This is the image we will be working with for this example and removing the background from using channels!:

11.jpg

Step 1:

The first step is to ensure that the image you’re working with is on a new layer, as shown in the following image:

21.jpg

Step 2:

Click on the “Channels” tab in your Layers Palette and determine which color channel best represents the area we want to capture. Shown in the image here from top to bottom, you can see the red, blue, and green channels for this image. It’s obvious that the red channel contains the most information for capturing the flame – click that layer, and the image you’re working with will change to show the channels values:

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Step 3:

Once you have found the correct channel to work with for your image, click and drag it down onto the “New Layer” icon as shown in the example here:

41.jpg

Step 4:

It will create a duplicate of that layer, but it is now used as an “Alpha Channel” selection layer (this will make more sense soon). Re-name the layer to “ALPHA”:

51.jpg

Step 5:

-This is a MAJOR STEP, PAY ATTENTION-
Everything that is BLACK on this ALPHA layer will be deleted, keep this in mind! If there is anything in the image that you want gone, make sure to take out the paintbrush and paint black over the top of it (MAKE SURE that you’re doing this with the ALPHA layer selected still). In my example here, i am painting over the top of a smaller flame:

6.jpg

Step 6:

Once that is done, go up to the menu and open the “Select” menu, then go down to the bottom and choose “Load Selection” – you will get the following window. Drop down the “Channel” list and choose ALPHA, then make sure to tick the box underneath it saying “Invert” (This will make sure you’re not deleting the FLAME, but everything else except that object.) Press OK:

7.jpg

Step 7:

Your image will now look like this, with the ‘Marching Ants’ selection showing that all the black is selected:

8.jpg

Step 8:

Now simply hit the delete key and it will delete all of the selected area, leaving you with just the flame on its own layer, and the background layer underneath it:

9.jpg

Step 9:

To test out that it worked okay, insert an image UNDERNEATH the layer that the flame is on – it should work like this:

ten.jpg

Any suggestions, ideas? Feel free to comment on this article!

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