Showcase and discover digital art at yex

Follow Design Stacks

Subscribe to our free newsletter to get all our latest tutorials and articles delivered directly to your inbox!

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop part 3

The Extract Technique

As with the Background Eraser technique, it’s a smart idea to set the source for the History Brush early in the procedure, in case you need to do some touch-up later on.

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_22

Now, let’s run the Filter > Extract command. (In earlier versions of Photoshop, this was located under the Image menu.)

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_23

The Extract dialog box will appear. With the Brush tool selected, draw an outline around the object you wish to extract. The outline should overlap both the object and the background. Use a Brush size that is big enough for you to outline comfortably, but small enough to outline any details of the picture. (You may switch Brush sizes while you’re outlining.) The outline will be highlighted in the window.

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_24

If you need to zoom in while you’re outlining, hold down the Space Bar to change the cursor temporarily to the “hand” icon. You can then click and drag to move around in the picture. Let go of the Space Bar when you’re ready to go back to drawing.

When you’ve completed the outline, change to the Paint Bucket tool.

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_25

Fill the areas that you wish to “keep” with the paint bucket tool.

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_26

Click the Preview button to see how the object appears when extracted.

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_27

Here’s what my preview looks like. It’s good enough for my purposes, so I click “OK” to apply the Filter.

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_28

Again, I use the History Brush to restore parts of the object that were erased or partially erased.

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_29

And again, I use the Eraser Tool to get rid of stray pixels around the edges.

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_30

Here’s the final picture (with drop-shadow applied):

Background Masking Techniques in Photoshop_31

Extract Filter Technique:

  1. Set source for the History Brush in the History Palette.
  2. Use Filter > Extract command to outline, fill, and Extract object.
  3. Use the History Brush to restore parts of object (1:45 minutes).
  4. Use the Eraser Tool to clean up the edges (1:30 minutes).

My take: This method, while a little faster, didn’t seem much different from the Background Eraser technique. However, I have found that the Extract Filter works quite nicely when you have objects with a lot of fine details (like hair blowing in the wind, tree branches, etc.) that would be a pain to try to isolate. The Extract Filter works best with objects on solid-colored backgrounds.