Extracting With Paint Shop Pro

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Extracting an object from an image (simply selecting the object and then doing something with it) with Paint Shop Pro can be very challenging and generally prone to a lot of frustration.  

The ability to make and then manipulate selections is dependent on your understanding of the tools involved - the marquee tools, the lasso tools, feathering and all of the other things that go with selections.

There is a tool that lives with the Clone Tool called the Object Remover.  This is used to permanently remove something from an image rather than extract an object to be used in some other way.  For instance, the Object Remover will remove an unsightly piece of trash (living or inanimate) from your favorite photograph.

The easiest way to make any selection is to use a Wacom pen tablet - Bamboo or Intuos. Certainly a mouse will work but it is much more difficult to control than the pen and not nearly as accurate.

extract The primary tools for selecting are
  • Marquee
  • Freehand Selection
  • Tools and the Magic Wand.

Now - did you know that you can also create a selection with the Paint Brush and/or with the Text Tool?

Marquee Tools

extractAs you can see from the list on the right, there are a lot of Marquee tools to choose from and unless you are extracting a rectangle or square or circle then you probably won't be using the Marquee Tools for cut outs..

Probably the ones that will be used the most are the Rectangle and the Circle or Ellipse.

They will not likely be used very often to extract items from an image because of the nature of the the objects generally extracted.

On the options bar there are a few options - Feathering and Anti-Aliasing.

Anti-aliasing produces a smooth-edged selection by partially filling in pixels along the edge, making them semitransparent.   You will probably leave anti-aliasing checked the majority of the time.


softens the area between a selection and the rest of the image by gradually increasing the transparency of the pixels along the edge of the selection.

This screen shot of Libby was selected with the Marquee Selection Tool and was feathered at 32 Pixels on an image that is 364 Pixels wide.

The selection was copied and pasted as a new layer - Edit < Paste As New Layer.

Once on a new layer it is easy to add a layer below the new layer and fill it with either a color or a gradient or anything you wish.

Lasso Tools

The different Lasso Tools (4 of them) may be the ones you use the most and they are the easiest to use with a pen and tablet.

Edge Seeker

The Edge Seeker does exactly what it ways - it seeks edges.  When using this selection tool you can set the distance used to search for an edge with the Range control in the options bar.  The accuracy of the Edge Seeker can be increased by clicking more often on the edge you are following.


With the Freehand Selection tool you simply trace around an object to create the selection.  The selection can be feathered and it can be smoothed by adjusting the settings for both.  It can be very challenging with a mouse - less so with a pen and tablet.

Point To Point

The Point to Point Selection tool lets you make a selection by joining straight lines one after the other by tapping the pen or left clicking.  This method of selecting works well with long straight lines on the object.  It can also be used on irregular objects with very little space between the points.

Smart Edge

extractingWhen the pen is dragged a rectangular box appears and when clicked the selection finds edges of differing contrast.  The accuracy of this selection tool is increased by clicking more often along the edges.

Extracting an object with the Smart Edge works well when the object has a lot of straight lines - like this pennant.

Other Controls

The Lasso Tools have additional  controls called Modes ...

  • Replace - replaces one selection with another one.
  • Add (Shift) - makes the selection larger by choosing the Add Mode or pressing the Shift key while  selecting.
  • Remove (Control) - makes the selection smaller by choosing the Remove Mode of pressing the Control key while selecting.

Painting Selections

Making a selection with the Paint Brush Tool may be the easiest and fastest method to extract an object or make any selection whatsoever.

To put it another way - painting a selection is totally wonderful.  Once you figure this one out you may never (or rarely) use the other selection tools again!

If you are at all familiar with the tools in Photoshop then this method is akin to the Quick Mask.

And the great thing about it that itès dead simple to use and if you are willing to take the time then you can complete some really complex selections with the brush tool.

To make a selection with the Brush Tool choose Selections > Edit Selection.  You can start with an image with no selections or start with a selection you have made with one of the other tools.

What Selections > Edit Selection does is put a Selection Layer above the image and then ...

  1. Select the Brush Tool.
  2. Change the settings in the Options bar to suit the work at hand (size and hardness, for instance).
  3. Set the Brush Variance (change size with pressure is a good ideas ) when using a Pen Tablet.
  4. Select White as the foreground color.

Now start painting on the image.  A ruby red overlay shows the brush strokes.extract

If you make a mistake and go too far simply change the foreground color to black and paint out the error - it's simple as that.

You can be very, very precise with this method of selecting because you can zoom in very close on the image and paint with a brush as small as one pixel if that is what is needed.

The image can also be rotated (don't know about you but I have a terrible time painting straight horizontal lines and rotating to make horizontal into vertical is just the ticket).

And here's another advantage.  The file can be saved as a .pspimage and when it is loaded again the selection is still there.  Now that's awesome when you're working on a complicated image and need to take a break or someone wants to boot you off of the computer in the middle of a complicated selection.

OK - back to the technique.  When you're finished painting the selection once go to Selections > Edit Selection and that nice ruby red magically turns into a selection.  Zoom in and out - check out your work and if youère not happy then go to Selections > Edit Selection and do some additional painting until you are satisfied.

When youère done you can copy the selection or move it to a new layer or a new document or another image whatever you need to do.

There really is no downside to this method of selecting and extracting, is there?

How about an example ...

An Example


This is a good example because it's a complicated selection.  The spokes and the air holes on the brakes (at least I think they're brakes) would be a nightmare to select.

In this example the choice is to choose Select > Edit Selection and start painting - here is the tire partly completed ...


You can see that the ruby red mask is extending too far in some places and some areas still need to be done.

After another hour or so of zooming in and zooming out and painting with my pen and tablet (the only way to do a selection this complicated) this is the result ...

extracting extracting
Painted with
Selections > Edit Selection
The Final Selection

Check the accuracy of the selection by ...

  1. Selections > Promote Selection To Layer
  2. Selections > Select None
  3. Create a new Raster Layer between the Background Layer and the promoted layer
  4. Fill the new Raster layer with a contrasting color and zoom in on the image to confirm the selection is good.

With the black motorcycle tire the best contrasting color is somthing wild like this purply color ...


A pretty good result for something more than an hour of painting!  Just for a moment stop - and imagine how difficult it would be to do that with any of the other selection tools - makes your eyes roll back into your head, doesn't it?

When the selection was first checked there was an area that I missed - yikes!

This is where the History Palette is so useful - I just went back to the last step before leaving Edit > Selections, fixed the problem and then went through the four setps again.


Extracting The Sax Player

Text Selections

You can even do a selection with Text - strange but true!

There are a couple of interesting things you can do with text as a selection - you can paint it and if you create the text selection on a image then the parts of the image under the selection will fill the text - which is another way of extracting.

This is explained in the Paint Shop Pro Scrapbooking section - click the link to learn about Text Selections.

Extracting Page Links

Marquee Tools
Lasso tools

Painting Selections

Selecting With Text


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