Create a white background for your images in Photoshop

When I took this picture it was on a sheet of white paper. There was no additional lighting and was taken indoors. It was a grey day so there was no sunshine to help out. It was a recipe for disaster but by the power of Greyskull, well, Photoshop, actually, the image was taken from this to the above:

Whether you’re trying to improve the presention of individual items for posting on online shops or to make your blog look cleaner and sharper, the Color Range technique works wonders. (Singing **Flash! Ah-aaa** to myself while typing this).

I removed ALL of the shadows in the second image purely for the purpose of demonstrating how effective the Color Range technique can be. Want to know how it’s done? View or download the tutorial and try it yourself.

Free Create a White Background in Photoshop Tutorial .

Just so as you know that Anglicised spelling is the norm here and my speeeling is verry gud.

I’ve been reading up on taking pictures and staging them to make my blog look pretty. I have a ‘proper’ camera and know Photoshop pretty well. I’ve been using Photoshop (and Illustrator) over ten years now so I should have picked up a thing or two.

I thought I’d share some of the tips with you and you can make of them what you will. I haven’t tried them all but intend to when time allows.

Firstly, there are definitive lists of things to observe, include or fuss about. Just like there are seven signs of aging (female) and five signs of tiredness (male). If you believe the ads…

**As an aside, there is an advert for a company that sells you spectacles with the tagline: “We are defined by what we see”. Really? Unpack it and make sense of it. It’s rubbish.

Adverts try to mesmerise or lull us into some state of false consciousness that suspends or paralyses our critical faculties. Like the skin care products that say ‘clinically proven’. Clinically proven to do what? That is not stated. Illusions of meaning are carefully crafted. Beware the harbinger of the false premise! Think and question! Here endeth today’s rant, lol. **

Anyway, if these ‘definitive’ lists are to be believed there are certain fundamental elements for staging a scene. First find your focus and find ways to direct the eye to that focus by:

  1. Including distinctive shapes into the composition – vectors – lines of shapes and planes that lead towards the subject. For example, position the subject in a natural circle – eg, a spray of flowers behind around the subject (but not so as it looks like they grow out of somebody’s ear or top of the head). I, of course, have a natural halo and aura. (Please, I’m joking!).
  2. Choosing images that have similar  styles so you don’t combine, say, very minimalist images with graphics overload or lots of shots using natural materials like leather, sand, hessian, etc, with shiny plastics. Cohesive imagery are the keywords here. I can’t be any more definitive as it’s like everything – context and purpose dictate what can or is appropriate.

  3. Making sure colours complement  to create the effect and atmosphere or brand you want to achieve.
  4. Ditto pattern and texture.
  5. Including something called ‘needs’. This basically means essential things… (I don’t have a scooby what this means, really.) Food, water, light, comfort – I don’t know. Elements that suggest these things? Certainly not directly pertaining to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs unless they are expressed semiotically using symbolic meaning. Maybe that’s it.
  6. Adding some bling – Photoshop a sparkle, include a shiny trinket or piece of glittery jewellery.
  7. Including botanicals into the scene. Flowers, leaves, flora and fauna. Apparently they add that je ne sais quoi to a composition.

There. You know as much as me about it now.

Taking pictures (these are tips and techniques gleaned from courses, books and some experience while standing on the bunions of giants):

1. Be experimental in with the angle and distance you take pictures from. Include close-ups of whole and partial  areas of the subject. Include wide angles shots and think about taking aerial views and almost horizontal pictures to show surface detail or texture. Take landscape and portrait shots to vary layout and add interest.

2. Good lighting can save hours of editing. Can’t always get it and not all of us have studio lighting. If there’s good, natural light, though, use it.

3. Staging (see above – too many elements to go over again!).

4. My photography books say ‘fill the frame’ – so… fill the frame.

5. Make sure the pictures are clean. I take pictures of crochet and only when I look at the photographs do I finally see the single cat hair on, beside or in the baby booties. Gah.

6. Symmetry is somewhat frowned upon if graphic design advice is anything to go by (which I do), as is having the subject dead-centre. Arrange your picture using the rule of thirds to shift the central focus slightly off-centre.

7. Read up on depth of field and use it to blur the background so as to not distract the eye from the main subject. Or select the area in Photoshop and apply a Gaussian Blur.

