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Separating An Object From Its Background

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Daniel Piechnick

Member info

User since: 12 Oct 2002

Articles written: 1

I've seen people try to separate an image from its background by using the

Pencil tool, by playing with the Magic Wand, and even

by trying to draw an outline with the Lasso tool.

The main difficulty with trying to separate an image from its background

is that there are pixels which cover an area of the

picture which is partly foreground and partly background. With any of the

aforementioned methods, you have to declare whether a pixel is either

foreground or background, even though it may be both.

Believe it or not, there is a way that you can cut pixels in half. In

Photoshop, the way it works is that if you cut a pixel in

half, you'll have the same pixel, but it will be 50% transparent, so it

will be affected by what colour you put under it, just like the difference

between coloured paper and cellophane.

width="400" height="267">

Step 1: Select the Freeform Pen tool

(click and hold down on the fountain pen-shaped tool.)

width="400" height="267">

Step 2: Draw a rough outline around the object. Generally

err on the side of cutting into the image rather than leaving a


Use Ctrl+Click to manipulate the points, and drag their "arms"

around to change the curve. To insert a new point, just

click on the line.

When you've finished, right-click the line, and click Make Selection.

This turns your line into a selection.

width="400" height="267">

Step 3: Cut out your object and paste it into a new

layer. You can then replace your background layer with whatever you


I've put in this magenta (opposite of green) background to show up any

green bits that might still be stuck to our budgie.

Notice there are no jaggy edges, and there is no visible green outline.

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