Adobe Photoshop CS6 – Background Eraser Tool

Remove a background with Photoshop Background Eraser Tool


Sometimes you take a photo that is great – minus the background.  The background just ruins your picture.  Photoshop’s Background Eraser Tool is awesome. Here is an image that I would like to do something with, but the background has to go.  Here are the steps I used to fix my awesome cowgirl’s photograph, while keeping her hair realistic:

  1. Cmd or Ctrl J to create a new layer.
  2. Go into the drop down for the Eraser Tool (E), and choose Background Eraser Tool.
  3. Up in the Options Bar, go into the brush presets and bring to brush hardness level to about 95% to soften it just a little.
  4. Choose the second option (out of three) to Once for the Sampling method.  The first one is for Continuous, the third is Background Swatch. The Sampling controls how often Photoshop looks at the color and decides what to erase.  Once makes the erasing color one time and will erase pixels that match it.
  5. The Limits menu default is always set to Contiguous, but we want to choose Discontiguous, which works the best to erase similar color through hair.
  6. Turn on Protect Foreground Color and then Option-click or Alt-click a strand of hair.
  7. Now start to erase the background by moving the mouse’s crosshairs to touch only the pixels you want to erase.  Use a really big brush for soft areas, where the background peeks through strands of hair, and a small brush for hard edges around clothes and shoes.  Of course, use the bracket keys to increase or decrease your brushes size.  Keep Sampling the foreground colors to ensure Photoshop knows what areas of the background you want to erase.
  8. Adjust the Tolerance levels in the Options Bar if you aren’t getting the proper results.  Lower it if it erasing too much.
  9. Release the mouse often.  Cmd or Ctrl Z will undo a spot.
  10. Once you get a clean outline around the subject, just use the Normal Eraser Tool to get rid of the rest of the image, or use a Selection Tool around the subject, Inverse it, and delete what is left of the image.
  11. Have fun adding your subject to another image.

I have always wanted to say, “this isn’t my first rodeo”, however, I have never been to a rodeo, and neither has my little cowgirl, but we can always pretend.

Credit for the background image goes to which I found on Flickr.



Startup Georgia at Hypepotamus – Jermaine Dupri tells how So So Def got its start…..

Startup Rally 2013

One part startup exposition, one part summer internship fair, and one part launch of Startup Georgia – startup led, statewide initiative to raise the profile of Georgia startups as part of the national network Startup America Partnership.

Featuring – Jermaine Dupri, CEO of So So Def Recordings, Scott Case, co-founder & CTO of Priceline, and over 100 startups exhibiting.

What are the odds that a Georgia street/country kid would use college students from Emory University to start his company?  Although he started his tremendous success story by finding the best party thrower at Emory, he admits it was a lot of hard work, a lot of hit and miss.  The party thrower is now manager to many artists, including, Justin Bieber.

He spoke about his $200,000 website that had a lot of moving parts, but was virtually invisible in search engines.  He started a free blog and received more hits than his official website!  He enjoyed the ability to communicate with his fans, so his new venture, Global is his personal social networking site.  He is into tech now, and his new site is very nice – another one of his visions.

Jermaine Dupri is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of So So Def Recordings at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta.  The All-Star Anniversary concert is on Saturday, February 23, 2013.  Tickets at

A number of soon-to-be well known entrepreneurs spoke about their vision.  Students met with startups from multiple sectors and industries to find out about summer internships.  Developers, computer science, designers, business students, and all majors are encouraged to explore the opportunities available to them right here in Atlanta.

Some of these ventures include:

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Check out the lineup of next generation companies blossoming in Atlanta at Hypepotamus Startup Rally.


11111-1-2When you convert your PNG files, your meta data and keywords are stored inside. The Portable Network Graphic format was created in 1995 when Unisys and CompuServe officially announced that programs using GIFs would require royalties because of the patent on the LZW compression method using GIF.

The best thing about PNG files for digital photographers is that they can be smaller in file size and preserve transparency.  PNG’s have proven to be the best for gradients. You can categorize and add keywords.  The danger is that there is a problem with the loss of your meta data when the image is opened with indifferent software. Your information can easily get lost.

