Photoshop extract images

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plejon

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Jul 26, 2001
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Can anyone offer some good tips to extract pictures from a background ?

When I use the extract tool, I always with ragged edges, especially is contrast is not perfect. Same with the magic wand.

I often have to extract pictures of bikes, which is especially tricky around the spokes. A photographer I sometimes work with can extract the wheels and spokes almost perfectly. My end result is always messy. Unfortunately, he doesn't want to tell me how he does it. (Logical, it's how he makes his money)

So, any particular tricks for a perfect extraction ? Third party tool maybe ?
 
Joined
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Are you aware that holding the shift key adds to any selection you already have and the Alt subtracts? Using that you can combine various methods.

If the background is solid behind the spokes I would probably start with Select>Color range and select the background between the spokes. Mess with the slider until you have the best selection and then Select>Inverse. Go to the Magic Wand and set a lower tolerance. Hold the Shift key while you add parts that were missed and hold the Alt key to remove stuff that was selected you don’t want.

You can also use the Shift and Alt with the Magnetic Lasso etc. Make a circle inside the selection when you add and outside when you subtract.

When you have the bike selected go to Quick Mask – below the color selection in the toolbox. Select a hard paint brush. When you paint in black you subtract from the selection and when you paint in white you add to it. It is best to work in high magnification.

Go Select>Feather and experiment with the number of pixels – the higher the resolution of the image the more pixels you want to feather. I would guess between 3 and 7 pixels. Sometimes if the background is highly contrasty it is best to not feather.

There isn’t a magic button you can push. I haven’t had much luck with “Extract”. It is useful for some things but a difficult selection usually works best for me with multiple selection tools followed by the quick mask. Just Select>Inverse and hit the “Delete” key when you have the bike fully selected.

There isn’t a program I know of that makes selections easier than Photoshop. The tool that really helps is a tablet. There are some inexpensive ones that are adequate. You get what you pay for of course.
 

plejon

Thread Starter
Joined
Jul 26, 2001
Messages
671
Thanks guys, I'll give your suggestions a try. I didn't know about the mask mode, sounds promising.

I did find something else interesting yesterday: the "cleanup" and "edge touchup" tools in the extract utility. Somehow, I had never used them before, probably because you have to go into preview first. Sure beats erasing in a normal picture.

Oh and by the way, I do have a tablet, small Wacom penpartner, but it is very helpful for this kind of work.
 
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