How to split up a photo into several individual parts?

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May 7, 2005
I am using Photoshop CS version 8, xp pro (service pack 2), 1 gig ram, 60 gigs free space, nvidia 6800 video card.

I am looking for any advice on how to split up a photograph and put each "new" part into its own layer. For example…. Say i have a photo of a sports car. The car is in a garage. The first thing i do is remove the car from the garage (using my preferred method of using a mask). Now all i have on my layer is the car and only the car. Now i want to edit this car by doing such things as contrast, color, special effects, etc. Well, the car is blue, the wheels are black, the rimms are chrome, and the flames on the sides are yellow. I want to edit these parts individualy with each part on its own layer. So, if i had my way, the layer pallet would have a "body layer", "wheel layer", "chrome layer", and "flame layer". This way i can have complete control over my editing ( like say, using an adjustment layer for each individual wheel).

I became interested in learning a technique for this after seeing an internet site based on editing swimsuit pictures. The site’s small guide on using photoshop to acomplish the task can be found at <>

If the above link does not work you can simple do a google search for IMF Scans (the site is hosted by tripod). Any help in this matter will greatly be appreciated because i believe it would greatly increase my photoshop skills.
May 7, 2005
Yes using layers is the best approach. If you make a mistake the rest of the image is unaffected.

Here’s a couple of shortcuts to get you started:

To separate the various elements onto their own layers simply hit Ctrl+J (layer via copy) after making your selection.

Once you’ve completed your edits, don’t flatten the layers in case you need to do alterations some time in the future. Instead create a new blank layer at the top of the stack, then hit Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E to create a merged copy of all the underlying layers.

Best of luck with the project.

May 7, 2005
Thanks Chris,

I can tell u know what ur doing in photoshop by your response and its good you pass along those shortcuts to me. I will definetly learn them. I especially like the merge tip.

However, im still a little lost on the best way or method to break up the photo. Now you did say "Ctr+J after making your selection". The main point im making is that you mentioned selections.

So, does it mean that using the various "selection tools" to seperate the image is the only real way of accomplishing the task. Perhaps there is another method, say with using masks or a special plug in? I realise the potential layers can bring to editing and i want to get the most out of them.

Again, thaks for your response. And to anyone else who wants to reply it will greatly be appreciated.
May 7, 2005
Think Think: you are asking the correct questions but the answers can only be technical. It’s a bit like (IMHO) Renoir saying how do I get such-and-such a brushstroke, opacity and interaction with color and composition.

There arrives a point where creativity takes over from technicalities (otherwise things like computers would be able to do it without human intervention and they can’t – just yet anyway)

So, like reply to Mindy, learn selection, do a google for as many tutorials as you can find failing that go straight to

The concept I seek you grasp is that selection is tool depended with sub-options govered by 4 square buttons. One of these is to Add to selection and another is to Subtract from selection – contiguous or not is also important.

Now, masks or direct selection?
Each has advantage and/or disadvantage IMHO.

If pushed for time = use the options you are most comfortable with.

Then, over time, increase that range of options so at a push you can make an informed and wise choice and be prepared to make a wrong choice from time to time too. Provided this forms a learning experience or part of one, ou will be on a winner (IMHO) Such is art n’est pas?
May 9, 2005
Well deebs, after reading your post im thinking that there is no "most popular", or "one way" of doing what i want. I suppose I’ll continue looking for tutorials and I’ll check out that site you mentioned. My goal now is to learn a few diff techniques and go from there. It now seems that for every different picture a diff method will be needed.

I’ll experiment…..and once again thanks to all who replied.
May 9, 2005
there is no "most popular", or "one way" of doing what i want.

it’s a forum working hypothosis that there are at least 3 completely different ways to do anything in photoshop! 🙂

I figure if i learn 2, i’m ahead of the game. 😉
John Joslin
May 9, 2005
there are at least 3 completely different ways to do anything in photoshop!

Except lose your Preferences; there are 10 ways to do that and nobody knows what they are 🙂
May 9, 2005
I know of 2… 🙂
May 9, 2005
I am amazed really at the way I can use multiple selection and multiple tools to fine-tune selection. But I guess seasoned users are probably familiar with all those techniques and especially the Add and Subtract from active and even multiple active selections.

In the early days if a selection went off a bit I scrapped and restarted, now it is a lot easier
May 9, 2005

One of my favorite tools for fine tuning a selection is the Quick Mask tool. If you are not familiar with it, it is the icon with the circle inside the rectangle near the bottom of the tool palette.

Make your selection like you normally do. Then click on the Quick Mask. You can also type "Q".

By default, your selection will be transparent and the nonselected parts will be colored. You can change the default and the color by double clicking on the Quick Mask tool.

Use the Eraser tool to expand the transparent area, or the paint, pencil tools to reduce the transparent area.

When you turn off Quick Mask, your changes will be shown by the normal selection lines.

Something you can do in Quick Mask that you cannot do with the direct select and the Magic Wand is to have a selection that isn’t 100% selected or deselected. Using the tools to add or subtract from a mask, you can change the Brush Opacity to achieve a partial selection.
I find that works well for me when blending an edge between different layers.

Like they said, many different ways and work techniques. Try to play with as many of them as you can, then use the ones that work for you.

One recommendation about doing the kind of work you are wanting to do. Always leave the original photo on the bottom layer untouched. That way, if you have a major mess up, you can go down to the original, select what you want and bring it back up to the layer you are working on.


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