Comparison to JPEG

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) format can produce a smaller file than PNG for photographic (and photo-like) images, since JPEG uses a lossy encoding method specifically designed for photographic image data, which is typically dominated by soft, low-contrast transitions, and an amount of noise or similar irregular structures. Using PNG instead of a high-quality JPEG for such images would result in a large increase in filesize with negligible gain in quality. By contrast, when storing images that contain text, line art, or graphics – images with sharp transitions and large areas of solid color – the PNG format can compress image data more than JPEG can, and without the noticeable visual artifacts which JPEG produces around high-contrast areas. Where an image contains both sharp transitions and photographic parts, a choice must be made between the two effects. JPEG does not support transparency.

Because JPEG uses lossy compression, it suffers from generation loss, where repeatedly encoding and decoding an image progressively loses information and degrades the image. Because PNG is lossless, it is a suitable format for storing images to be edited. While PNG is reasonably efficient when compressing photographic images, there are lossless compression formats designed specifically for photographic images, lossless JPEG 2000 and Adobe DNG (Digital negative) for example. However these formats are either not widely supported or proprietary. An image can be saved into JPEG format for distribution so that the single pass of JPEG encoding will not noticeably degrade the image.
The PNG specification does not include a standard for embedded Exif image data from sources such as digital cameras. TIFF, JPEG 2000, and DNG support EXIF data.
Early web browsers did not support PNG images; JPEG and GIF were the main image formats. JPEG was commonly used when exporting images containing gradients for web pages, because of GIF’s limited color depth. However, JPEG compression causes a gradient to blur slightly. A PNG file will reproduce a gradient as accurately as possible for a given bit depth, while keeping the file size small. PNG became the optimal choice for small gradient images as web browser support for the format improved.


JPEG-LS is a “near-lossless” image format far less widely known and supported than the other lossy JPEG format discussed above. It is directly comparable with PNG.  On the Waterloo Repertoire ColorSet, a standard set of test images (unrelated to the JPEG-LS conformance test set), JPEG-LS generally performs better than PNG, by 10–15%, but on some images, PNG performs substantially better, on the order of 50–75%.  Thus, if both of these formats are options and file size is an important criterion, they should both be considered, depending on the image.


Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) is a format that incorporates an extremely wide range of options. While this makes TIFF useful as a generic format for interchange between professional image editing applications, it makes adding support for it to applications a much bigger task and so it has little support in applications not concerned with image manipulation (such as web browsers). It also means that many applications can read only a subset of TIFF types, creating more potential user confusion.

There is a TIFF variant that uses the same compression algorithm as PNG uses, but it is not supported by many proprietary programs. TIFF also offers special-purpose lossless compression algorithms  which can compress bilevel images (e.g., faxes or black-and-white text) better than PNG’s compression algorithm.  I need to find out more about why we would use TIFF files and plan to find out in an upcoming class.


The PNG format is widely supported by graphics programs, including Adobe Photoshop Corel ‘s Photo-Paint and Paint Shop Pro, the GIMPGraphicConverterHelicon FilterInkscape,IrfanViewPixel image editorPaint.NET and Xara Photo & Graphic Designer and many others. Some programs bundled with popular operating systems which support PNG include Microsoft’s Paint and Apple’s iPhoto and Preview, with the GIMP also often being bundled with popular distributions.

Adobe Fireworks (formerly Macromedia) uses PNG as its native file format, allowing other image editors and preview utilities to view the flattened image. However, Fireworks by default also stores meta data for layers, animation, vector data, text and effects. Such files should not be distributed directly. Fireworks can instead export the image as an optimized PNG without the extra meta data for use on web pages, etc.

File size and optimization software

PNG file size can vary significantly depending on how it is encoded and compressed; this is discussed and a number of tips are given in PNG: The Definitive Guide.


Compared to GIF files, a PNG file with the same information (256 colors, no ancillary chunks/metadata), compressed by an effective compressor will normally be smaller than GIF. Depending on the file and the compressor, PNG may range from somewhat smaller (10%) to significantly smaller (50%) to somewhat larger (5%), but is rarely significantly larger for large images. This is attributed to the performance of PNG’s DEFLATE compared to GIF’s LZW, and because the added precompression layer of PNG’s predictive filters take account of the 2-dimensional image structure to further compress files; as filtered data encodes differences between pixels, they will tend to cluster closer to 0, rather than being spread across all possible values, and thus be more easily compressed by DEFLATE. However, some versions of Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW and MS Paint provide poor PNG compression, creating the impression that GIF is more efficient.

What is GIMP?

