The process was pretty simple, thanks to Photoshop CS5 and Refine Edge – and the fact that the lighting in the photo was pretty good and provided a nice separation from the backdrop, with no shadows.
Here’s the original photo (click for larger view).
I started with the Quick Selection tool and made a basic selection. It did a great job on her body and arms and was so-so around her hair (as I would expect). I used Refine Edge and only did 3 things: I painted with the Refine Radius tool, I changed the Shift Edge to -4% and I checked Decontaminate Colors.
This was the result (shown on a black background in Refine Edge)
Here’s Stevie with the new background dropped behind her. It’s still a little noticeable around her hair…
So I added a blank layer on top and used the Brush tool with Fade set to 90 (I experimented with different values to get the fade out effect that I wanted). Then I painted a series of new hairs, each time pressing Option (PC: Alt) before painting to sample the color of her hair. The Fade setting helps it look more natural.
Here’s what just the “new hair” layer looks like.
Total time? Approximately 15 – 20 minutes (including taking screen captures).
Let’s not overlook the importance of having some good separation between the subject and the background – if she had been standing in front of a busy background of trees, it would not have been anywhere near this quick or simple.