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?

Great Expectations

Charles Dickens was an Englishman, social critic and author of some of the world’s most well-known fiction stories and hailed as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period.  Great Expectations was set in 1812 and follows the life of Pip, an orphan child who is on an amazing journey of personal growth and character development to become a proper gentleman. Uh, Yvonne…What in the world does this have to do with the business industry?  Don’t give up on me yet… The original ending of the book was later revised based on another editorial critic who said that its predecessor was far too sad.  So with ego slightly bruised, Dickens rewrote it (Yeah, someone asked Charles Dickens to rewrite one of the most renowned literary pieces in history!) so that Pip marries Estella instead of the original ending which had them passing each other on the street with no apparent love or future in sight.  It was then hailed as one of the most brilliant stories and influential literary pieces to be held in ones hands before best-seller lists existed.

Fast forward to 2012. You’ve got this nice small/medium-sized business that’s been running pretty well for several years but with the current “recession” in full swing, you’ve hit a bit of a speed bump (or maybe several nails in 3 tires).  You’re sales are down and Abe Lincoln is the reflection of your ROI.  You drive to your office  wondering if sooner than later your doors will look like one of many that have “Now Leasing” over the door instead of your company sign above it.  So what’s a business owner to do when you feel like you can’t spare a nickel, let alone a check with more than (2) 0’s to boost your business and the bottom line?  Rethink and re-strategize.  Let’s learn from that earlier Dickens example.

Dickens’ Great Expectations

Business in Jeopardy

An established masterpiece of literature that already had a solid reputation & some notable success A well-established but slowly declining   business with a seemingly solid clientele but not producing an adequate profit   margin. Needing to resort to downsizing personnel, departments or “doing away with” vital parts of your business because of funding.
An outside critic thought he could make it better Believe it or not, an outside source sometimes can have the best perspective of what your business needs to survive.  Sometimes when we’re too close to it, we need a lens adjustment to see outside of what we have been doing and expand our perspective outside of “what we already know”.
Considered another outcome. The change embraced and   implemented helped the book become one of the greatest among classical literature and Dickens was hailed as a literary genius. Maybe it’s a website if you don’t have one.  Maybe it’s
rebranding and testing the market with a new look/feel for your online and print marketing materials.  Strategize as if it’s business warfare and the life of your business depends on it.  Most times how we start is not always how we finish and it’s ok to embrace that.  Oftentimes that is the sweetest success and thus the story of getting there!

Marketing Strategies bullseyeRethink and re-strategize to meet the goal(s) at hand! Don’t be afraid to shift the paradigm or how you think about your business and its road to success!

I’m sure Dickens didn’t expect anyone to come along and tweak his masterpiece but surprisingly, he was open to the idea that someone may just have a better way.  The Great Expectations Pip had, were constantly evolving with every ebb and flow of life and unforeseen circumstance.  For the sake of the novels success, Dickens was forced to consider the revision if he wanted to see Great Expectations become all that it deserved to be and that which he desired.

What are you willing to do to achieve the Great Expectations you have for your masterpiece?

Measuring ROI From Social Media

Social Media BandwagonSearch the Internet about social media, and you’ll find a host of results on how to use it, what mediums are out there, making money with it, and how to use it best.  You’ve read all about Twitter, than Twitter makes updates and you don’t know where to begin. Same thing with Facebook. You hear all about how many millions of users are using it, yet you can’t seem to get your Fanpage past 50 fans. Let me tell you, they’re ever changing sometimes week to week, so if you’re not understanding them now, it could be harder to find the relevance to your bottom line.

Before I get into the return on your investment with social media, I’d like to first talk about the various mediums and some basic effectiveness. If you think that all it takes to be successful in social media is just a few minutes a day with thoughtful posts of inspirational quotes mixed with posts about your website, sales, and products; you’re seriously mistaken.  Don’t get into social media with the intent on trying to sell. You’ll quickly become frustrated with the lack of interactions and see it as a one way conversation.

Twitter is great for short conversations throughout the day. You can jump in any active conversation, trending topic, or subject. Its real-time so the chances of hearing back from someone minutes after your replies are quite high.

Facebook Fan Pages are best with fewer posts each day. Another words, you may come up with a great post about a subject, then concentrate on following up with your fans as they post comments to your original post.

Linked In has so many avenues to engage with people, you can literally spend hours on that site and forego any actual productivity. From answering questions, to posting in groups, to connecting with old colleagues or new prospective clients; there’s plenty to keep you busy.

YouTube can almost be seen as one directional since you are mostly posting videos. However that’s just the beginning. Once posted, you’ll have the opportunity to follow along with the viewers feedback via the comments below your video. So post a great instructional video and you’re likely to get comments and questions for more information or encouraging words to post more videos.

Return on Investment. Well this is a hot button that seems to change often. At first I used to say that there was no money in social media. Whatever efforts you put in, you wouldn’t find the same in profits. I’m starting to change my stance on that because I’ve learned that you can’t use social media to sell. At least not blatantly. What I mean is, think of it as a networking meeting. You can’t just walk into a room full of people screaming to the top of your lungs about the sales and services you provide. Instead you walk in and court each person you make eye contact with. You meet people and ask who they are, what they do, where they’re from; then engage in light conversation. Maybe they sound interested (follow) in what you do, but not enough to be compelled to purchase something from you on the spot. However what you say about your industry and brand intrigues them to keep you in mind (comment/@reply) to tell other people about. You leave them with a great impression (post) and move on to meet someone else. The more people you meet, they more impressions you make. With the increase in impressions, the more traffic your website and business phone starts to get. You then start to become an authority on a subject matter. When that happens more people start to pay attention to what you say and post. And now because you’re respected, when you do offer a special or a sale (not often) they share your offer with others or purchase some for themselves. You couple all of that with analytics to gauge where you were most influential each day of the month and you replicate your best efforts the following month. All while keeping track of your lead performance, site traffic, and other metrics.

I know this sounds like a lot; and to be honest it’s all of this and more. Sure anyone can do this. Not everyone will be as effective or as diligent so choose your mediums and efforts wisely. The worse thing you can do is start and abruptly stop.

Have some other tips on social media and how to bank more for your buck? Please share in the comments below.