Best way to select out image?

Discussion in 'Photoshop Tutorials' started by Darren, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. Darren

    Darren Guest

    I have this image of a painted lizard on a leaf, and I want to remove the
    leaf, leaving just the lizard. I've been using a combination of the magic
    wand with the eraser, but the fine tuning with the eraser is taking forever!
    There has to be a better way to make selections like these. Any advice on
    how to do it?

    The image can be found here:

    Darren, Apr 19, 2005
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  2. Nice illustration. Yours?

    Well, as far as knocking out the leaf background, I don't think there's much
    else you can do besides what you're already doing. The problem is that the
    image has a lot of blending, and little in the way of contrasted elements.
    You could try using splines to isolate the portion of the lizard you want,
    instead of the eraser tool, but either way, you'll likely be at your
    computer for a while. :)

    In such cases, if you're doing this job for a client, you have to take into
    account things like "will there be enough time for this (ie: deadlines)?",
    and "will what I'm going to be paid be worth my trouble?"

    Of course, I'm using an older version of Photoshop (version 4.01), so newer
    versions might have some features I'm not aware of that could help you out.

    Good luck!
    Stephen Edwards, Apr 19, 2005
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  3. Darren

    Darren Guest

    No, it's a client's illustration.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the problem. I have found a slightly better
    technique. I zoom in and draw around the areas I want to remove with the
    magnetic lasso tool. Then I feather the selection by one pixel and delete
    the selection. I do this slowly working around the lizard. Still takes a
    considerable amount of time, but the end result is pretty good.

    You're still using Photoshop 4? I think an upgrade is long over due. If your
    computer is older and the newer versions would be too slow, then at least
    upgrade to 5.5. There were many improvements made in 5.5. You could probably
    find a used copy for dirt cheap.

    If anyone else has other suggestions I would love to hear them. Thanks.
    Darren, Apr 19, 2005
  4. Darren

    Mike Guest

    Pen tool to make a path around the lizard. Convert to a selection. Invert
    the selection, delete everything in the inverted selection (press Delete).
    Only Mr Lizard is left.
    The pen tool can be very frustrating until you get the hang of it. After
    that, it's the most valuable selection tool available when you are working
    with clearly defined (and hopefully not too complex!) outlines. Well worth
    Mike, Apr 19, 2005
  5. Darren

    Harry Limey Guest

    Mike's suggestion re the pen tool is probably best, but you could also use
    the quick mask tool and paint around the lizard with a hard edged paint
    brush, when you are happy you can convert to a selection and erase or copy
    to new layer.
    The mask tool is the most forgiving in that you can paint back bits you
    removed accidentally and it is easier to use than the pen if not quite as
    precise. (I'm assuming you can use the mask tool)

    Harry Limey, Apr 19, 2005
  6. Darren

    Tacit Guest

    In this case, the lizard is relatively hard-edged. The easiest way to
    select the lizard and isolate it from the background is with the Pen

    Use the Pen tool to put a path around this lizard; this can be done very
    quickly. Then turn the path into a selection and use the selection to
    mask out the background.
    Tacit, Apr 19, 2005
  7. Darren

    Tacit Guest

    Naah; someone proficient with the Pen tool can path the lizard in about
    five minutes. :)

    The Pen tool is the most difficult tool on the Toolbar to learn. It's
    also one of the most powerful, and a person who has mastered it can do
    in minutes what might take hours with the other tools.
    Tacit, Apr 19, 2005
  8. Darren

    Darren Guest

    Ok then, I guess it's finally time that I learn how to use that pen tool.
    I've always been a little scared of it. It might take me some time to learn,
    but it sounds like the time invested is definitely going to pay off in the

    Thanks again for the advice!
    Darren, Apr 20, 2005
  9. Nah. Newer versions of Photoshop don't have any features in them that I
    really need. In fact, I use the GIMP quite a bit too, and there will
    come a point in time where it will replace Photoshop for my needs.
    Actually, I have a copy of 5.5 that I bought from my alma mater's computer
    surplus facility about a year ago for about $50.00, still shrinkwrapped in
    the box, but I never got around to installing it.

