Product Photography Guide


Chapter 3

How T? R?m?v? B??kgr?und? from Y?ur Pr?du?t Ph?t?gr??h?

What is it, and why is it important?

It’s v?r? ???ul?r ?m?ng ?C?mm?r?? m?r?h?nt? to remove th? b??kgr?und? fr?m ?ll th?ir ?r?du?t ?h?t?gr??h?. Even th?ugh gr??t product ?h?t?gr??h? h?? a n?utr?l b??kgr?und, t? begin with, ?utting out th? b??kgr?und has ??v?r?l b?n?fit?. Removing th? b??kgr?und from product ?h?t?? results in:

  • Smaller file ?iz?
  • B?tt?r ??n?i?t?n?? between images
  • N? di?tr??ti?n? fr?m the ?r?du?t (not ?v?n ?ubtl? ones)
  • Ability t? replace b??kgr?und with something else
  • A more ?r?f???i?n?l l??k
  • A b?tt?r ?????r?n?? ?n m?bil?

It’s ?l?? worth mentioning th?t ??m? online m?rk?t?l????, lik? Am?z?n, r?quir? your ?r?du?t? to b? di??l???d on a ?l?in whit? b??kgr?und. If ??u’r? going t? ??ll ?n Amazon ?r ?n?th?r m?rk?t?l??? that has thi? r?quir?m?nt, the b??t w?? t? ?r???r? your im?g?? i? t? eradicate the background.

Pr???rving Your Pr?du?t’? Edg??

Wh?n removing th? background fr?m a ?r?du?t ?h?t?, ??u w?nt t? ?r??? th? background ??m?l?t?l? without h?rming th? ?dg?? of the product. Th?r? are tw? m?in ways ??u can g?t th? edges wr?ng:

First – ??u ??n accidentally leave a thin lin? of background around th? ?dg??.

Second – you can erase t?? much ?nd ?nd up ?utting int? th? ?r?du?t. T? better understand th? t??l? you u?? t? r?m?v? th? b??kgr?und?, ??u ?h?uld understand h?w th??? mi?t?k?? ??n h????n.

R?m?ving b??kgr?und? ??n b? hard wh?n th? product h?? ?n? ?m?ll ?nd? ?r points, ?????i?ll? if there ?r? a l?t ?f them, lik? feathers or hair. If parts ?f th? ?r?du?t ?????r to f?d? ?ut, wh?th?r du? to the ?r?du?t h?ving ??m? tr?n???r?n?? ?r b???u?? ?f a gl?r? fr?m th? lighting.

You can h?v? ?r?bl?m? finding th? ??tu?l ?dg? ?f th? product in th? ?h?t?. B?th of th??? i??u?? ??n r??ult in difficulties r?m?ving th? b??kgr?und without t?king t?? much, or t?? littl? of it ?w??.

A? ??u w?rk ?n r?m?ving b??kgr?und? fr?m ??ur im?g??, ??u m?? need to tr? a f?w tim?? before it l??k? right. M??t ?f th? available t??l? h?v? ??tting? th?t can b? ?dju?t?d to help ?v?id problems with th? edges. Be r??d? to hit “Und?” ?nd ?h?ng? a ??tting ?r tw? b?f?r? trying ?g?in.

Alw??? work with a ???? ?f ??ur im?g? ?? ??u ??n ?t?rt again fr?m th? b?ginning if you need t?.

Und?r?t?nding the T??l? f?r B??kgr?und R?m?v?l

Th?r? are m?n? ???? ?nd ?nlin? editors ??u can u?? t? r?m?v? backgrounds, but ?lm??t all ?f them have some f??tur?? in ??mm?n. We’ll go ?v?r th???, so ??u know what t? l??k for no m?tt?r whi?h im?g? ?dit?r you u??.

Knowledge of this ??mm?n t??l? will m?k? it ???i?r f?r you t? choose an editing ??? th?t w?rk? best for ??u ?nd ??ur ?r?du?t?.

Th? Magic W?nd Tool

The m??t ??mm?n way t? remove a b??kgr?und in a ?r?du?t im?g? i? t? select it ?nd d?l?t? it ?ll ?t once, ?nd then u?? a m?r? precise t??l f?r touchups in ?m?ll ?r???.

Th? tool used t? select th? b??kgr?und can v?r? but i? m??t ??mm?nl? th? Magic Wand t??l. Tools m?? have diff?r?nt n?m?? ??r??? programs but work in similar w??? — f?r ?x?m?l?, if u?ing GIMP, th? M?gi? W?nd t??l i? ??ll?d th? Fuzz? Select t??l.

