Tip #435: Faster Still Image Rotoscoping

… for Visual Effects

Tip #435: Faster Still Image Rotoscoping

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The secret is to let Photoshop figure out where the edges are.

The girl was rotoscoped, then the color was removed from the background.

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Rotoscoping allows you to select a portion of an image by tracing the edges of the subject you want to isolate. The problem is that rotoscoping is really, really tricky; especially when hair or other soft edges get involved.

While this tip involves Photoshop, I’ve used it constantly to extract images for my video projects.

  • Open the image you want to rotoscope in Photoshop.
  • Convert the image to a layer; click the small lock icon on the right side of the layer.
  • Choose Select > Subject. (I don’t know when this feature showed up, but it’s magical.)

Photoshop makes its best guess and selects what it thinks is the subject. At which point, you can do whatever you want with it.


To create this screen shot:

  • Convert the image to a layer
  • Chose Select > Subject
  • Inverted the selection
  • Deleted the color from the selection

Took me 15 seconds. And, yes, I remember how hard this was in the past.

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