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Removing background in complex images

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I often work with complex images on complex/colored backgrounds (usually photos). I want to get rid of the backgrounds, i.e., make them transparent. I do know the basic way of doing this - using the magic wand to select out the image from the backgound, etc. I do have the feather plugin also.

However, when the image has multiple areas of complex borders (colors very close to background, subtle shadings, very irregular lines, etc), it can become very difficult to separate the image without creating a new border that looks artificial.

Is there another way? Any thought are appreciated.

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Swing by http://searchpaint.net and take a look for an awesome tutorial called "Cutting out images the EASY way." It's fantastic.


The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior... A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
Amy: But how did it end up in there?
The Doctor: You know fairy tales. A good wizard tricked it.
River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.

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