The M?gi? W?nd t??l ?r??t?? a ??l??ti?n b???d ?n ??l?r ?imil?rit?, ?? if ??u ?li?k it in the middle ?f a fi?ld ?f white, it will select all th? whit?. Th?r? are a few settings ??u ??n change t? ?lt?r how ?r??i??l? th? M?gi? Wand t??l selects a ??l?r, ?lth?ugh these ??tting? may n?t b? ?v?il?bl? in ?ll im?g? ?dit?r?.

  • T?l?r?n?? ?ff??t? th? l?v?l of ?imil?rit? a color needs to be in?lud?d in th? ??l??ti?n.
  • A low t?l?r?n?? will be v?r? ?tri?t at ??l??ting ?nl? th? white.
  • A high?r tolerance will ?ll?w f?r m?r? diff?r?n??, so th? ??l??ti?n ??n ?l?? in?lud? light ?r medium gr?? shadows.
  • If th? t?l?r?n?? is too high, you’ll ?t?rt t? l??? the edges ?f light-??l?r?d it?m?.
  • Contiguous i? a setting th?t d?t?rmin?? wh?th?r ?r n?t th? Magic W?nd ??l??t? all th? white in the im?g?, or ?nl? the white dir??tl? t?u?hing th? ?r?? wh?r? ??u clicked th? tool.
  • If you h?v? a ?r?du?t ?h?t? with ??v?r?l small background areas, unchecking C?ntigu?u? will ?ll?w ??u to ??l??t th?m ?ll at ?n?? f?r d?l?ti?n. It can b? convenient in im?g?? f??turing hair (?u?h ?? ?h?t?? that u?? models), products with lace, ?nd ?imil?r im?g??.
  • H?w?v?r, if C?ntigu?u? i? un?h??k?d, th? M?gi? W?nd will ?l?? select instances of that ??l?r ?n th? ?r?du?t itself, whi?h you don’t want to d?l?t?.

B? fine-tuning the t?l?r?n?? ??tting, ??u can almost always create a selection th?t captures ?ll the b??kgr?und ?nd preserves the ?dg?? of your ?r?du?t. Th? C?ntigu?u? ??tting ?r?vid?? a u??ful shortcut wh?n ??u need to r?m?v? th? background from num?r?u? ??nt?in?d areas, but its u?? i? more ?itu?ti?n?l.

Th? P?n Tool

Th? P?n T??l i? another u??ful tool f?und in n??rl? ?ll gr??hi?? ?dit?r?. It’? ?l?? ??ll?d th? P?th T??l (in GIMP f?r ?x?m?l?) b???u?? it d???n’t w?rk precisely like a pen. Wh?t it does i? ?ll?w you t? dr?w a v??t?r ??th.

Whi?h ??u ??n th?n u?? in multiple ways, in?luding m?king a selection. A ??th d???n’t take individual ?ix?l? into account, which gives ??u m?r? freedom ?? t? wh?r? ??u ?l??? it.

Drawing a ??th isn’t freehand. Instead, you ?l??? ?n?h?r ??int? ?l?ng wh?r? ??u w?nt th? ??th t? b?. Wh?n dr?wing a path ?r?und the ?dg?? ?f a ?r?du?t, do it ju?t inside th? ?dg?? — n?t right on th?m ?r ?ut?id? ?f th?m. Thi? i? easier if ??u z??m-in.

On?? ??u’v? dr?wn ??ur path, ??u can ??nv?rt it t? a ??l??ti?n. At fir?t, your ?r?du?t will b? ??l??t?d in?t??d ?f th? b??kgr?und, ?nd you don’t w?nt to d?l?t? your product! Instead, choose Invert Selection fr?m th? m?nu, ?nd th? b??kgr?und will b? selected instead.

Th? r????n ??u dr?w ??ur ??th just inside the ?dg?? i? t? compensate f?r inv?rting th? selection — ?lightl? “too tight” ?dg?? will become ju?t th? right ?iz?. You can th?n delete th? b??kgr?und.

Th? P?n T??l h?? a built-in f??tur? f?r creating smoothly ?urv?d ??th?, t??. With a littl? ?r??ti??, ??u ??n draw a ??m?l?t? order soma pills outline ?f any ?r?du?t whil? ?r???rving the n?tur?l ?dg??, ju?t m?k? ?ur? you’ve ??l??t?d th? path functionality from th? P?n T??l’? options.

Th? Pen T??l, and paths, in general, are a littl? ?h?ll?nging t? m??t?r but ?xtr?m?l? powerful. Skill?d u?? ?f th? P?n T??l u?u?ll? r??ult? in th? most professional-looking im?g?? ????ibl?.

The Er???r Tool

You ??n use it f?r fin?-tuning your edges, with better r??ult? if you z??m in t? work with precision. It’? not recommended t? use the Eraser tool ?n the ?ntir? b??kgr?und, ?im?l? b???u?? it t?k?? t?? long.

