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Photoshop Tips : How To Put An Object On A White Background

5 November 2007

Raw image from camera
Raw image from camera

Final Image
Final image

In this post, I’ll explain the basic steps to create a picture of an object against a white background.

I’ll use a photo of some gumnuts, which I took (in a hurry), and show how I turned it into the image I eventually used in the post, Spider Boy’s Honky Nuts.

1. Take a photo of the object on a plain white background!

Ok. Even I will admit that the BEFORE photo is pretty shocking. Haha I feel it only adds credit to my previous post, How Busy People Take Great Photos.

You see, it was late in the afternoon and I stumbled home from a family bike ride in the park. I quickly grabbed my camera and a piece of white paper from the house, set the gumnuts on the paper, on our garden bench, and took a few quick snaps, before racing back into the house to bath the muddy children, before they jumped on the furniture!

I repeat, make sure the background is plain and white! And make sure it is not in a direct source of light ie: direct sunshine, or a very strong house light. However, if the sun is covered by clouds, then it’s a great source of diffused light. And also make sure the flash is off.

2. Use Graphics Editing Software!

I use a graphics editing package called Adobe Photoshop CS2. It’s the full hardcore version for graphics professionals, and it costs something crazy like AU$1500 (for the latest version).

However, you can get a simpler but just as powerful version called, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, for around AU$200. I highly recommend it for this kind of photo editing!

3. Adjust Levels

Adjust Levels
Image > Adjustments > Levels.

Click and drag the white triangle to the left. You can see the before and after result here.

Before / After

I encourage you to play with the triangles, see what each of them do when moved around. You have to play with it to get to know what each triangle does, and remember the results will be slightly different for each image.

4. Adjust Colour Balance

Adjust Color Balance
Image > Adjustments > Colour Balance

Move cursor towards Magenta.

I felt that the image looked like it had a bit too much Green in it. Therefore, to make it look a bit more natural, I moved the cursor away from Green.

Before / After

Again, I encourage you to play with the cursors, to see what each of them do when moved around.

5. Crop!

Use the Rectangular Marquee Select Tool to draw a rectangle around the object, to frame out the unwanted background. Copy, paste into a new document, and save!

Now I actually did a few more things to the photo to produce my final image, but I think this will be all for now!

Recommended Books

I learned all my Photoshop skills over the years I have been working as a graphic designer – so I’ve never actually bought or read a book on Photoshop (except the Adobe Photoshop Manual that came with the software).

However, these books are very popular, and highly recommended by others. They seem to do very detailed step by step tutorials, written in easy to understand language, lots of cool pictures, plus CDROM.

Photoshop CS2 : Essential Skills

Photoshop CS3 : Essential Skills

How to Cheat in Photoshop CS3: The art of creating photorealistic montages

Read some of my tips on : How Busy People Take Great Photos.

Read more of my tips on : How To Take A Great Photo.

More next week!