The (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an image retouching and editing tool and is released under the GPLv3 license as free and open-source software. There are versions of GIMP tailored for most operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
GIMP has tools used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, resizing, cropping, photo-montages, converting between different image formats, and more specialised tasks. Animated images such as GIF and MPEG files can be created using an animation plugin.
The developers and maintainers of GIMP have a product vision for GIMP to strive to be a high end free software graphics application for the editing and creation of original images, photos, icons, graphical elements of web pages and art for user interface elements.
GIMP’s fitness for use in professional environments is regularly reviewed; as such, GIMP is often cited as a possible replacement for Adobe Photoshop. The maintainers of GIMP state that GIMP seeks to fulfill GIMP’s product vision rather than seek to replicate the interface of Adobe Photoshop.
The user interface of GIMP is designed by a dedicated design and usability team. This team was formed after the developers of GIMP signed up to join the OpenUsability project. A user interface brainstorming group has since been created for GIMP, where users of GIMP can send in their suggestions as to how they think the GIMP user interface could be improved.

Sounds interesting, but I am a complete Photoshopper now, and can do just about anything from there.
I hope you learned something! I know I did….

Reference: Wikipedia – Image File Types

How To Resize an Image


resizeThe task of resizing images in Photoshop and other editors is a bit confusing. Do you “Resample Image” and what is image dimension versus pixel dimension? To get to the Image Size dialog box open an image, and go to Image>Image Size.

As you can see in the example, the Pixel Dimension box shows the file is a 1.14MB JPEG file and how many pixels are in the image. The document size box shows you how big your image will print and at what resolution. Resolution for print is generally at the 300ppi.

As for image quality on the web, a resolution of 72ppi has been the norm, however, the web is now leaning toward 90ppi to take into consideration iDevices and other monitor sources that are offering up gorgeous images. But remember – a large image will slow down a website’s page load, which of course is taboo, and printing a large sized low res image will look totally degraded and blurry.

When it comes to using images over the internet, digital images have no absolute size or resolution.  All it has are a certain number of pixels in each dimension.   The resolution changes as the image size changes because the number of pixels that make up the image are being spread across a lesser or greater area.

For web use, the DPI is meaningless. It is only useful for a file that will be printed. For web use the important part is the pixel dimensions. HTML uses pixel dimensions to control the size of an image in a web page. The size on any particular display will vary because 72DPI is no longer the norm. Most modern displays are actually above 90DPI.

You will always have a loss of image quality when you upscale an image. The information is either there, or it is recreated by some software. I understand that the software for enlarging images offered by Alien Skin does a great job, although I have never used it.

You wouldn’t want a humongous image to have to download while someone was visiting your website.  It will take too long to download and it is just not necessary to have such a huge file.  You have complete control over all of the images you have if you understand some of these basic Photoshop concepts.

Images to a Smaller Size

When you make an image smaller, you will be losing pixels in the process.  This is when you check the “Resample Image” box.  Resampling is a process in which the number of pixels (the tiny dots that make up an electronic image) is changed to modify the overall size and resolution of an image. It reduces the number of pixels in the image, leaving as much of the image as needed to maintain high quality while removing unneeded data to help the image and your page load quickly.

Check the Bicubic Sharper, which is a high-quality method for reducing the size of images.  It is based on Bicubic interpolation but also adds some sharpening.

Resizing Images to a Little Larger

Even small enlargements require adjusting the pixel dimensions. Keep “Resample Image” box unchecked to keep the pixels the same. If you are printing an image that has been enlarged a bit, you will have to see which resolution will look best. Try 240ppi (pixel per inch), and adjust according to the rules in this post – 300ppi has the most detail for print.

You can try enlarging the image 5 percent to 10 percent at a time.  Make sure Bicubic Smoother is checked, and that Resample Image is off.  In some cases you may need to purchase software made specifically for enlarging images.  Check the reviews and try any trial versions of upsampling software before you make your purchase.

Resizing Images to Much Larger

Using the Bicubic Smoother is a high-quality method for enlarging images and is based on the Bicubic method but adds some contrast while also attempting to produce smoother results.  Make sure you you check this, and that Resample Image is off.

There are several methods for re-sizing images, and thankfully, Photoshop lets you try a variety of things within the Image>Image Size menu.

