Is there a way to split a layer based on contiguous area?

So that, for instance, a layer with 20 'islands' of solid colour, separated by a sea of full transparency, would produce 20 new layers for each island?

  • Contagious? A diseased area? I think you may have used the wrong word there. And are you seeking to extract elements based on a break in a continuous field of color or do you just want pieces separated?
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 22:30
  • 2
    @scott - aw, whoops! I actually wanted "contiguous" it seems but yeah, pieces seperated. I finally found a script after searching for a while, here: photoshopscripts.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/split-to-layers
    – Anne Quinn
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 0:20
  • Ah, just saw you found a script to do this right after posting my answer. Glad you were able to find a good solution!
    – Vicki
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 0:26
  • You'd want to select them with maybe the lasso tool and right-click and cut as new layer.
    – Hanna
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


To do this by hand, you could try the following:

  1. With your island layer selected, use the magic wand tool to select one island
  2. Ctrl + J (or CMD + J if you're on a Mac) to create a new layer with the selected pixels copied into it.
  3. Repeat for the rest of your islands.
  • While a good answer, the wand tool will select an object based on its tolerance value for its pixels, the script mentioned in the above comment works exactly as expected! Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 15:39

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