    My goal is to move away from commercial software someday, and rely on
    opensource for what I need my computers for. In fact, when I finally
    have enough money to get that new G5 I want (or whatever is the latest
    and greatest workstation then), I plan to have no commercial software
    on it, with the exception of Mac OS X.
    Stephen Edwards, Apr 20, 2005
  10. Five minutes? Are you sure you're not talking about "bullet time". :-D
    True. The pen tool has saved my rear end a few times when my ink jobs on
    my comic art didn't turn out exactly "neat", due to imperfections in the
    paper, or carelessness on my part.
    Stephen Edwards, Apr 20, 2005
  11. Darren

    tacit Guest

    Assuming the image is the size of the one on the Web page, and not
    larger, then yes, five minutes should be about enough time. Of course,
    I've been using the Pen tool since about 1994 or so... :)

    True story: Back when I was working prepress at the second trade shop I
    was at, I had a project (a catalog) that required putting clipping paths
    on a large number of images. One of those images was a photograph of a
    pile of bolts, about 80 MB in size, full-page. I had to put a path
    around all the bolts, carefully outlining all the threads on each bolt;
    took, all in all, about seven hours.
    tacit, Apr 20, 2005
  12. AUGH! Flashbacks! Unclean! Unclean! Make it go away!

    I had to do something similar to a large poster sized picture of a
    bunch of coins scattered across a desk. The picture was for a brochure
    for an insurance company's local office.

    At the time, I was using a Macintosh Centris 650, with 32MB of RAM, and
    System 7.1, which loved making my applications quit at just the right time.
    Not fun. It was, as I like to say, like kicking dead elephants uphill...
    barefoot... in the snow... while having rabid ferrets snap at my heels.

    But it was, by no means, the worst thing that I'd faced in those days.

    No, the worst time I think I ever had was when I was tasked with laying out
    a bunch of attachment cards for some chintzy line of jewelery a client
    wanted to market. Now, for you newcomers to the industry:

    RULE NO. 1) Never agree to work with an associate of your client's on any
    project(s) unless they are proven to be knowledgable and reliable.

    It seems that our client already had someone on their end create some artwork
    for us to use. "Sure", says I, thinking that it would save me time. Of course,
    it ended up costing me about two weeks of wasted time. For starters, this said
    someone had absolutely no experience with graphic design. She sent her artwork
    to us on CD (because she had no idea how to use her internet account), which
    I promptly had a look at upon reciept. When I attempted to open it in
    Illustrator, I saw the damnedest thing: random parts of the image were vector
    data, and other parts were raster data... I'd never seen anything like it.
    During the numerous times that I had spoken to her, from what I could gather,
    she was creating some portions of the "artwork" in Corel Paint, and importing
    it into Corel Draw, adding some vector art to it, *CUTTING* it, and then
    *PASTING* it into Illustrator. I kept telling her that this was a Very Bad
    Idea(tm), and that she should create the artwork in Illustrator, but she
    would simply pretend to agree to my comments, and just do the same thing (or
    just send the same exact file to me) over and over again.

    For two weeks, this is pretty much how my days went:

    1.) Get another CD in the mail.
    2.) Open the file in Illustrator, only to find that it's still wrong.
    3.) Call client's "artist", and sit on the phone with her for two hours in
    an attempt to explain to her for the billionth time how to create and
    properly export artwork for me to use, as well as ask her to send it on
    CD when she's finished.
    4.) Hang up the phone, go outside to the parking lot, and scream at the top
    of my lungs.
    5.) Come back inside and explain to boss why the project isn't getting done.
    6.) Call client and explain to him why the project isn't getting done.
    7.) Wait for boss to finish talking to client on phone, knowing that client's
    clueless "artist" is blaming me, and yet again, explain to my boss why the
    project isn't getting done.

    And I would repeat this ad nauseum every day for fifteen days. No, I'm not

    To make matters worse, we were using Illustrator 6 at the time, whereas they
    were using version 7, and so it was very easy for them to point their fingers
    at me as the cause of the problem. So, what did we end up doing? I told my

    "Okay, fine. I'm tired of playing games. If they want this utter crap in
    print, they'll get it."

    So, we ran it. It looked like shit. The client didn't like it, and after
    I had sternly talked some sense into the client, and told him that normally,
    the kind of time his project took would have cost him thousands of dollars
    anywhere else, he agreed that someone else should do the artwork. Of course,
    it wasn't us... it was some half-assed outfit that charged him about twice the
    amount that we would have... and they didn't do a very good job either, but by
    that point, I was so over that job, that I just didn't give a flying **** about
    any quality in the product whatsoever.

    By far, my worst experience ever in graphics design.
    Stephen Edwards, Apr 20, 2005
  13. Darren

    Tacit Guest

    Heh. By no small coincidence, my story also involved CorelDRAW:

    We had a client who did low-end work--generally, one and two color
    trifold brochures, that sort of thing--and refused to use anything but
    CorelDRAW. Generally it wasn't that big a problem, because he usually
    knew what he was doing well enough to get by.

