Removing Objects from Their Background

Let’s pull the apple off the background and give it a new home. Duplicate the
Background layer. Create a new layer between the two apple layers and fill it with white.
Rename the Background Copy Extract
Select the Pen tool in the Toolbar. On the Options bar click the Paths icon; it is the second
icon from the left at the top of the screen (see Figure 1.11). Click the mouse anywhere
along the edge of the subject (in this case, the apple) to serve as a starting point. Move along
the edge of the object a short distance in either direction and click to add another point. If
the path between the two points rests on a curve on the object’s edge, hold down the mouse
when you create the second point and drag it further along the edge a short distance. This
will cause the straight path to slowly conform to the curve of the apple’s edge.
Work your way around the entire apple, including the stem. You may have to exercise
a little guesswork in the areas of extreme highlight or shadow, so work the path to make the
shape appear natural. When you have reached the starting point, click on the first point to
close the path (see Figure 1.12).
After you have outlined the entire apple, open the
Paths panel. You will see a new Work Path resident in the
shape of your apple (see Figure 1.13). The next step is to
convert the path into a selection, which you do by clicking
the Load Path As A Selection icon at the bottom of
the Paths panel (the third icon from the left) or by opening
the Paths panel menu and selecting Make Selection
from the list (see Figure 1.14).
Once the “marching ants” appear around the
apple, you can copy the apple and paste it into a new document
for later use. To copy the apple, press F/Ctrl+C or
select Edit → Copy. Create a new document (File → New
or F/Ctrl+N), which will be the size of the apple by
default. Ensure the Background is set to Transparent to
avoid having to extract the apple again in the future in
case you save it in a nonlayered format

Paste the apple into the new document (F/Ctrl+V; see Figure 1.16). If you would like
to save this image for later use, I recommend saving it as a PNG file. This format will retain
the transparent background so you can easily drag and drop the object into any photo environment
you choose as well as resize it to fit your needs.

Choose Edit → Transform → Scale and resize the apple to better conform to the size of
the eight ball without leaving any of the ball showing (see Figure 1.19). Once it's in place,
accept the transformation.
You may want to use the Burn tool to darken the lower edge of the apple as well as the
ground beneath it to better conform it to the image. You may also add a shadow to the grass
with the Burn tool to achieve a bit more realism

Let’s do one more little trick before we move on. As the apple
leaves a shadow on the grass, the grass in turn should leave a reflection
on the apple. We can simulate this by generating a feathered
selection on the right side of the apple with the Lasso tool, then creating
a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and forcing a green tonal
change to that area.
To see what I mean, select the Lasso tool. On the Options bar
change the Feather radius to 20px. Draw a selection along the
lower-right region of the apple’s edge, as seen in Figure 1.21. You
can move the selection into place with the arrow keys so the selection
roughly follows along the edge of the object.
At the bottom of the Layers panel, click the Create New Fill
Or Adjustment Layer icon. Choose Hue/Saturation from the menu.
Any adjustments will be focused on the selected area thanks to the
adjustment layer’s mask (see Figure 1.22).
New in Photoshop CS4 are the Adjustments and
Masks panels, which give you more control over the adjustments
made and the areas of the layer affected.
With the adjustment layer in place,
double-click it in the Layers panel to open
the Adjustments panel. Move the Hue slider
until you get a subtle green reflection (see
Figure 1.23). Once the adjustment is made,
you should have replaced the eight ball with
the apple, complete with enhanced shadows
and colored reflection
Granted, the final image is a bit “far out,” but the extraction itself worked like a
charm. The Path tool does take a bit of practice, but there is nothing like it for giving you
crisp, clear edges for your extracted objects.

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