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Three Ways to Isolate Color

(February 2009) posted on Fri Feb 20, 2009

Determining the best way to separate images in Photoshop can be a challenging decision. This month, Trimingham narrows the playing field with three useful approaches to color separation.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Once the high-contrast edge is created, The Magic Wand tool is a perfect choice for making a selection from this extra layer in the black area of the guitar shape. This tool can also work well to create selections inside of shapes, as long as the color values and hues inside the shape are similar. The best way to work with the Magic Wand tool when selecting a group of colored pixels is to be persistent and willing to use the undo command a lot and reset the tolerance levels until you find just the right number.

A theme runs through all of the methods listed in this article—and that concept is to avoid creating complex paths for selections in every way possible. Creating paths is a painfully slow process that can drag things out, especially when the artwork has really complex edges. Screen printing usually offers a simple way to accomplish the goal of isolating a color for separation without doubling the time with slow path creation.

The Color Range tool

Many high-end separators hold a derogatory view of the Color Range command dialog. While it may be true that the Color Range tool has its limitations, it is still a very strong option in a separator’s arsenal. The most important thing to remember about this particular tool is that a skilled operator can refine the selection several different ways. It’s not a point-and-click style of color selection.


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