Resizing for a Specific Size

If you ever need to produce an image that has a required image size, which can include max MB size, or you want to email a large image that is for use over the internet and want to shrink it, you will need to start maneuvering the pixel dimensions. Check “Resample Image”, adjust the width or height, use the scrubby sliders if you wish. If you are using images for online use, you can easily stay under 1000 either in width or height.  Use either Bicubic Smoother or Bicubic Sharpener.

Minimum megapixels for quality prints:

Max Print Size           Minimum MP         Resolution
4 x 6″                         2 megapixels        1600 x 1200
5 x 7″                         3 megapixels        2048 x 1536
8 x1 0″                       5 megapixels        2560 x 1920
11 x 14″                     6 megapixels        2816 x 2112
16 x 20″                     8 megapixels        3264 x 2468
16 x 24″                   12 megapixels        4200×2800

Retina Display is a brand name used by Apple for liquid crystal displays which they claim have a high enough pixel density that the human eye is unable to notice pixelation at a typical viewing distance. The term is used for several Apple products, including the iPhoneiPod TouchiPad, and MacBook Pro. As the typical viewing distance would be different depending on each device’s usage, the pixels per inch claimed as retina quality can be different for the smallest devices (326, iPhone and iPod Touch): greater than the mid-sized devices (264, iPad) and greater than the larger devices (220, MacBook Pro). When an Apple product has retina display, each user interface widget is doubled in width and height to compensate for the smaller pixels. This mode is referred to as HiDPI mode by Apple.

First Retina Display: iPhone 4 326ppi Pixel

Apple has applied to register the term “Retina” as a trademark in regard to computers and mobile devices with the United States Patent and Trademark OfficeCanadian Intellectual Property Office, and in Jamaica.  On November 27, 2012 the US Patent and Trademark office approved Apple’s application and Retina® is now a registered trademark.

How can you keep your clients happy?

524755_4649866659031_810800089_nUnderstanding what it is that your client is trying to portray is the first step in designing a website.  It is the same thing when you are on a photo shoot.  Once you understand your client, then you can move into his/her space and work toward giving them a product that is even better than they imagined.

Find out whose opinion matters and try to find out what they envision.  Work with them to prototype the look and feel with colors and font.  Let your client see how much work goes into this step of the design process.  It can be a time consuming task.  Imagery is as important as everything else you do.  Do they have images already or do you need to set up a photo shoot?  Let them in on the process and tell them what you need from them.  What do they dislike?  Find out their personal preferences.

Your clients should tell you about their competition, their business, and the future of their brand.

Stay in touch with your client throughout the process and let them know if your schedule includes a vacation which might make it hard for them to get in touch with you.  Let them know where you are at.  Be approachable and always be at ease.

Try meeting your clients at a relaxing location where you might enjoy having some coffee over your design discussions.

People remember when they felt comfortable with someone and they also remember when they weren’t too impressed.

Always be upbeat, even when you have to say “no”.  Explain why something you know won’t work and offer an alternative idea.  You will have to gauge each client and try to do the best you can.  Things like time limitations and difficult personalities are just part of the real world.  You have to deal with these things no matter what you do, and thank goodness most times it’s a really, really fun process.   Again, be upbeat even in the face of adversity – why not?  There will always be more happy clients.

I am always extremely happy to be challenged with a new project and I hope that my client picks up on that.   Together, we can make something awesome, modern, responsive and web 2.0.

My First Care for Sandy Photo Adoption

I feel honored to be chosen as a volunteer to help restore some precious photographs for some of the victims of hurricane Sandy. If you are a Photoshop guru and would like to lend a helping hand and adopt some images, please visit the Care for Sandy group at or go to their Facebook page. They are the nicest people who have started something I feel proud to be a part of. They are right there in good old Brooklyn, NY. THANKS FOR WHAT YOU DO!

Photography 101 – Color Mapping for Images


Color Mapping – what color space is appropriate for certain photographs?  This is a very important part of photography and graphic design and is only going to become more important as new technology arrives.  Once you view your images on the latest monitors, you will see that this is something any good photographer is going to have to take into consideration while processing their images.

I am writing this blog to simplify the process for myself and to remember these couple of facts:

Let’s say you  have a  great photograph of a landscape and you are curious about which color space is the best fit for this image based on either sRGB, Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB. It may take a little to get good at judging the color spaces and and pre-visualize how you’re going to process that image to get the result you’re looking for, but this is what will make you a great photographer.

There are a few things to consider based on how you are going to use your images.  Will they only be shown on the web, or are you planning to print it someday?

