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Our customers like isolated stock photos illustrations and images, it saves them time, and makes your Stock Art more flexible. There are a number of ways to isolate your subject. You can isolate with color, light, or post editing. Let's start with the easiest way.

Isolation, Fast and Easy!

Isolation can be easy, so stop pushing against an invisible wall. This woman pushing on this paragraph was only very lightly edited in post. Shoot, import, crop, color correction, upload! Isolate the easy way- with lights. Spending hours isolating in post can and will suck the life from you. Isolation with lights can save you hours, weeks, and maybe decades in the long run. Of course, you can achieve the same result in a number of different ways. Here is the simple studio setup!

What you'll need is four strobe lights all equipped with soft diffusers and receivers. Two barn doors, to shadow your subject from the knockout light. The barn doors need to be as tall and wide as your subject. A roll of white paper for the background and a capable camera.

Ignore the distances, and percentages in the diagram. Your studio setup will be different, this is intended to give you an idea of the setup. With a little experimentation you will never have to pick-up a path again. ; )

What types of files

Oh snap, don't forget how to isolate using software just yet. Isolating with lights won't take advantage of the .PNG format. Depending on the subject, you may want to spend the time to remove the background with Photoshop, or the like, so you can sell the photo with that sweet checkered background.

Isolation with Adobe Photoshop

We use .PNG here at Solid Stock Art for a few reasons, but the biggest is it's ability to handle true transparency. Each file you isolate saves your customer's time. A huge reason to buy here versus other sites. Be sure to take advantage and upload as many transparent files as possible. We'll be using Adobe Photoshop for this tutorial.

Start with a photo that was taken with isolation in mind. Clipping, say a golf ball out of it's natural setting at the golf course, you'll spend more time removing reflections. The edges will have tones of green. Etc... This one was taken on a white background with a continuous light with the intention of being clipped out in post. The background is not 100% white and will need to be removed.

Paths FTW!(for the win)
Do not use any other tool besides the pen to create your selections. You'll end up spending more time using tools like the magic wand, lasso, or color selections. These tools create rough edges no matter how skilled you think you are. Plus, if you upload elsewhere you'll want to save a clipping path so customers on other sites can take advantage of your work.

Creating paths using the pen tool can be hard at first, but in the end it takes less time. A good tip is to zoom in, like 400%. Go slow, crank some tunes. Another helpful tid bit is to use Option (PC Alt) and click back on the path you just set to "pick-up Path", and remove one handle bar allowing your next set point to not be effected by the last curve.

After you've gone around the edges of your subject with the pen tool, click on the path's pallet options. Click "Save Path". Give your path the name "Clipping Path"

Next click the same Option button on the path pallet with your path still selected and choose "Clipping Path..."

Give your "Flatness" a value of 0.2 and click OK. Why did you need to do all that clipping path stuff? We want to be part of your workflow, not your only workflow. We did all this so when you save this file as a .jpg to upload on another stock site you have the clipping path saved. Aren't we awesome?!!!

Now create your selection from your clipping path. Command (PC Ctrl) Click on your clipping path.

Voila! You have your marching ants.

It's time to feather the edges just a bit. Almost all edges in a photo will need to have some degree of feathering. Let's start with .2 pixels. This is the smallest amount we can apply.

Copy and paste from your background layer, to a new layer. I created a new layer between the two and filled it white so you can see the results. Looking good however in real life you have something called field of depth. Not all edges are hard. Pay attention, this is where our tutorial gets a bit better than most where clipping is concerned.

Go back to your path's pallet and Command (PC Ctrl) Click on your path again to get another selection. Go to your layers pallet and select your background layer again.

With your path still marching along, go back up to selection, feather, and this time add two pixels. This will give us a MUCH softer edge. Copy and paste from your background layer into a new layer. You now have another copy of the ribbon, but much softer. I've named my layers "Hard" and "Soft" just to remind me later, if need be.

Now we want to paint out the hard edge where our photo was soft, due to the field of depth. To do this add a layer mask to the "Hard" layer.

You can see that I have soft edges where I've painted black on my mask, and hard edges where I've left the "Hard" layer visible.

The Checkered Finish! Now hide the "background" layer you've filled with white to reveal Photoshop's checkered background. You're finished! Save as PNG-24 and upload it!

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