Lifting outlines in photoshop

Discussion in 'Software' started by Darwin, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. Darwin

    Darwin Member

    Here is the technique I use with Photoshop for "lifting" the part outlines using Photoshop that doesn't require knowledge of how to use layers.

    1. Open the image you want to work with.

    2. Select the "magic wand" selector tool. Set the tolerance to as small a number as you can without eliminating too much of the outlines you want. Since I prefer the sharpest (thinnest) outlines I can get (one pixel wide), I first overdraw the outlines in a color not used elsewhere in the model and that contrasts well with the original outline color. I usually use CursorArt's Image Forge program for the drawing operations. Doing this allows me to chose a tolerance value of 1 (meaning only the exact color I used to overdraw will be selected). If you don't want the hassle of overdrawing, you may have to experiment a bit with the tolerance setting. Too small, and you will start loosing part of the outline you are lifting. Too large, and you start capturing some stuff from the image you didn't really want.

    3. Move the magic wand cursor onto the line color you want to lift and left-click.

    4. Open the selector menu (you can do this by right-clicking, or move the cursor up to the menu bar) and click on "similar".

    5. Check the image to see how much of the image is selected. If areas other than the outlines are selected, you might try decreasing the selection tolerance; if unselected gaps appear in the lines you are wanting to lift, try increasing the selection tolerance.

    6. When you have the "best fit" for your selection, open the Edit menu and select "cut."

    7. Open the "File" menu and select "New." When the dialog box opens, click OK.

    8. Open the "Edit" menu and select "Paste." The lifted outlines should appear in the new window.

    9. Open the "Layers" menu and select "Merge Layers". (This allows you to directly save in original file format of the image rather than in paintshop format. This is an optional step, since you can change file formats in the save dialog box, or you might just want to keep everything in the paintshop file format.)

    10. Open the "Image" menu and select "Canvas Size." Increase the height and width values as desired to give some margin around the new image. (Again, an optional step....I feel a bit more comfortable with a bit of margin around the part outline during the repainting process.)

    11. Open the "File" menu and save the outline image for later use (repainting, etc.)

    I've found that when the outline image is reopened, a bit of minor cleanup is needed to remove some "near background" color-value pixels in close proximity (within a couple of pixels) to the lifted outlines. You are now ready to modify the outlines or do your repaint. I hope this helps someone out beats hell out of brute-force, pixel-by-pixel erasing of all the stuff you didn't want. There is probably a more elegant way of arriving at the outline using layers, but my Paintshop proficiency isn't that far yet.
  2. Darwin

    Darwin Member

    :oops: :oops: :oops: One of those "doh" moments. After putting in some thought about the way I was going about it, there is a far easier way. Change step six to "Once you are happy with the fit, open the Selection menu and click on Inverse, then open the Edit menu and select Cut." Then you can go directly to the saving the outline file for future editing. :oops: :oops: :oops:

    I'm surprised no one reading picked up on that.
  3. rickstef

    rickstef Guest

    i would have, if i understood what was going on

    but that is my ignorance

    on the other hand i can refer to this when i try to do what you are working on.

  4. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    Knew you'd get around to it..., this is one of Photoshop's most powerful commands useful in many situations.


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