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Monday, June 14, 2010

Extracting Images

It was brought to my attention that the Extract Filter is an extra goodie for CS4 and a quick Google search suggests that Adobe may no longer be supporting the Extract Filter.  So, I decided to see how fast it would be to remove the background from an image using the Quick Selection Tool.

1.  Open you image in Photoshop.  I am using an image of one of my orchids to make it challenging as a flower in the background is blending into the part of the image that I want to extract.

Dtps. Fire-Cracker 'Malibu'

2. Choose the Quick Selection Tool.

3.  Set your brush size and make sure that Add to Selection (the wand with the + sign) is chosen.

4.  Start selecting on your image by brushing over the area that you want to keep.  The Quick Selection Tool will automatically detect edges and add similar areas to the selection.  Here is my first selection.

5.  After selection is complete, it is possible to see that in some areas, too much of the flower was selected.  In others, too little was selected.

Therefore, I reduced the size of my brush used it to pick up the small parts of the flower that were not chosen earlier.  Then, I chose Subtract from Selection (wand with - sign) and removed unwanted bits from the image.

6.  Choose Refine Edge to open up the Refine Edge options.

7.  Adjust the options to remove any "jaggies" and smooth out the selection.  I increased the contrast to 56%  and used the default values for all the other options.  Your choices will depend on your image.  Make sure that Preview is checked and then I chose to preview "On White" to see how my image would look.  This is the second preview option from the right.  Click OK when you are happy.

8.  If the image is not a layer, then turn it into one (Layer > New > Layer From Background).

9.  Invert the selection (Shift + Ctrl + I).

10.  Press the delete key to remove the background.

In conclusion, I think this method is a lot easier and faster than using the Extract Filter.  The Quick Selection Tool was not added until CS3 so this method for removing the background will not work in CS2 or below.  This method was tested in CS4.

Click on the image to see a larger version.  You may save my extracted Dtps. Fire-Cracker 'Malibu' and use it.


  1. Hi Spencer
    Thank you so much for writing this tut, it has been very helpful to a beginner in PS
    Hugs Shazie

  2. I just wanted you to know that I absolutely sooo appreciate this tut! I am new to Photoshop but have been using PSP for years and I still can't tube with it! This tut is wonderful and in the last 20 minutes I have just tubed 13 of my flowers from my garden!! Hopefully it will be just as easy to cut around hair and such!! Thanks so much!!