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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just can't seem to get any good results cutting the background out around a modelcar etc. I use Photoshop Elements 3.0 and i have tried the magnetic lasso, magic wand and all that.

Step by step, can someone tell me how you guys get it to look so good? I haven't gotten in to the whole thing with layers either. My current one is the rushed work of the magic wand. I want more advanced stuff, please advice.

/Rich
 

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I'm no good with the lasso either, but I use the magic wand all the time. I've found the most important thing when using it takes place before you even start up PS. If at all possible, choose a picture with a fairly solid background that contrasts with the car (or whatever the foreground object is you want to use).

You said to go step by step, but I'm assuming you know the basics, like left clicking to choose the first area, then right clicking and choosing whether to add, subtract, deselect etc., and using "Undo". If not, let me know and I'll try to explain them.

The first thing you should probably do is crop the picture down to a manageable size. Trim it close to the car, but not right up tight. The wand likes to have a bit of room to work, and if you crop it too close you'll just have to add several small areas instead of one large one.

Next, get used to adjusting the "Tolerance". I've never seen Elements, but in PS it's a small box with a 2-digit number in it above the work area. If you find the wand is taking parts of your car along with the background, adjust the number downward. If you find it's not taking enough (for example with grass, gravel etc.) try a larger number. This is largely a process of trial and error, but it doesn't take long, and after a while you'll develop a feel for what works.

That's about it for the wand basics as far as I know. If anyone else has anything to add, please jump in, maybe I'll learn a new trick!

As for layers, til you get used to them, the best thing to do is probably create a new layer every time you add anything to your project. You can always merge them later on. This will allow you to easily remove something if you decide you don't like it, partially hide an object behind another, make something transparent etc. If you do it all on one layer you're pretty much locked in as you go along. You can change the order of layers, alter their opacity, turn them on or off etc. all in the layers box. This is in the bottom right corner of PS, once again I'm not sure about Elements.

Hope this was helpful, Rich. I'm not great at explaining things, so if there's anything you don't understand, I'll try again.
 

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In cutting out pictures in PS I find these things work well:

Find either an image that is very large or an image that has a high contrast background.

The reason is that large images can be cut out using the eraser tool to give you white space around the car (or whatever object you want to cut) and when you paste the cutout into a new image you can shrink it which reduces jaggies and other obvious signs of editing.

High contrast is great because it makes the cutting process easier. Again I like to work with large images because when they're resized for banners they look great.

When you use the eraser too, set it for paint brush mode instead on pencil mode (I'n not sure if this works in elements). Pencil mode leaves jagged edges around a shape while paint brush mode gives you a clean aliased cut.

Shrinking an object is the best way to make it look good though. It hides editing really well.

:cheers

Mark
 
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