Alm??t every ?ingl? im?g? ?dit?r, n? matter how ?im?l?, includes the Eraser. It’? a mu?h m?r? b??i? ?diting tool.

Other Selection S?tting?

The b??t w?? t? get rid ?f b??kgr?und? inv?lv?? u?ing selections, regardless ?f wh?th?r ??u’r? u?ing th? Magic W?nd, th? P?n Tool, or ?n?th?r ??l??ti?n tool. H?r?’? a littl? m?r? information r?g?rding ??l??ti?n? ?nd the settings you ??n ?h?ng? to g?t more natural ?dg??.

W?’v? di??u???d the Tolerance ?nd Contiguous settings f?r th? Magic W?nd t??l, but ?lm??t ?v?r? selection t??l has a ??u?l? ?f ?th?r ??tting? ??u can ?dju?t. Th??? ?ff??t th? r??li?m of th? edges l?ft b?hind wh?n ??u delete th? b??kgr?und.

If th? edges ?r? t?? ?h?r?, th? product will l??k unn?tur?l. If the edges ?r? too loose, there will b? ?rtif??t? ?f the b??kgr?und ?r?und th? ?ut?id? of th? image, whi?h l??k? ?h???.

Th? ?dg? ??ntr?l settings in gr??hi?? programs are ?ft?n ??ll?d ?nti-?li??ing, feathering, ?r smoothing. Anti-?li??ing i? the term for ?r??ting a r??li?ti? ?dg? by basically copying some ?f th? ?ix?l? ?t diff?r?nt transparencies t? prevent jagged ?r???.

F??th?ring applies a ?light blur t? th? edges. G?n?r?ll?, ?nti-?li??ing provides b?tt?r, sharper r??ult? than feathering, but b?th ??n be useful ?n a ????-b?-???? b??i?.

What H????n? Wh?n You D?l?t? the Background?

D?l?ting th? background fr?m an im?g?, whether ??u use a selection t??l, th? ?r???r, or b?th, will h?v? different results d???nding ?n the ??ftw?r? ?nd settings you’re u?ing.

F?r ?x?m?l?, Ad?b? Ph?t??h?? giv?? you control over th? b??kgr?und. Y?u ??n choose a background ??l?r in th? ??l?r ?i?k?r t??l, and that ??l?r will then b? used wh?n?v?r ?n? part ?f th? im?g? is d?l?t?d or ?r???d. Selecting whit? ?? the b??kgr?und color, and then d?l?ting the background from ??ur image, will g?t the results ??u need.

H?w?v?r, th?r? is another possible ?ut??m? when ??u delete b??kgr?und? tr?n???r?n??. Y?u can d?l?t? th? b??kgr?und ?nd leave th? image tr?n???r?nt ?r?und th? ?r?du?t, instead of filling it with whit?. Y?u ??n th?n ?l??? th? ?r?du?t on top ?f a different b??kgr?und if ??u n??d t?, like making a collage.

Diff?r?nt image editing software h?v? different procedures t? ?r??t? a tr?n???r?nt b??kgr?und. For example, in Ph?t??h??, one method is t? select New Layer fr?m background fr?m the m?nu before you ?t?rt work on th? im?g?. This turn? th? im?g? int? a layer ?n top ?f a tr?n???r?nt background th?t will ?h?w up wh?n ??u ?r???, in?t??d ?f th? b??kgr?und ??l?r you ?h??? in th? ??l?r picker. On?? th? b??kgr?und is g?n?, ??v? th? fil? ?? a PNG t? preserve th? tr?n???r?n??.

An im?g? with a tr?n???r?nt b??kgr?und h?? m?n? uses, but some ?C?mm?r?? ?l?tf?rm? won’t display them ??rr??tl?. F?r ?x?m?l?, u?l??ding a tr?n???r?nt PNG to Am?z?n will ?h?w a black b??kgr?und ?r?und th? ?r?du?t, ?v?n though Am?z?n’? w?b?it? has a white background. S?, ?v?n if ??u need ??m? ?r?du?t images with tr?n???r?nt backgrounds f?r different design u???, ??u still need th? ?l?in whit? b??kgr?und f?r use in ??ur ?r?du?t pages ?r marketplace.

Getting b?th i? v?r? easy because ??u can ?r??t? b?th v?r?i?n? ?t the ??m? tim?. Y?u’d fir?t ?r??t? th? tr?n???r?nt v?r?i?n, and th?n ?l??? th? whit? b??kgr?und b?hind it ?nd d? a S?v? As und?r a different file name to get the white v?r?i?n.

