How To Remove The Background Of An Image Using Photoshop

Have you ever wondered how some websites are able to integrate images so seamlessly with the background of the page that they just blend in?

Most of those websites accomplish this by removing the original background of the image and either making it transparent (see-through) or changing it to another color or another background all-together. It’s all matched to the theme of the website.

For example, notice the pastor and elder of the First Church of the Living God website (created by Design Theory) in the image below. They blend right in with the clouds in the background.

Today, I will be showing you how to remove the background of an image easily and quickly with Adobe Photoshop.

* Before you start, make sure you have opened an image in Photoshop (File > Open) *

Step 1: Select the Magic Wand Tool

Select the Magic Wand tool, located in the left menu bar.

Step 2: Configure the Magic Wand Tool

Once you have selected the Magic Wand tool, you will need to configure it using the options located near the top menu bar. For basic background removal, tolerance is the only option you need to concern yourself with in the Magic Wand configuration options. Tolerance determines how closely to match colors, and a higher tolerance means a larger selection. For this example, I used a value of 70 for tolerance because if you use anything lower you will get an ugly jagged-edged blue border around the image.

Step 3: Select the Background with the Magic Wand Tool

Now that you have selected the Magic Wand tool and configured its tolerance level, you will need to select the background in the image. Click anywhere in the background of the image and the Magic Wand will automatically detect the colors of the image, and, if there aren’t too many different colors in the image, it will detect the background. Now you see why they call it the “Magic” Wand! In this case, the background is almost a solid blue so the Magic Wand has no trouble detecting the background, and it only takes one click. If the background is not solid, or is busier than the background in this particular example, you will have to hold the shift key while you click on each color that is part of the background (Hold shift + left click). This is a basic tutorial, however, so I won’t be diving into how to do that now.

Step 4: Delete the Background

Now that you have selected the Magic Wand tool, set its tolerance level and selected the background, you simply hit the delete key and voila, no background! You are now free to use this image with just about any background you can think of.

Here is an example of what I did with my tiger:

As you can see, I replaced the background with a solid black color and added some text of a company I made up. This is an example of how you could implement this tiger picture as a logo/header element on your website. There are a lot of other ways to use this skill to make your websites look very professional and seamless.

If you have this skill and use it for your own professional application, please share your experience. If not, was this tutorial helpful to you?

Trouble landing clients?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that the lovey-dovey mood, which Valentine’s Day brings has come and went, I start wondering what can I do to catch the wanted client who is still passing me by.  Do you ever wonder what makes a client choose one designer over another? There are some big lies out there on how to get a client, but there are some exciting facts that show what clients really want from a designer.

“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth”.  FDR

Lies, myths and false statements

It’s important to understand a few myths we as designers have come to believe about being hired by a client.

Clients only want experience

Designers (especially recently graduated) think they don’t have a chance to be hired by a client because they have no real experience. Don’t let this lie stop you from finding great clients who are looking for a young, fresh approach to their design process.

A lot of clients would prefer to hire someone they feel has a lot to learn, rather than, someone who is set in their stubborn ways.

Clients hire designers who have a great portfolio

Similar to the first lie, a lot of naive designers think that unless they have a vast portfolio, no client is  going to hire them.

In fact, it’s the opposite.  Choose a few really strong projects, highlight them effectively in a portfolio, and show them off with pride. If you do this right, a smart client will hire you.

Clients only hire cheap designers

Most designers feel like they have to have the best bargain in order for clients to hire them.  The truth is, most clients are willing to pay a little more for quality designs.  Most clients are also willing to pay more money for a designer who is easy and enjoyable to work with.

Find ways to add quality to your client/designer relationship and you won’t have to lower your prices in order to get hired.

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. Galileo Galilei

Facts, truths and real statements

 Clients hire responsible and easy to work with designers

Clients are usually more interested in the working relationship they will have with you than almost anything else.  If they can’t work with you, if you won’t listen to them, or if you’re rude, they won’t care how great your designs look; you’ll never get hired.

Make sure you present yourself as a responsible and agreeable person, that way you’ll be more likely to get hired.

Clients wants designers who are respectful

You can have your own opinion, but when you intentionally insult, degrade, or talk down to your clients, you’ll quickly have a one-way ticket to unemployment.

Clients look for designers who respect their opinions. Be respectful.

Clients look for designers with the skills needed to complete their project well

You may not be the best designer in the world,  but your potential clients may not be looking for that.  They are looking for someone who possesses the skills necessary to complete the job well and on time.

That doesn’t just include design skills or a fancy portfolio either. They are looking for someone with a good work ethic, a personable attitude, great project management skills, and superb people skills.

These are some lies and facts of what clients want from a designer.  What are some other pointers that will guide us to reach more clients, effectively?

What other tips and pointers would you add to this list? If you were a client, what would you look for in a designer?

I love to KISS!