8. Use a tripod, especially, if not always in poor light. I have one but often believe I can stand stock-still without the slightest muscle tremor and achieve perfect shots. I am invariably disabused of that belief when I see motion blur although I do wonder if my camera is on the blink first. Thankfully, not. It is me and the proof of the pudding is the end picture. Lesson learned is set up the tripod for picture perfect clarity.

Then what?

Well, a good place to start is to think about where your images are going to end up. If on your blog then you don’t need images that are bigger than the content width of your blog. They can result in slow load times when rendering your web pages. How big is that? Want to know?

Go to your blog, click on the three strip (‘hamburger’) on the browser menu at the top of you page. Click and select ‘Developer’ – to display a drop-down list which includes ‘Inspector’. Click on it and a panel will display at the bottom of the web page.

On the far left you will see an icon, a square with an arrow in its bottom right corner. Click on it then click on your web page – it will show you the structure of the page as defined in HTML and will give you values including ‘content width’ in pixels.

Mine is 739 px wide. Do I size my images up in PSP to this size? No. I’ve never been bothered. But I think I should. I know these things but don’t do them. *Sigh* What a pudding I can be.

By the way, DPI and PPI are not relevant to what the web displays. What is relevant is that they should be 300 PPI if they are to be output in hard copy, ie, printed.

Well, I’m exhausted now and want to go get a coffee and some lunch. Bye for now. I’d love to know if you have any tips or wrinkles you’d like to share.

Reflective Bubbles in Photoshop

It’s time to get some sparkle back in my life. The skies are grey and it’s cold. I’m wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy with hypothermia, and even with the heating on, I’m feeling chilly.

So, sparkles – frizzante – semi-sparkling rainbows to brighten the skies. I’ve been playing with Photoshop today and creating spangly brushes, rainbows and reflective bubbles – want the tutorial? Let me know and like Jean Luc’s orders, I’ll make it so.

Tonight I’m making roasted cauliflower and broccoli soup. I’ll post the recipe and pictures tomorrow (if it turns out well – if it looks like snot and tastes worse, then No I Won’t). If it’s good, I’ll get the killer heels on and dance like You’re So Money-Supermarket Dave and feel EPIC.

Anyway, back to soup. Nothing nicer than a mug of soup and some crusty granary bread on  a damp and shivery day.

Clipping Masks and Rainbows Tutorial

A good while ago I published a tutorial on how to create rainbows in Photoshop. A very simple procedure and quick to do.

I’m publishing it again (though it’s still around but will save you having to search for it). I’ve used some text and a clipping mask to contain a rainbow in a word – obviously, the technique will work for any text and graphic combination.

So, if you want to create a sparkly rainbow, follow the tutorial (download the pdf – it’s free).

Create a rainbow in Photoshop

To contain the rainbow in text using a clipping mask carry on from here.

You can see that the text layer is sitting above the rainbow graphic – this is because I used an upper arc effect from the text options (just showing you). The next screen shot shows you the layer stack order for the clipping mask – the rainbow layer (now helpfully labelled ‘rainbow’!) has been moved above the text layer.  For information, I used a dark stroke to outline the text – you don’t have to but in this instance it gave the text some clearer definition.

  1. Select the top layer – the one with the graphic, making sure the picture is on the layer just beneath – right-click and select ‘Create Clipping Mask’ from the drop-down menu and  – Voilà!

We actually had a rainbow shining gloriously and radiantly in the sky (well, would hardly be in my handbag, would it, lol). Beautiful Irish skies… * sings* ‘when Irish skies are smiling…’Create a rainbow in Photoshop (groan).

Montage Mask Magic

magic_masks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you find the prospect of using even simple masks in Photoshop daunting? They’re easier than you think and are very useful. Add another skill to your Photoshop / Illustrator bag and follow this free tutorial here:

Filled frame clipping mask

Free PDF Instructions: Create a quick gold foil overlay in Photoshop

Here’s a nice Photoshop effect that takes just a few minutes to do. It’s quick and simple and looks tremendous. You don’t have to stick with gold, you can use silver, bronze or other background of your choice. You will need to have a reasonable quality jpeg of the background. If you search with Google, you’ll be spoiled for choice. All you need is Photoshop, a foil (or other background) and you’re good to go.

The Free PDF Instructions are here:

Have fun!

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