The Magic Extractor works much the same way as the Background Eraser tool: both provide a way to remove an unwanted background image while preserving a foreground image floating on a transparent layer. The Magic Extractor distinguishes itself with speed and added control. Rather than using the Background Eraser tool's method, which requires you to painstakingly trace around a foreground image, the Magic Extractor works by using brushes to mark and identify first the foreground image that you want to save, and then the background image that you want to delete (Figure 8.79). A set of additional tools helps you to fine-tune your foreground and background selections, and a number of options are available for preview and for final touch-up.
Figure 8.79. Use the Magic Extractor dialog box to identify the foreground and background areas of an image, and then delete an unwanted background.
To use the Magic Extractor tool
From the Image menu, choose Magic Extractor to open the Magic Extractor dialog box (Figure 8.80).
Figure 8.80. Open the Magic Extractor dialog box from the Image menu.
From the tool area on the left side of the dialog box, select the Foreground Brush tool (Figure 8.81).
Figure 8.81. The Magic Extractor tool set.
Use the brush Size slider, if necessary, to adjust the size of your brush, and then use the brush to mark the foreground area of the imagethe area of the image that you want to preserve.
You can mark the foreground with a series of either dots or scribbles, or a combination of the two. The idea is to use the brush to get a good cross sampling of all the different pixel colors and tones in the foreground (Figure 8.82).
Figure 8.82. Identify the foreground area with a series of dots and scribbles.
Select the Background Brush tool, and in the same manner, mark the background area of the imagethe area of the image that you want to remove.
Click the Preview button to see the results of your work (Figure 8.83).
Figure 8.83. Click Preview to see the changes you've made to your image in the preview window.
Use the Zoom and Hand tools to move through the preview window and to get a closer look at the transitions between the foreground image and the transparent background.
If necessary, use one of the touch-up tools to modify or clean up the transitions between the foreground image and background:
The Add to Selection tool allows you to paint back in areas of the foreground image that may have been mistakenly removed along with the background.
The Point Eraser tool removes portions of marks you've made with either the Foreground or Background Brush tools. When you remove a portion of a mark from the background area, for instance, you're telling the Magic Extractor that you don't want to erase pixels of a particular tonal or color range.
The Remove from Selection tool works like an eraser to remove areas of the foreground image.
The Smoothing Brush softens the transition between the foreground image and transparent background by adding a halo of deleted background color to the edge of the foreground image.
If necessary, use the options in the Touch Up area of the dialog box to further refine the foreground image (Figure 8.84).
Figure 8.84. Touch Up options give you the ability to soften the edge of your foreground image by feathering; fill in holes that may have been created when using the Foreground and Background brushes; and remove a halo of background color along the edge of a foreground image by applying Defringe.
Click OK to apply your changes and close the Magic Extractor dialog box.
Within the Magic Extractor dialog box, you can only Undo (Ctrl+Z) the action of two tools: the Remove from Selection tool and the Smoothing Brush tool. But if you're not happy with the results you're getting, you can start over from scratch by either clicking the Reset or Cancel buttons. Clicking the Reset button will undo every action in the Preview window, but will leave the dialog box open, whereas clicking Cancel will exit the dialog box altogether without applying any changes to your image.