The Extract Filter - Adobe Photoshop

You’re probably wondering if I really know my stuff. I mean, why go through all this pain if there is an extract filter that can just—BAM!—extract it. There is method to my madness. At least that’s what I tell my therapist.

The Extract filter rarely works as nicely as you need, and sometime one or more of the previous methods would actually be faster and cleaner.Nonetheless, this great filter has its own benefits, as you see through this tutorial. Plus, had I put this first, you may not have read the rest of this!

  1. Look at TropFlower.tga in Figure below.
  2. What is this, the Copacabana? You work with this file.

    A color selection selects the red easily, but the flower has yellow and brown protuberances and greenish yellow tips that are difficult to distinguish from the leafy background. The channels don’t give any other info and making paths around all those curves and jags just makes you sigh in resignation and paint the entire mask by hand.(Why do people always giggle when I use the word protuberances?)

  3. Create a duplicate of the background layer for the Extract filter to work on by pressing Command+J(Win: Ctrl+J).
  4. Go toFilter > Extract, which is displayed in Figure below.
  5. Filter > Extract takes you where you need to do the work on this image.

    A dialog box pops up with your image in its workspace. Figure below shows this.

    The dialog box is at the ready.

  6. Click the Edge Highlighter tool in the upper-left corner where the Extract’s toolbox is; trace the edges of the flower like you see in Figure below.
  7. The flower’s edges are traced, but it’s not perfection.

    You want to use the thinnest convenient mark, but don’t worry about being meticulous. Your marker should encompass the edge, which means the marker’s width should cover a bit of the flower and a bit of the nonflower areas

    I repeat: You don’t have to be meticulous. That is one of the filter’s benefits and the reason this is faster than, say, painting the mask yourself. For the protuberances, I simply increased the brush size using the right bracket hotkey (]) and encompassed the entire thing. See Figure below.

    You can use the zoom hotkeys or click Extract’s Zoom tool to get up close and see more detail.

    I didn’t want the entire stem to be included in the mask, so I cut it off where I wanted the mask to end. See Figure below

    I lopped off part of a stem.

  8. Make sure that your edge marker encompasses an entirely closed space
  9. Click the Extract’s Fill tool and fill the area that you want to define or keep by clicking the flower.
  10. Your flower should be covered with a blue film, like you see in Figure below. If the blue cover is both inside and outside of the flower’s outline, then you have a leak somewhere. Go in close and use the edge marker to paint in the gap, then try the fill again.

    I’ll spare you the “feeling blue” clichés.

  11. Click Preview and behold the power of the Extract filter in Figure below!
  12. The extraction has occurred.

  13. Take a close inspection for some of the details.
  14. Notice how the Extract filter not only got the protuberances, but also the ragged edge of the upperright flower.

  15. When you are satisfied with the result, click OK. See Figure below.

Take a close look at your work.

Behold the limitations of the Extract filter! All in all, it’s fairly clean and you need only use whatever method you like to clean up the little details(like the dark edge included on the lower-left flower).

It did a good job getting you started and this was an almost ideal scenario in which to use it. That’s kinda the advantage that I have in writing this: I get to choose what image I’m going to use. But you have to go in by hand to do the final touch up. To be fair, just about every matte requires some amount of hand clean up.

That’s right! We were creating a matte, weren’t we? And you’re wondering when this extracted image will become a matte? Let’s get on it!

  1. Erase anything you don’t like from the new layer.
  2. Create the matte by going to Select > Load Selection in the top menubar, as shown in Figure below.
  3. Getting closer to extraction perfection

  4. Scan the Load Selection dialog box to make sure it automatically chose your current layer’s transparency to form a new channel. Figure below shows what this should look like.
  5. Stick a fork in you. You’re nearly done.

  6. Click OK.
  7. Make sure that your background is visible and click the Quick Mask button.
  8. Using the Quick Mask methods from earlier, clean up any other edges or anything that was missed.
  9. When your selection is perfect, switch back to Normal mode and save the selection as a channel.
  10. Take a look at the channel and make sure the matte is clean.

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