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Photoshop - Extracting Backgrounds Quickly & Easily  [RSS] Share on facebook Share on Twitter Submit to Reddit
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Made in us
Scarred Ultramarine Tyrannic War Veteran

OK, a few people have asked me in a different thread "what is?" and "how do you use?" the Extraction Tool in Adobe Photoshop.

The Extraction Tool in Adobe Photoshop is a powerfull tool that allow you to 'extract' a part of the image. Most comonly it's used for pulling out the primary object(s) from an image / removing the background.

Here's how it works...

Click Filter > Extract

This will bring up the Extract window. In here you will use the tools on the left in combination with the perameters on the right to tell Photoshop what part of the image you want to keep

Use the Edge Highlighter Tool on the left to highlight the edges of the section you wish to pull out of the image. You can define your Brush Size on the right. Adjusting the brush size helps Photoshop to better determine the 'edge' of what you want to keep. I like to turn on the Smart Highlighting feature as this makes it easier to highlight the edge and keeps the brush from straying if your hand isn't steady. Once finished it should look something like this...

Next use the Fill Tool to fill in the area you wish to keep. This again is telling Photoshop which part / side of that green highlighting you wish to keep. Make sure the green highlighting is completely closed or else the whole image will get filled.

Now click Preview. This will give you a preview of what the image will look like. You can use some of the tools on the left to clean up the image or use the Clean Up Tool while holding down the Alt. key to bring back something that was mistakenly cut out.

Once you're happy with the image click OK. This will take the extracted image and put it back into the main Photoshop window for further editing.

Now all that's left is putting in the background you want. Here's a quick example.

That's all there is to it. Enjoy!

Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut

London UK

Awesome Tutorial!
I can see this forum becoming the new hotness!


Made in us
Deadshot Weapon Moderati

Excellent. I am off to give this a shot. Will report back after I have tried it out. Thanks!!!!

Made in us
Never-Miss Nightwing Pilot

Nice tutorial. It's vastly different than the way I do it, but it certainly seems to work well enough. I suppose there are situations where this may be handier than my method.

Made in us
Deadshot Weapon Moderati

Well I am back. I used to use this method along time ago. I forgot the name as I rarely used it. It is quite a bit more time consuming then the methods I use now. However it is more precise and you can achieve much cleaner edges this way. I would say that if you want a clean image and need to be exact this is a great method. If you are doing something quick there are faster ways. This would be the best but not if speed is needed. Thanks Oni. Great tutorial!!!

One word of advise to anyone using this tool. Be careful of the clean edges option in the extract window. It can clean too much and your pic will have gaps in it. I would think this option will need to be played with before you spend a ton of time on a pic and this option messes it up with out proper use.

Made in ca
Avatar of the Bloody-Handed God


I think my photoshop is too old, it doesnt have any of the function shown in his pic >.>

           ◂◂  ►  ▐ ▌  ◼  ▸▸
          ʳʷ   ᵖˡᵃʸ  ᵖᵃᵘˢᵉ  ˢᵗᵒᵖ   ᶠᶠ 
Made in ca
Screaming Shining Spear

Nova Scotia

You may need to download the plugin (ie if you have CS4)
Made in us
Scarred Ultramarine Tyrannic War Veteran

anticitizen013 wrote:You may need to download the plugin (ie if you have CS4)

This feature first appeared in Photoshop 5.5

Unless you have a version that predates 5.5 you will have this feature.
Made in ca
Screaming Shining Spear

Nova Scotia

They removed it in CS4 (maybe earlier, I don't know). I had to download the addon. Behold: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Photoshop/11.0/WSCAC4D084-6AB1-483a-B264-6336B4888649.html
Made in us
Scarred Ultramarine Tyrannic War Veteran

anticitizen013 wrote:They removed it in CS4 (maybe earlier, I don't know). I had to download the addon. Behold: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Photoshop/11.0/WSCAC4D084-6AB1-483a-B264-6336B4888649.html

You're right... That is SOoo lame!
Made in ca
Avatar of the Bloody-Handed God


Hmm it says photoshop 6.0 ( probably reallllllly old)
what does CS (4) mean?

           ◂◂  ►  ▐ ▌  ◼  ▸▸
          ʳʷ   ᵖˡᵃʸ  ᵖᵃᵘˢᵉ  ˢᵗᵒᵖ   ᶠᶠ 
Made in ca
Screaming Shining Spear

Nova Scotia

It's the latest and greatest version of Photoshop. Many shiny features!

...and it looks pretty too!
Made in us
Nasty Nob on Warbike with Klaw

St. Louis, MO

Wow. This is an incredible tutorial.
Very nicely done and presented with simplicity... THOSE are hallmarks of great walk-throughs.

Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.


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Made in ca
Long-Range Ultramarine Land Speeder Pilot

Portsmouth, UK

I think CS4 counts as Photoshop 10 or maybe even 11 (by the old way of counting)

The CS stands for Creative Suite as a whole bunch of Adobe products now have the CS tag.


Made in us
!!Goffik Rocker!!


The extract tool is primarily designed for pulling things out of a background where selection is difficult at best. Situations like pulling the background out of a field of flowers or grass.

Using extract is going to give you some issues with feathered edges and unwanted transparency when you have a solid or gradient background like in the OPs pick. Your mileage may vary though, it's not my favorite method, it does have a few flaws inherent. It is certainly one of the quickest ways to do the job though.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2009/04/20 07:05:35


Do you remember that time that thing happened?
This is a bad thread and you should all feel bad 
Made in my
Hooded Inquisitorial Interrogator

hurr hurr i hav fownd flaw. the boulter strap inside is stil grey not cleer.

i want to play and ride with you on your predator. i want to be friends with you
too bad alien scum
arrrghhhhhhhhh *cuts off head of space marine*
dat was fun friend....friend??? friend!!!!
humph your not my friend any more *walks off to the predator* now for some fun!

i play as and needs the new sm army codex!!!!! 
Made in dk
Fresh-Faced New User

I have a small request is it possible that someone could re-upload the pictures they are no longer available.
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