How to extract an image from its background in Photoshop Elements

Today I thought I'd highlight some handy tips for extracting photos in Photoshop Elements. I try to make it easy on myself by selecting a photo with a fairly defined image to extract.

Please note, the magic extractor isn't available in PSE10 and newer.

Here's my starting point.


This one is not too easy as the carpet isn't that different in colour to the truck, so it will give us a little challenge.

1. Duplicate the layer and turn off the background layer, to avoid editing the original photo. Save your work! :)

2. I'll try the Magic Extractor - go to the Image Menu then click on Magic Extractor (Alt+Shift+Ctrl+V)

3. Trace the edge of the object (zoom in and out with Ctrl + & Ctrl - ) with the foreground (red) brush.


4. Click preview to see how things are progressing.

5. Then add the blue (background) areas to extract:


6. Keep clicking preview until you are fairly happy with the result - for a image with more contrast than our example it will work much better :) When you are ready, click OK to return to Photoshop.


7. Here's my rough extraction using the Magic Extractor:


8. Duplicate the original layer again so that you can work from that to tweak your extraction:


9. Ctrl+click on the extracted layer in the layers pallete to select the outline of the selection:


10. Then you can tweak the extraction using the quick selection tool - hold down Alt to removed the background or shift to add to the extracted foreground (or set up your tool to be in add to selection mode. See what I did here to fix the holes and the ends of the wood?



Much neater!

11. Now press Ctrl+J to duplicate the selection from the background, hide the original photo and voila! You can clean it up with the eraser tool.


12. Just add some paper to check it looks neat:


13. Then add a shadow:


Remember save your work regularly as you go along!

Here's my layers for you to see :)


Here's a couple of other tutorials you may like to check out about extractions

Have fun extracting!


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