so click the bottom box to select the colour and when you hover over your picture you have the eyedropper symbol.  Click in the green area to select that colour green. Next select the background eraser tool.  Along the top menu select the eye dropper that says ‘Sampler: background swatch’, choose ‘discontiguous’ in the limits drop down box, set your ‘Tolerance’ to 100% and check ‘Protect foreground colour’.


Step two:

Using your background eraser, click on your green screen area and swipe away.  Don’t be afraid to swipe over the top of your scene / avatar.  Only the green will disappear and leave you with a picture like this.


Step three:

You might be thinking OMG I’M FINISHED JUST LIKE THAT!!!!! but you may want to look a little closer.  Sometimes if there are green accents in you scene / avatar they can get erased when you take away the green screen.  The below image shows: green arrow pointing to the before green screen removed image and white arrow pointing to after removal.  The green grassy areas are now dulled and not so much green.  So if you are wearing hints of green, zoom in close and see if they need touching up.  If there is no green touching up to do, continue to step 5.  If you need to touch up green areas, continue to step 4.


Step four:

The way I fix this; well for starters I try not to use green in things where I have to take out a green screen but sometimes this can’t be helped so what I do is: In the bottom left hand corner click on the folded note paper symbol to insert a new layer.  You’ll find your new layer is above your current picture in the layers list so just grab the new layer and drag it beneath the picture layer to move it.  Now over to your colour selection boxes, click the little arch with arrows to swap the location of your colours.  Now the green is on top and the black is underneath.  Choose a paint brush and size it big enough to colour in UNDERNEATH the image that needs fixing.  Then just colour the parts that need ‘re-greening’. You can see in my picture that my green spot on that second layer is quite small and is just in the area where the pot plant is.  My grass also now looks green again.  To make it easier to keep going forward, and have just one image layer, left click your top picture in the layers list, press shift and left click the other layer you just added so both are highlighted.  Now press CTRL and E on your keyboard to merge the layers.


Step five:

The fun part….the haiiirrrrrrrr!!!  It may look fine from a zoomed out perspective.  But lets say you want to add a pretty background behind your picture.  You may find that those whispy strands on the end have a weird green highlight to them. Easy way to check this is to add another layer and move it underneath again (see previous step for how to do this if you missed it), now swap your colours back to black on top and green underneath, click on the bucket fill tool, make sure your underneath layer is selected (highlighted once you click it) and click with the bucket on your picture to fill the background with black (I find black helps me see where green may have stuck to things, feel free to try other colours). Now if you look at the hair you can see green tinges in the semi transparent whispy bits.


Step six:

Here is the easy fix to removing the green tinges:  Select your alpha picture layer then add a new layer again, leave it above your photo this time.  Now select the new layer you just added and from the drop down menu choose ‘color’.  Right click on your new layer and select ‘create clipping mask’ and you’ll see it now looks indented with an arrow pointing to your picture beneath it.  Now choose your paintbrush and hover it over the hair right next to the green areas.  If you press ALT your paintbrush turns into an eyedropper (colour selecting tool).  Choose a colour that best matches as close to the green area as you can.  This will be the colour you want your hair to be – not green.  You can see I already did part of this, my top colour (the one I will be painting with) changed to brown.  Now you just want to colour over the green hair bits.  I did half of my hair so you can see the difference.  Purple arrows are pointing to the brown covered pieces and green arrows to the parts I have not coloured yet.

*note:  sometimes hair does not keep the green tinge.  I have been lucky more times that I can count where my hair has not done it.  In that case you can just skip this step entirely.  Sometimes you need to play around with the colours.  You might colour pick a colour too light or too dark.  It’s just trial and error.  If you are wearing multi coloured hair just keep picking a new colour as you go, all on the one layer.


Step seven:

Once you have coloured all the bits that need touching up, select your top clipping layer and your picture layer and press CTRL and E to merge them again.  Now you can put in your favourite background and not have any ghastly green halo or tinges, and you are ready to play around all your layering fun and edits and make a picture to be proud of.


I hope this helps and that I’ve explained things easy enough for all to understand.  😀



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