We are in February and my friends like to call it the “month of love”; I guess that’s why I feel like talking about KISS.  My husband tries to use it all the time and lately I found myself applying KISS to most of my designs.  You don’t know how to?  It’s basic, just Keep It Simple S(weetheart)…naaaa, Keep It Simple Stupid!

As graphic designers we should apply this rule for many reasons, but the most important, is for our own mental health.

 

Let me show you why I love to KISS:

 

Communication

Graphic design is a form of creative communication and KISS is the key ingredient of communication.  When you speak with fewer words, usually your point is more clearly addressed and when you design with fewer elements your message does not get lost by everything else going on.

The moment you have to explain your design to anyone, the whole purpose of creating it is lost.

Google

Google is a great example of KISS.  As one of the biggest companies, they simply have a logo above their search box on a blank white page; as simple as it gets.

Being Different

There is plenty of advertising clutter out there and if you’re trying to stand out amidst all the colors, flashy images and more, then you need to do something different, you need to KISS.

KISS Sells

When everyone’s trying to be a pioneer, they are overlooking the primary reason for their designs and creativity –  to sell.  If your product doesn’t sell, an award winning design will get you nowhere.  You can have the coolest business cards and the craziest letterheads, but if they don’t match your company’s image, it means nothing.

Since all of this is completely true and despite their apparent simplicity, effective graphic design is not created randomly or by chance.  When designs are simple they are well created – they last indefinitely.

“Any fool can make things complicated, but it takes a genius to make things simple”  E.F. Schumacher

In this month and for the rest of the year, how will you KISS?

Submit: Confessions of a Designer

Ok we’re calling out for those funny times of your design careers that something may have come up, a situation, a mistake, anything that you’d like to confess. Could be anonymous if you like. Please send all of your stories (quick or long) to confess@jpdesigntheory.com

 

Confession booth design by Arik Levy

Sketching can take your designs to another level

Technology is ruling the world, that’s been evident for a long time now (if it doesn’t already). Which leave the good old pen and paper forgotten in the attic.

In this article I will address why you should turn off your computer, put away your tablet, and go back to the basics during your design process, at the same time you will be provided with some tips on how to get started in effective sketching.

Why should you sketch?

When you start a project, there’s a tendency to automatically start coming up with various ideas. These ideas may seem great, but there’s a big chance that your first ideas are pretty obvious.
Sketching lets you get all the obvious ideas out of the way, so you can start coming up with interesting, more innovative designs. Plus, you never know what will inspire you – it could be one of those obvious sketches that spark a great idea.

You can sketch where ever you are

Taking a sketchbook and a pen is even more convenient than carrying your laptop. You might end up finding yourself in more interesting areas like the beach or a  park, as well as museums and subways.  You will also be exposing yourself to different environments, which will inspire your designs and bring you new ideas.

Find the artist in you

There’s something about holding a pencil in your hand that activates your creativity in a much different way than holding a mouse. When you get used, the movements of your hand become much more fluid and it becomes really easy and natural. You may also start seeing some ‘artistic’ influences in your design work.
The more you practice, the better you will become at sketching.

Get in touch with your designs

For me, one of the most important benefits of sketching is that it gets you in touch with your design work on a whole new level. By spending so much time developing a solid concept, you have a stronger understanding of the elements that go into your design.

Let’s sketch!

Word lists
These come very handy when you’re starting a new project, or completely stuck with one you’ve been working on for a while. With word lists you basically list every possible word that’s related to the subject of your project. When I use these for my projects, I first come up with all the words I can think of, then circle the best ones and create sketches of them to get things going.

Draw, it doesn’t matter what, just draw something
Often, facing a blank page can be a bit intimidating. It’s hard to know where to start and what you’re supposed to sketch.

Just sketch something!

It doesn’t matter. Just let your mind and your hand wander together.  As long as you’re sketching something, you’re on the right track to coming up with your next great design. Don’t forget that your sketches don’t have to be the a piece of art. You don’t need to fall into the perfection trap…every ‘mistake’ you make is really an opportunity to get better and learn.

Remember this: no one has to see your sketches, so don’t be shy!

Sketch out of the box
I try to designate specific sketchbooks for specific things. “This will be the sketchbook for these designs and that one for these other sketches” Unfortunately (well, maybe it’s not unfortunate), it doesn’t always happen that way.

Sketch anywhere and everywhere. Ideas come to us at unpredictable times, and in unpredictable places. It’s hard to keep track of which sketchbook is for what, and which one you’re supposed to be carrying around. That’s why you should use whatever’s available, even napkins.

Free time
To start falling in love with it try sketching in your free time, too. Sketch things for fun, big things, tall things, buildings, clocks, fluffy animals.

Be creative
Find what works best for you. Try using different tools like pens, pencils, watercolors, charcoal, and chalk as well as different surfaces. Use ones with which you feel you can express yourself in the best possible way and you enjoy most. The more fun you make this for yourself, the easier it will be to stick to it.

In times of where a pencil sounds like an obsolete tool, do you still make time for sketching before your designs?  If so, what are your techniques?  If not, would you try it?