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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How To Erase A Background From An Image In Photoshop - Pt. 1


Since I've been messing with the re-design of my site, I've had to learn a few new tricks in Photoshop to create the images and effects that I wanted.  And, I thought that since I was learning all these cool new tricks, I would share them with you.  Take this image for instance.  I'll call it "Stack of Pictures."  I know the background is white, but the background is still part of the picture.  So, if I were to move the image to a darker background, the image would still be framed by the white background.  Instead, I want the foreground image of the Stack of Pictures to be the only part of the image that I use.  Okay, so how to do this in Photoshop? 


There are several ways to erase the background from an image, but I am going to share with you my favorite way to achieve this.  First, click on the Magic Eraser Tool.  I like this tool even better than the Background Eraser Tool sometimes because it doesn't make a mess of the image that you want to preserve in the foreground. 


See the Magic Eraser Tool cursor on the background of our image? - You want to position it over the color on the background that you want to erase - pixels and all.  Then, you want to hold down the Option key and click.   When you hold down the Option key your Magic Eraser Tool will turn into an eyedropper to show you that the position of the cursor is where it will grab the local color.  In this case, the local color of the background is "white" and that is the color of the background that I want to erase.


Next, check the settings of your Magic Eraser Tool.  In the case of the image that I am working on, I set the Tolerance to 10, made sure that Anti-alias and Contiguous are checked, and set my Opacity to 100%.  If you set your Opacity to less than 100%, then your background will not be erased 100%.


Next, place your Magic Eraser Tool over the background and click.  Magic!  Your background, and "just" your background have disappeared, leaving only the perfect outline of the image in the foreground that we wanted to preserve.  Pretty cool, eh?  But, I want to check my work and make sure that the image that remains has clean lines.


So, I click on the Move Tool, grab the image and move it to a darker background.  Since I had not yet created the new background for this image, I just opened a new file in Photoshop that was larger in dimensions than my image of the "Stack of Pictures" and set the background color to be this dark forest green.  It doesn't matter what color the background of your new file is, as long as it was darker than the original white background.  We want to be able to tell if the image was extracted from its original background.  And, as you can see, it was.  Hurray! 


Now here's the kicker.  You've successfully extracted your image from its background and you want to save it, right?  Well, this was my experience, and if you have anything you can add to this tutorial, please pass it on in the comments section!  But, I found that if I saved this image as a .jpg, once again, it will have a white background.  If, however, I save it as a .png, then the image is preserved as you see it here, extracted from its background, and can be used again.  I can also place it over another .jpg image as its background.  On the other hand, if I save it as a .gif, then for some reason it cannot be placed over top of a .jpg image as a new background. 

So there you go.  That's my tuto and I'm stickin' with it.  Of course, if you are a Photoshop guru and have anything to add to this, please pass it on in the comments.  I'm all for learning new ways to do things in Photoshop!




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