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Working with the Background Eraser
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Working with the Background Eraser
Created by: Zonia

 
In this lesson we will cover the new Background Eraser of PSP 8 and some filters. Again we will use many features of PSP 8, e.g. Browse, Selections, Specks and Holes, Export Tubes, and Plug-ins.
 
Download File Download File


Download Link Mura's Meister Cloud Filter

The download file on the left contains the photo I used for this tutorial, but this is not a requirement, you can also use one of your own.

If you don't already have it installed you might want to download Mura's Meister Cloud Filter with the download link on the left.

 
First I want to remind you that the purpose of these lessons is to introduce you to all the PSP 8 features and show you how to use them. Therefore I am not going to go into great detail here. There are several tutorials covering the Background Eraser available on the web. After finishing this lesson I recommend you do the one at http://moonsdesigns.com/tutorials/psp8/bge.html by Moon's Designs. The writer goes into more detail than I am going to here. She did a great job explaining what the settings are for and how to use the feature plus some.
 

To keep this lesson simple I recommend you choose an image that has a high contrast between the part you want to keep and the part you want to erase. For example, the image on the left has high contrast but there are a few areas that could cause some problems because the colors are so close.

I have circled the problem areas in red. I am not saying it cannot be done, just saying it would be harder. With that said let's get started.

 

Browse




Go to File || Browse (Ctrl+B). A Browse window will open with folders on the left, and thumbnails of the images in the selected folder are displayed on the right. I use Browse a lot more than I do Open. It lets you view normal images but also lets you view stuff like Preset Shapes, Selections, Brushes, and so on. You can click on a thumbnail, hold down the Shift key, and use the arrow keys to select several thumbnails in a row.

You can hold down the Ctrl key and click on different thumbnails to select several thumbnails not in a row. Once you selected the thumbnails of the images you want to open in PSP just hit the Enter key.

Browse for an image that has high contrast as I suggested earlier, or you can use the one I am using. Whatever image you use, also duplicate it to preserve the original (Window || Duplicate or Shft+D).

The image I am using is a great image to use because there is not any purple in the part of the image I want to keep so it will be really easy to erase the background. If the layer in the Layer palette is named Background then go to Layers || Promote Background Layer. The layer has to be a raster layer for the Background Eraser to work because it needs transparency.

 
Background Eraser Tool  Preset: Reset to Default Option


Select the Background Eraser tool using the default settings (click on the arrow beside "Presets" and click on the Reset button).

The main thing to remember when using the Background Eraser is the color that is in the center of the cursor (pointer) is the color that will be erased. Left mouse button erases and right mouse button restores.

You can do single clicks all the way around the portion of the image you want to keep, hold down the mouse button and drag around, or a combination of both. Just remember to keep the center of the cursor from touching any part you want to keep. I use the combination method myself.

First I used the single click method to erase areas around the building.

Then I used the drag method to erase the rest. I went over the area several times.

 
Magic Wand Tool

Looks like it is all erased, but it isn't. Look at the marquee (selection) I get when I clicked on the transparent areas with the Magic Wand.

Click on the Magic Wand Tool and then into the transparent area of your image. Is the entire area you want to be transparent selected? If not don't worry, it is easy to fix.

I used Moon's Design method: Go to Selections || Select All (Ctrl+A), then to Selections || Float (Ctrl+F), now to Selections || Defloat, and last to Selections || Invert. That's a lot of selection options, huh?

 

We have one more selection option to do: Selections || Modify || Remove Specks and Holes, using Moon's Design settings:
– Remove Specks and Holes = checked
– Square area smaller than = 20 x 10 pixels

It worked perfect for this picture.

Now the entire area I want transparent is selected so I am going to hit the Delete key on the keyboard to eliminate all those specks and holes. Then deselect with Selections || Select None (Ctrl+D).

I still haven't figured out how they did the math in the help file when I read about removing Specks and Holes but Jasc did say to start with low numbers and increase as necessary.

 

Now what do we do with it. Well you can export it as a picture tube by going to File || Export || Picture Tube. Name it what you want it.

However since I promised to cover filters in this lesson I am going to add a blue cloudy sky where the purple one was.

Let's talk about plug-in filters a little bit. There seems to be confusion as to why the plug-ins people already have installed and are using in PSP 7 aren't in PSP 8. That is a simple question to answer ... PSP 8 doesn't know they are there.

Go to File || Preferences || File Locations. Select Plug-ins under "File types". Click on the Add button and then click on the Browse button and locate the folder where the plug-ins are installed. Click on OK. Now if you look at Effects || Plugins your plug-ins should be there.

I can't tell you where they are but you can click on the Start button in the Windows task bar, choose Search, and type something like "Blade" or "Eye Candy" and see what folder those filters are in.

 

Special Tip

A note here: I have several programs which can use plug-ins and I want all of them to be able to find them. At the same time I don't want to delete them if I remove a program that uses them so I never install them in a program's folder. I have a folder on my hard drive called "Filters" where I extract/install all the plug-ins, then I point all the programs that use them to that folder.

 
Materials Palette - Materials Box  Materials Solid Color Option

Okay, extract Mura's Meister Cloud filter to where you put your plug-ins. Make sure PSP 8 is pointing to the folder you put it in (File || Preferences || File Locations).

Change your Background Material to Color = White (#FFFFFF) and your Foreground Material to Color = a Light Blue (#DAEDFA). Go to Layers || New Raster Layer, then to Layers || Arrange || Send to Bottom.

Go to Effects || Plugins || Mura's Meister || Cloud. Use the default settings and click on OK.

Now the sky in my photo is fixed. Go to Layers || Merge || Merge All (Flatten) and save your image (File || Save).

That's it. I hope you enjoyed this lesson.