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Making Your Own Elements by Extracting
Written with an Adobe Photoshop “bias” but applicable to all programs.
First out, I want to say, that making elements from extracted items will never replace the skills you need to make your own from scratch but it’s a great additional skill. There are several situations when I especially like to uses extractions:
Biggest reason is sentiment – I have extracted Granny’s jewellery, Great Aunt Grace’s watch on a chain, Mum’s handwriting, souvenirs from holidays, little Joshua’s own toys - all items which could never give the same feel to a page, or the same sentiment as the most beautifully made element from scratch that ever was!
Another situation is realism – particularly items from nature, are so difficult to get looking really “right” – painted flowers can look lovely on a LO, but if I want it looking real, for me, extracting is the way to go!
One article on extractions can never be enough to teach you all the skills you need, you need to experiment, practice & play to get good at it & you need a lot of patience, but if you want something really special it is worth it! Play with the tools – the erasers, masks, lassos, wands – they all have great uses, read up all you can about them, practice with them, do as many tutorials as you can find.
For your first project don’t try one like I did – a daughter, with curly auburn hair standing against a red wood paneled wall…………… it will put you off forever! The best will be something you have especially photographed for extraction (see tips below). Once you have your photograph, look at it carefully and decide how best to tackle the project.
The first step will always be to save your photo as a copy – DON’T work with the original then start working on it, take your time! Zoom in really close when working with tricky areas.
If you are using Photoshop, your easiest will be to work with a mask you work with a brush - black hides, white revels, so if you make a mistake and erase the wrong thing you just switch to white & paint it back in! I resisted learning anything about masks for ages – DON’T! – they are NOT scary, they are a fantastic help!
When I think my object is “clean”, something I always do is to fill the layer behind the object with different colours, a white, a yellow, a blue – these may show up stray pixels. (Bye the way, whilst working on an extraction never try to work on a transparent background, its very hard to see what you are doing!). Another good trick is to go to your layer styles & make a drop shadow, this will show odd pixels very quickly! Once you are convinced that your object is as clean as you can get it, save as a .png and file it where you will find it easily again when you want to use it. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you too, to save, save, save whilst you work? You DON’T want to get nearly to the end only to have a power dip & loose everything?
PHOTOGRAPHING ESPECIALLY FOR AN EXTRACTION:
Practice, practice, and enjoy yourself!
I look forward to seeing lots of layouts using YOUR
own special things! Meryl
© Meryl Bartho Jan, 2005
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