For example, h?r?’? ?n? way to d? the whole ?r????? in Photoshop:

  1. Open ??ur product ?h?t?gr??h ?nd save a w?rking ???? ?? a PSD fil? (this is Ph?t??h?? f?rm?t ?nd m?? b? needed b?f?r? ??u ??n use ??m? of the t??l?).
  2. S?l??t N?w L???r fr?m background fr?m the m?nu.
  3. D?l?t? th? b??kgr?und u?ing ??ur favorite t??l?, wh?th?r th? Magic W?nd, P?n Tool, Er???r ?r a ??mbin?ti?n.
  4. Y?u’ll n?w h?v? a ?i?tur? ?f your ?r?du?t floating ?n a tr?n???r?nt b??kgr?und. S?v? th? PSD fil?.
  5. Cli?k Save A? (?r S?v? f?r Web) and ??l??t PNG f?rm?t. You now h?v? a web-friendly ?r?du?t image with a tr?n???r?nt background f?r u?? in ?th?r ?r?j??t?.
  6. G? b??k t? th? PSD file ?nd ??l??t – New L???r from the menu. Y?u’ll n?w have a n?w layer ?n t?? ?f th? l???r with the ?r?du?t im?g?.
  7. Fill thi? new l???r with white u?ing th? P?int Bu?k?t or ?n?th?r fill t??l. Your product will disappear for a m?m?nt; d?n’t w?rr?.
  8. Look in the L???r? box whi?h i? u?u?ll? to th? right of ??ur work ?r??. Y?u’ll ??? tw? l???r?: th? white ?n?, and th? one with your ?r?du?t. You can r??rr?ng? th?ir ?rd?r in thi? b?x b? dr?gging the ?r?du?t layer on top.
  9. Now you h?v? a product im?g? with a white background. S?v? your PSD fil? ?g?in.
  10. U?ing S?v? As ?r Save f?r W?b, save ??ur im?g? in a web-friendly format ?u?h ?? PNG or JPG.

There ?r? other m?th?d? f?r d?ing thi?, but ??u’d f?ll?w th? ??m? general steps in ?n? ??ftw?r? wh?r? you’re w?rking with layers. Thi? ?r????? also d???n’t t?k? ?th?r ?dit? int? ????unt, lik? ?r???ing ??ur im?g?, ?? d?n’t f?rg?t t? ?r?? ?nd size all ??ur images for ??n?i?t?n??.

It’? a g??d id?? t? ??v? your PSD files with a tr?n???r?nt b??kgr?und ?nd hang on to them f?r futur? u??. You’ll b? able to ??mbin? th?m ?r ?dd other b??kgr?und? if needed.

Ch???ing Y?ur Image Editing Software

N?w th?t you know h?w the different b??kgr?und r?m?v?l t??l? w?rk, ??u ??n u?? th?t knowledge to help d??id? whi?h im?g? ?dit?r ??u w?nt to u??. Consider ??ur budg?t ?nd th? b??kgr?und r?m?v?l m?th?d th?t seems most comfortable t? you.

S?m? im?g? ?dit?r? in?lud? ?th?r t??l? th?t aren’t m?nti?n?d here because th?? ?r?n’t ??mm?n among ?diting ????. Th?r? m?? be ?th?r m?th?d? f?r ??l??ting your b??kgr?und area f?r d?l?ti?n.

F?r example, M?? OSX comes with an im?g? vi?w?r and ?dit?r ??ll?d Preview, whi?h includes a t??l ??ll?d In?t?nt Alpha. Y?u can use this to ?li?k and dr?g on th? image b??kgr?und to select ?r??? t? d?l?t?.

While ?v?lu?ting image ?diting programs, l??k for th? Magic Wand, Pen T??l, ?nd Er???r ?? w?ll ?? ?n? ????i?liz?d b??kgr?und r?m?v?l m?th?d? lik? In?t?nt Al?h?. L??k f?r th? ?bilit? t? w?rk with l???r?, ?? w? d???rib?d in the Ph?t??h?? example ?b?v?.

Another method f?r achieving tr?n???r?nt b??kgr?und? (which ??u ??n then place over whit?) i? vi? Alpha Channels, whi?h ?r? ?v?il?bl? in Photoshop, GIMP, and others.

Y?ur b??kgr?und r?m?v?l w?rkfl?w depends ?n how ??mf?rt?bl? you are u?ing certain t??l?, ?nd which process f??l? b??t to ??u. M??t software has more than one w?? t? ????m?li?h thi?, so u?? ??ur f?v?rit? m?th?d.

This guid? ??n introduce some m?th?d? ?nd t??l?, but ??n’t t?ll ??u whi?h ?n? will b? ???i??t ?nd f??t??t for ??u ????ifi??ll?. Wh?t matters are your r??ult??

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