Saturday, September 18, 2010

postheadericon TECHNIQUE - The Fine Art of Extraction...Part I

Extraction can sometimes be a dreaded word. For those who are detail oriented it may take forever, but be wonderfully satisfying. Extraction techniques vary with each person and from level to level. I can't begin to show or even KNOW them all but I will share what I have learned over the years.
Seven or eight years ago I used to teach extraction in paper scrapping. The sample for the class was a fantasy layout with a little cut-out child, with wings, on a flower. I had copies of appropriate photos if anyone didn't have one of her own. Fantasy supplies were provided by the store.

First I would try to move the scrappers on from scissors to X-acto knife. Even these have changed over the years from the A shaped blade to a tiny, retractable model. Holding the knife so the blade slanted inward from the edge of the figure was one of two keys. The other was touching up the edges of the photo with black, navy, brown or some other dark color. This reduced the visibility of the awkward edge, especially with photopaper copies.

I remember the wild creativity of my scrappers well. One brought a photo of her cat and ended up with a great layout of the cat, WITH wings, perched in the middle of a pretty flower. It was great! I do wonder about the reaction one sweet grandmother got when she placed a photo of her grandson (about 10 years old) with wings in the center of another flower.

Choosing the right photo to use for extraction is the first chore. Faces can be tricky. A side view may result in a nose, lips, forehead not extracted perfectly and the person will not look like him or herself. If you don't have to extract the face you are much safer. Hair can be tedious to extract so extremely curly or fluffy hair is another thing to avoid if possible. Look, also, for a lot of contrast between the thing you want to extract and the background you want to leave out.
MAGIC WAND: I guess the easiest extractions are with a "Magic Wand" in Photoshop (I use Adpbe Photoshop Creative Suite 4). Other programs have similar tools. If you have a photo with a lot of contrast between background and figure careful use of the wand will result in a pretty good extraction. Your settings WILL matter. Contiguous or Non-contiguous? Well, it depends. Thank goodness for the ability to undo in history!
Contiguous means Touching or near touching. If you choose that you will have to touch the wand tool to each and every place where the backgound shows through. If you are trying to extract something like a net, this can be a real pain.
Non-Contiguous, of course, is just the opposite and will allow you to choose, with one touch, all the places of that color at once. This is fine unless the background color picks up something similar within the photo you want to keep. In that case, you can switch to contiguous in the settings or change the tolerance in the settings so less similar colors will not be picked. Play with tolerance or change to contiguous.
FILTER: There is a filter for "cutout". It is in the fly-out menu for the artistic under filters. I used it a few times but found it wasn't right for me. Go ahead and try it. Play with the settings. It may be just the right technique for you.

About Me

Forty Years of Scrapping

Long before it was popular, I was trying to decorate arrangements of photos and sentimental items. Here I want to share some of my personal history and more important, some ideas I have gleaned from more than 40 years of scrapping.


A granny with a camera and a computer

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