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Using Photoshop’s Magic Wand Tool


In this article we are going to remove the background of our image. There are several ways of doing this using Photoshop. Depending on the background and the part of the image you want extracted, will play a factor in your choice.

The coin in this picture needs to first be copied without the background. It will then be pasted into a new file with a transparent background. Some additional clean up of the background will need to be done. The coin also needs to be rotated 90 degrees clockwise so the horse and rider are upright. A drop shadow will be added to give it a little dimension, and then saved as both Photoshop and PNG files -- Photoshop so, if necessary, changes can be made, and PNG to keep the transparent background while importing it into other programs.

In this picture you can see that I used the Magic Wand Tool from the tool bar. I chose this tool because the background is pretty much the same color. Once the magic wand is selected, hold the magic wand cursor over anywhere in the background and click on it. After selecting the background, you will see moving dashed lines around the coin as well as the border of the image. The little red circle is pointing out a spot in the background that is lighter than the rest of the background. There are actually many of these but the others are smaller and harder to detect.

One thing that can be done is to hold down the shift key and using the magic wand cursor, click on every little speck that you can find. You will discover it gets a little difficult to line up the middle of the wand with those little specks. Here is another way of doing it.

After selecting the background, go to the Select drop down menu and select Inverse. This will now select the coin and any of those lighter spots in the background. Copy this to the pasteboard. Under File select New, type in a name for the file, make sure at the bottom of the window that Transparent is checked under Contents. The size of the image is already filled in to the size of what has been copied. Click Okay.

On the screen a new blank file will open. The transparent background in Photoshop looks like a white and gray checkerboard. Paste your image into the new file. Once pasted, open your Layers window if it is not already open. You can do this by selecting Layers from the Window drop down menu. Click on the Add a layer style button and then select Stroke at the bottom of the menu. A new window will open; the default stroke color is red. Click okay and then look at your image.

All those little red dots are spots in the background of your image. Using the eraser tool, erase all the red marks, except for the one around the coin. Actually, you are erasing the background spots, and as you erase them the Stroke around them disappears also. After all the red dots are removed, go back and click the Add a layer style button on the Layer menu and deselect stroke. The red line around your coin is removed.

To get the image to the correct orientation, under the Image drop down menu, select Rotate Canvas then select 90°CW. Using your crop tool, or the Rectangular Marquee Tool, draw a box around the coin, then select Crop under Image. Lastly, go back to your Layers window and add a drop shadow by using the Add a layer style button. Notice in the image where the shiniest side of the coin is and adjust the angle of the light within the Drop Shadow box so the light is hitting the right side of the coin and the shadow falls accordingly.

The top of the last image is the coin in Photoshop with a transparent background. Saving as a Photoshop or PNG file will preserve the transparent background, so when you image is placed against a different color background, the background will show through. The image to the right was saved as a JPEG file and has a white background around it. This is fine is you are going to have a white background anyway. But if you want the coin to stand alone without the white box around it, a PNG file is the way to go.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Laura Nunn. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Laura Nunn. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Laura Nunn for details.

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