    Somehow, he scored a significant client way out of his normal league, a
    client that wanted him to do package design and a five-color catalog.
    Well, our friend Mr. Client was totally unfamiliar with such
    highfalutin' concepts as "color separation" and "prepress," but since
    one does not know what one does not know, he soldiered on anyway.

    Both jobs--the package design and the catalog--were assembled entirely
    in CorelDRAW. He knew enough to know that he needed to place his images
    in CMYK, but he didn't know enough to know how to do a decent CMYK
    separation, so he just scanned all the images on his desktop scanner,
    saved them from Photo-Paint with the default profile-based CMYK
    separation, placed them in CorelDRAW, and gave us the CorelDRAW file. He
    did not, alas, realize that he had to give us the images as well, and he
    didn't realize that working in CMYK means working in CMYK in CorelDRAW
    too, which means that some of his black text was black, some of it was
    four-color black, some of it was spot black, some of it was RGB
    black...but I digress.

    Have you ever SEEN Photo-Paint's CMYK separations? Dear God in Heaven,
    they look awful.

    And, just as the final kicker...the background of both the packages and
    the catalog was to print in a spot blue. But the client loves
    CorelDRAW's lens effects and drop shadow effects, oh my yes he does.
    Trouble is, those effects cause anything they touch to be rasterized...

    ....and converted to CMYK, not spot.

    He insisted the job was 100% ready-to-go, and that he would not pay for
    any unnecessary charges to "fix" his files. When I called him, he
    insisted that no, the job should go as-is. So I ran film and pulled a

    Have I mentioned how awful Photo-Paint's CMYK seps are? Photo-Paint's
    separation engine does for images what Jonestown did for Kool-Aid.

    Needless to say, getting the job out correctly required re-constructing
    most of it, starting with his original scans and using his "ready-to-go"
    CorelDRAW files as a rough guideline to what he *actually* wanted. And
    needless to say, when he saw the bill, he choked.

    There is a happy ending to the story, though. He insisted he would never
    do business with us again.
    Tacit, Apr 20, 2005
  14. Darren

    Brian Guest

    Sounds like one of your "Corel is crap" stories again Tacit. All I can
    say is, you use Illustrator and I will stick to CorelDraw any day of the
    week. I have not seen CS2, but CS1 Illy - you can have it! You are so
    biased and promote the same bullshit I hear all the time from Adobe lovers.

    That is why I have no respect for you! You can like what you like, but
    stop rubbishing other products. Most people who know CD well can't stand
    Illustrator. The job gets done FAR quicker in CorelDraw and it produces
    the same final PDF as Illustrator too! It just gets there twice as quick.

    Once again, I don't want to go down this track, but just sick of your
    bullshit, Mr. Know All (not).

    Brian, Apr 20, 2005
  15. Corel is virtually never used in the graphics industry. There is a reason for
    that. It doesn't have the muscle to get professionals the results they want.
    It's not about bias. It's about what works and what doesn't. Corel's products
    simply don't work in a professional environment. If they work for what you
    need them for, then great, use them... but don't expect professional graphic
    designers to look at what they nearly unanimously consider to be a pile of
    feces, and call it a gelato to spare the feelings of someone else who has
    chosen to place a cherry on top of it.

    It's the same reason why most large commercial web servers run some flavor
    of BSD or GNU/Linux. It's because despite what stockholders are trying to
    shove down our throats, the IT industry knows that Windows doesn't do well
    as a server or network operating system on a large scale.
    With about 1/4 of the quality and compatibility.
    Tacit isn't behaving like a "Mr. Know it all". He's using common sense,
    and using the best tool for the job. That's what you have to do when money
    is on the line.

    Why are you being so defensive about this? Why do you care anyway?

