A fun technique to apply to a favorite photo is to give it a new background. So you might, for example, take a photo of your family and place everyone at a popular tourist destination or perhaps a tropical beach. In this issue we will show you how to do this using Paint.net.
If you haven’t already installed Paint.net visit Issue 1 for instructions for downloading and installing this program.
Start by opening the family photo using File > Open. Target the Magic Wand tool and, from the Flood Mode options, select Contiguous. Adjust the Tolerance setting to 30%. Click on the background close to the people in the image. Paint.net will select an area of color similar to the area you clicked on.
Check that the selected area is the background only. If it includes part of a person, press Control + D and try again. If you cannot make a selection that does not also include part of a person, reduce the tolerance level and try again. When you get a satisfactory selection, press Delete on the keyboard to remove it.
Continue to do this to remove the background around the edges of the people. As you remove the background you will see a checkerboard pattern appear. Vary the Tolerance value as you work and use the Zoom tool to enlarge the image to see the edges clearly. Ignore the background where it is not close to the people.
To clean up stray areas of the background, use the Eraser tool. Make the size larger as you work on the background far away from the people. Make it smaller when removing the background close to the people. Use the Zoom tool to zoom in and out and the Hand tool to move the image. The best type of photo to use is one where there is a clear distinction between people and the background – this will make it easier to remove the background. Avoid any image where flyaway hair is mixed with the background as it will be difficult to remove the background and achieve a believable blend with the new image.
When you are done, open the background image you plan to use. Click the thumbnail in the top right corner to return to the family image. Choose Edit > Select All and then Edit > Copy. Click on the thumbnail for the background image and choose Edit > Paste into New Layer. If prompted, select Expand Canvas to increase the canvas size.
Target the Move Selected Pixels tool and drag on the family image to place it in the desired position over the background. To resize the family image, hold the Shift key and drag on one of the corner handles to resize it in proportion.
Finish off by cropping the image to make a pleasing composition. To do this, target the Rectangle Select tool and select over the area of the image to keep. Choose Image > Crop to Selection.
Save your finished image by choosing File > Save As and, from the Save as Type list choose JPEG (*.jpg;*.jpeg;*.jpe;*.jfif). Type a new name for the file, so you don’t overwrite the original, and click Save. Set the Quality to 100, click OK and select Flatten when prompted to do so. You can then print the photo if desired by choosing File > Print.