So we already know that all color modes are based on 3 channels, red, green and blue.  And we also know that basic color information tells us that an image in an 8-bit mode refers to the availability of 255 colors in each channel, which equals 16.7 million possible colors, and a 16-bit image has 65536 colors in each channel offering up the possibility of over 281 trillion colors!

sRGB has the lowest gamut of color range and works well in low end monitors.  It is about 20 percent less color space than Adobe RGB and half that of ProPhoto.  It used an 8-bit mode and will literally eliminate some color saturation.  Most monitors capacity can only render images in this mode and is okay if you are not going to do any editing or printing of your work.

Adobe RGB uses the same amount of colors as sRGB, only spread out a little bit rendering a more saturated color.  This is a more acceptable mode for editing or printing images.  If there is banding or other funky artifacts, you will need to open your images and work in ProPhoto. An image that was rendered in sRGB mode and viewed in an Adobe RGB monitor will look washed out.    Again, this takes a little while to discover, but the best amateur photographers and pros consider these things.

If you are going to display your images only on the web, images shot in JPEG mode and rendered in 8-bit mode might be sufficient.  If you shoot in RAW, then your images can be rendered in any of the available color spaces.


If you want to print your images, or edit them, you should be shooting in RAW and edited in 16-bit mode. 16 bit mode does not allow more saturated colors than 8 bit mode, but rather more colors in between the existing 8 bit colors. It is actually better to do all you image editing in 16 bit mode especially when working with a large gamut color space.

RAW files can be converted to whatever color space you decide when you import it into an image editing program. Also note that most digital SLR sensors can capture colors that are outside the Adobe RGB color space, which leads us to ProPhoto RGB.

ProPhoto RGB has about 50 percent bigger range in color than Adobe RGB. Some Epson printers are capable of printing colors outside the Adobe RGB color space, namely in the orange and yellows. ProPhoto RGB covers all of these colors, but also some that are not even visible, let alone printable. In fact, the color space is so big that even in 16 bit mode, you risk banding and artifacts due to the “gaps” between the colors. Generally, you only want to use ProPhoto if you see clipping in the Adobe RGB color space.

Once you have your file open in ProPhoto RGB you have to be careful. The huge size of the color space and the size of the gaps between the colors means that you risk banding and other rounding errors if you are not careful. Do not even think of using ProPhoto RGB in 8 bit mode. The results are disastrous.

The histogram is a bar graph that shows the amount of each brightness or color intensity level in an image and illustrates the image’s overall tonal range.  This graph can be seen in numerous places in a variety of photo editing software.  Viewing histogram in addition to viewing the image itself, can be helpful in determining how to adjust an image for its intended purpose.

A histogram often looks like a solid shape of a mountain range with a jagged top, but it is actually made up of a series of adjacent vertical bars that measure the amounts of each brightness level in an image.  The taller the bar in the graph, the more of its tone is present in the image.

An image with mostly white clouds generates many tall bars on the right side of the graph, representing the lighter colors.  Add some black, and the histogram will pick that up on the left side.  In between these two are mid-tones and shades.  A histogram with bars all the way across means that the image contains all the available brightness levels possible, which often makes an image appear full of detail and depth.  Making changes that cause the bars to appear across the entire width of the histogram is a good objective if detail and depth are intended for the image, which is usually the case for photos of people and scenery.

When depth and detail are the goals, avoid huge gaps in the histogram.  If there is a limited amount of color in your image, then there will be an acceptable amount of gaps.  There is no one right histogram for each image.  Again, this comes with experience and practice.

Histograms measure the pixels in an image in numerous ways.  Practice working with a histogram by converting your image beween the different color modes if you want to get a real good grip on this concept.

I am finding that the best process for me is to shoot in RAW, open the image using the ProPhoto RGB color space, covert it to Adobe RGB while keeping it in 16 bit mode. This way I am able to do a lot more editing without the risk of errors and the image won’t be degraded. Also keep in mind that you want to convert to Adobe RGB using the Perceptual rendering intent. Doing this will compress the color gamut (range) rather than clipping it.

So, if you want to get the absolute best out of your images, shoot RAW and process as you need to. Stick with Adobe RGB and 16 bit mode for your editing to maximize your image potential and avoid problems.  Become an expert using the histogram.  With new technology, it is imperative that any graphic design or photography students understand the difference in the color modes.

I am pretty sure we will be seeing additional color modes in the future……