    OS/Application zeal is usually rooted in the fact that someone has some kind
    of inferiority complex issues. For example, I still use a beige G3. It runs
    Mac OS 8.1. Lots of people have told me that I need to upgrade, or that my
    version of Mac OS sucks. My response is usually this... *YAWN*. Why exactly
    do you care what *ONE PERSON* has to say about the software you use?
    Stephen Edwards, Apr 20, 2005
  16. Darren

    Brian Guest

    Ok, typical uneducated wanker I see! CorelDRaw is a professional product
    and is FAR more useable than Illustrator. Here's one for you and Tacit,
    seeing that you both know so much. I will laugh when you see the
    results. Do some homework and tell me which product has a larger market
    share "in the professional arena". Keep in mind this includes the
    embroidery/apparel industry, promotions industry, etc. not just limited
    to graphic designers. You will be surprised at the answer.
    Once again, bullshit! You don't know too much. There is no difference in
    the quality. You have simply been through Adobe brainwash school and
    been told that. I have said this so many times. Put 2 images side by
    side and no-one could tell which image had been created by which
    programme! what? Corel is compatible with so many
    formats it is amazing. Adobe, being the unfriendly, up-themself company
    they are....don't want to be compatible with anyone. Do you know why?
    Because if they were, people might try other programmes and actually
    like them better!
    Well, once again, I "am" a professional too and I do use what gives me
    the best results in the quickest possible time. You said it!!! Money is
    on the why would I want to take twice as long to get the job done?
    I am sick of the mentality of Adobe users, that is why I get annoyed. I
    never go around in the real world telling people that Adobe Illustrator
    is crap (which it isn't) and how much better CorelDraw is (even though I
    believe it is), but Adobe people (who have the real inferiority complex)
    do this all the time! If your product is so great, why do have this
    inherant need to tell everyone how crap Corel is? Why wouldn't you just
    use Illustrator and shine, and not say anything? Simple, Illustrator
    does not shine. That is why so many (Adobe people included) prefer
    Freehand and CDraw.
    See above - it is YOU who has the inferiority complex. Post an image
    that is so great in quality, and let me match that quality in CorelDraw
    to shut you up once and for all. You are all talk, you and Tacit.
    Talking of Mr So Professional Tacit, why is every picture on your
    website unclear? It is not hard to save a small jpg and keep it clear,
    or is that the superiority of Photoshop - built in soft focus filter to
    flatter the subject? (I know that was a silly statement, I am just
    pissed off at brainwashed people).

    Like I have said several times before, Adobe actually goes as far as to
    "teach" people in its classes that Corel is no good. Good way of
    minimising the competition I guess, but highly unethical. Most people
    (generalising) who criticise Corel don't even know it! I know some of
    you guys do, but I am talking generally. I have had people open their
    mouths and close them very quickly by whizzing around my laptop showing
    them what CDraw can do...and guess what, they were amazed!

    Anyway, enough of this repeated bullshit topic. You guys are brainwashed
    and will forever be criticising, so I am wasting my time even talking on
    this topic. I shall continue enjoying all the great advice on photoshop
    in here and general imaging tips, and just ignore your sad comments in
    other areas.

    All the best,
    Brian, Apr 21, 2005
  17. 8< snipped worthless blathering and paranoid poser ranting >8

    Your response has served no purpose but to demonstrate that you either need
    psychiatric attention, medication, or both. Please, get help.

    None of what you said changes the fact that Corel Draw is not considered a
    professional's tool by the mainstream. The reason why is because it was
    designed for people who want to make cutesy little greeting cards at home
    on their inkjet printers, not for people who have clients to complete
    financially lucrative projects for.

    Now stop whining about this. You're making an ass out of yourself.
    Stephen Edwards, Apr 21, 2005
  18. Darren

    Brian Guest

    No, not at all. You are just biased and can't admit it. All I can say is
    this, carry on giving your good advice about PS, which you certainly do,
    and leave other products out of the NG, especially ones you know nothing

    CorelDraw is equally as professional as Illustrator, but to anyone who
    knows both, a lot better to use. Illustrator CS2 may well have changed
    all that, of course. I hope it has, then Corel might get off their arse
    and bring some exciting new features to their product too.

    I don't dislike Adobe btw, Adobe makes terrific products. I just dislike
    biased Adobe users who can't recognise there are lots of good programmes
    out there, not just their own.

    Like I said earlier, post an image created in Illustrator that you think
    cannot be created to the same standard in that "greeting card" making
    programme. Then eat your words when I prove you wrong.

    Have a good day, all the best,

    p.s. I apologise to you Tacit, my previous post was a little too
    personal and totally uncalled for. You are a very talented man and
    demonstrate that throughout this NG with all the knowledge you pass on
    to others. I just get annoyed at times and over-react. Sorry about that :-(
    Brian, Apr 21, 2005
  19. No, Sir, you are wrong.
    They *ARE* awful.

    Helmut P. Einfalt, Apr 21, 2005
  20. Darren

    Tacit Guest

    Ah, so you're saying that CorelDRAW handles spot color as well as other
    programs, then?

    You do know what "spot color" is, right?
    Tacit, Apr 21, 2005
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