Digital Toolbox: How to Remove the Background

You don't have to join PETA to free an elephant from the zoo -- and show it off in style.

Digital-Toolbox-How-to-Remove-the-Background

Digital-Toolbox-How-to-Remove-the-Background

The worst thing about pictures we take at the zoo is just how fake they look. It's clear that those wild beasts are out of place in their surroundings. And since freeing the elephants is both difficult and dangerous, we'll do it in Adobe Photoshop.Inspired by Joe Zammit-Lucia's photographs of endangered animals, we extracted the pachyderm, put it on black, and took out the color for extra drama. As well as this works on the displaced denizens of the Indian subcontinent, it will elevate your housepet portraits just as much.

I'll explain how to do this using three of Photoshop CS3's most powerful new tools, but if you haven't gotten your hands on the newest version yet, do it old-school with your favorite selection method and the Channel Mixer.

To see more of Debbie's Photoshop tips, check out her Dear Debbie blog.

Quick Tips

1. If you're new at the Refine Edge tool (and who isn't?), click the downward-facing arrow next to Description to learn more about it.

2. If you don't want to mess directly with the elephant's color, the new b&w tool is also available as an Adjustment Layer.

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