Photoshop Quick Tip: Clean Extraction

Extraction of objects or people in photo manipulation is an art-form on its own!

There are many tutorials available for different methods of extraction, but at the end of the day, most manipulators will not use just one method – certain objects require certain methods, whether that is due to their size, complexity or whatever.

I am not advocating any particular method of extraction in this tip, rather, I am sharing a quick way of cleaning up after extraction (with a mask and the Brush tool).

Photoshop Quick Tip: Clean Extraction

I have used this image  from, then cut it down in width as shown below


Step 1

Duplicate the background layer

Select the Polygonal Lasso tool and create a selection of the flowers, keeping close to the petals, but leaving a little blue sky around. When you have your selection, create a mask on your layer by clicking the icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

You should end up with just the flowers with a little blue around them as shown below (you will have to turn off the visibility of the original layer)

Image 1

Step 2

Select the Brush tool and a small, soft round brush.

Make sure your mask is selected and black is the foreground colour.

Paint away the remaining blue around the edges of the flowers.

You can increase and decrease the size of the brush as necessary using [ and ] on the keyboard.

When you have finished – it looks good, yes?

Or does it?

The problem with using the Brush tool – especially when using soft brushes – is that we leave some traces behind that we can’t see but that could reduce the quality of the finished manipulation.

Here is the tip that will prevent that and ensure you have beautifully smooth curves on your extractions.

Step 3

Double click on the layer in the layers palette or click on the fx symbol at the bottom of the layers palette to bring up the blending options.

Select Stroke – set to 1pt, Outside, colour Bright Red

Now you can see what you have missed – and you are probably surprised!

You will probably see something like the image below

Image 2

Now, making sure the layer mask is selected, paint out all that you missed.

You can also check the smoothness of your edges – make sure there are no ‘steps’ where the lines should be nicely curved.

This is what you should end up with

Image 3

Now you know your extraction is perfectly clean! Right click on the layer in the layers palette and click Clear Layer Style to remove the red outline.

Now you can continue your manipulation or whatever your project is.

Here I have added a bokeh texture behind the flowers, then made a selection of the flowers, created a new layer under the flower layer, filled the selection with a dark green and applied a Gaussian Blur – around 35px to soften the petal edges.

Final Image


I love using and learning Photoshop, and I also enjoy creating resources to share with the world. I am at my happiest when I have free time to further explore all that Photoshop has to offer and learn more about its powerful built-in tools. I hope people enjoy either using or learning from my free resources, and welcome any hints and tips - and of course, if you would like to offer a free resource on this site, please don't hesitate to contact me (top right of the page).


Digital Lady Syd

about 7 years ago

Great Tip! Never thought of using the Stroke Layer Style that way. Thanks for sharing.



about 7 years ago

You're welcome... hope it helps :)



about 6 years ago

OMGosh this is wonderful. love it. i would have never ever would have thought of using the stroke tool.


Image Masking

about 6 years ago

You have done a great work excellent tutorial it is, thanks a lot for sharing with us !!


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