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Epson Computer Tip: Using the Magic Selection and Magic Extractor Brushes In Photoshop Elements 4.0
By Barbara Kotsos

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What do you do when you have only part of a picture that’s good? For instance, maybe you have a GREAT picture of your kids but the background is full of distracting objects like toys, dirty dishes, or an ugly couch from the 70’s). Or perhaps you want to move a person from one photograph to another? When you use Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 4.0, it’s easier than ever to take your subject out of a photo and drop them into a new one, or just onto a more exciting background.

Magic Selection Brush – Open your photo, and click on the Magic Selection Brush tool (or F on your keyboard) – it’s hiding under the Selection Brush tool in the Toolbox. Now, just take the brush and scribble over your subject. You don’t need to go crazy – sometimes one line is all it takes. Once you’re done, the computer thinks for a bit then puts a selection around the subject (or what it thinks is the subject, based on where you scribbled). If it doesn’t work perfectly the first time, hold the Shift key and paint another stroke (this will add to your selection). If it selected too much, undo (Ctrl-Z) and scribble over a different area.

Once your subject has been selected, it’s time to have some fun! You can copy the selection (Ctrl-C), and open up a different image to paste (Ctrl-V) your selection into. Once you’ve got the subject on the new background, switch to the Move tool (V) to drag the subject into the right position. You can also resize using the Move tool – simply hold down the Shift key, click on a corner handle, and drag. Once you are done resizing, press Enter to confirm.

Here we’ve decided to move “Moose” onto a different page. We’ve scribbled on the original picture (see the red scribble above) and then the software automatically selected ALL of Moose – see the dotted line around him in the second picture? He’s now all set to move onto another photo or onto a scrapbook layout!

Magic Extractor - The Magic Extractor is very similar to the Magic Selection Brush tool, except that it extracts the subject from the background and puts it onto a transparent background. This comes in handy when you want to save the subject to use with different photos at a later date.

To use the Magic Extractor tool, open your image and go to Image | Magic Extractor. A new window will open up with tools along the left side.

First, use the foreground brush (the top tool) to scribble over your subject in red. Then use the background brush (the 2nd tool from the top) to
scribble over the background in blue.

You can click on Preview to see a preview of the selection. You may also want to Defringe the selection, which will smooth out the pixels around the edge. Once you are finished, press OK – your image will appear on a checkerboard background (the checkerboard means that it is transparent) that won’t actually show up when printed). You can save this photo as a .png file so that it retains the transparent background. And now you’re ready to simply use your Move tool to click and drag your
subject onto new backgrounds.

Our friend Moose has visited the world (through the magic of PSE)!

Here we used the Magic Extractor to select the flower from this background, and then added it to our layout. We resized it and rotated it so we’d have three different flowers on our layout!


Sponsor: Epson America, Inc.

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