Do you remember a post I wrote a while back where I worked with a few different layers and merged them into one document in Adobe Photoshop? If not, please take a look at this post:
Basically, I showed how to take multiple files and drag them over into one project file as layers. I then trimmed them and arranged the layers side by side. It was a good post that covered some very common tasks in Photoshop. Well, today I’m going to expand on that post. The incredible illustrator who initially asked that I write the previous post has asked that I go one step further.
In today’s post, I’m going to use four separate illustration files and, again, merge them into one new file using Adobe Photoshop. Then, I’m going to make a selection with the Magic Wand Tool inside of each file. From there, I’m going to remove the white backgrounds so the models in the illustrations can be easily overlapped, giving them a more realistic and casual look.
If you’re into illustrating, this post may be of interest to you. If you’re into graphics in general, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this post too. What I cover in it are some very popular tasks that take place quite often in all types of design work.
I made one graphic that shows all four models. Basically, I did this just to give you an idea of the illustrations I’m dealing with. Don’t take this image as any part of the project. I’ll begin directly below.
Remember, the goal of this project is to simply trim away the white background that exists around each of the models above. I won’t go into the specifics that have to do with selecting and edge refinement. I wrote in abundance about those topics already, so I’ll link to the posts where appropriate.
Creating a New File
I took a look at each file in Adobe Bridge and discovered that, on average, these four files have dimensions of about 1000 pixels wide by 2200 pixels high. The tallest file is 2400 pixels high. Since I need to create a new file in Photoshop to contain the final graphic, I’ll make that file 4000 pixels wide by 2400 pixels tall. I can always trim away the extra space at the sides and reduce the final overall dimensions later on. That’s easy.
To create the new file, I went up to the top menu and clicked on File > New.
After that, when the dimensions dialog box appeared, I typed in the values I already decided on. Since this project graphic will be used for web purposes, I kept the resolution at 72dpi. If I were going to use this for print, I’d go with 300dpi.
Finally, I clicked on the Create button down below.
After I create the new, empty, file, I’ll use Adobe Bridge to launch each of the graphics into Photoshop. I generally use Bridge for things like this. You don’t have to. You can open these files directly in Photoshop. To see how to do this, please read this post:
Once I do this, I’m all set for the next step. I have the empty work area that I created for the final graphic and the four working images in their respective tabs. Perfect.
Setting Up the Layers
Since I’ll be going through the same process for all four graphics, I’ll use just one of them in this post.
As you can see, the backgrounds are white. Because I’ll be removing this background, I’ll need to see the results of my efforts. The easiest way to achieve this is to create a new layer that’s black. This way, as I remove material, I can quickly and clearly see what I’ve done.
The first thing I’ll do is to unlock the background layer. I’ll head over to the Layers panel and click on the small lock icon to make it disappear and to unlock the layer.
Next, I’ll create a new layer by clicking the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
I’ll click and drag that new layer underneath the graphic layer. Finally, I’ll make sure the layer is selected and then I’ll head up to the Edit > Fill menu item and click.
Once I do that, the Fill dialog box will appear. From the Contents drop-down menu, I’ll select Black, which will fill the empty layer I created with solid black.
Since the graphic background is still there, it won’t see like anything has happened. IF you look at the new layer though, you’ll see that the thumbnail is black. That’s a good thing.
Trimming Away the Backgrounds
What I’ve done so far is all preparatory. Now comes the fun part of actually trimming away the white areas around the illustrations. What’s especially easy for me is that I already wrote tons of posts on how to do this. Basically, I’m going to make a selection, if necessary, refine the selection and then delete the contents of it.
If you want to become a pro at everything that has to do with selections in Photoshop, simply search for Photoshop Selection in the search bar on this site. All the posts I’ve written on the topic will appear in the results.
For this post, I’m going to go quick and dirty. I understand that when someone wants to get something done, the last thing they want to do is learn a topic from the beginning. This isn’t a problem. There are only a few areas that need to be looked into.
Okay, I’m back to the graphic. I’ll head over to the left toolbar and activate the Magic Wand Tool.
When I do that, I’ll see the options bar change.
Now, before I do anything else, I’d like to lead you to a resource on this particular tool. Since it’s ancient and incredibly useful, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to learn as much as you can about it.
In particular, look at the Tolerance area.
Tolerance: Determines the color range of selected pixels. Enter a value in pixels, ranging from 0 to 255. A low value selects the few colors very similar to the pixel you click. A higher value selects a broader range of colors.
The reason I mention this one area of the options bar is that in one of the illustrations, while selecting the white background, the “almost white” shirt became selected as well, when I was working on it. Due to this, I lowered the Tolerance value and things began working properly. For all the illustrations, I used a Tolerance value of 5.
Since the tool is activated, I can now click in any area of the white background (making sure the illustration layer is selected in the Layers panel).
After I made the selection, there was an area inside of the arm that needed to get selected as well. Also, there were two areas near the edge that needed to be selected. When using this tool, if you need to add to a selection, hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard. If you need to remove selected areas, hold the Alt key and continue clicking around.
Once everything is selected, I’ll press Delete on my keyboard to remove all pixels in the selected areas. Since I have a nice black background, I can see the results clearly.
Finally, to get rid of the marching ants, head up to the Select > Deselect menu item and click. Once you do that, continue on with the remaining illustrations.
Combining Illustrations into One File
The last thing I need to do for this project is to get all the girls into the one file I created earlier. To do this, I’ll activate the Move Tool.
After making sure the proper (illustration) layer is selected in the Layers panel, I’ll click and drag it up to the tab of the file I’d like to move it to.
Without letting go of my mouse button, I’ll wait until that tab file becomes visible. Then, I’ll continue dragging down into the workable area of the file. It’s there that I’ll drop the graphic.
I’ll continue on doing this with all the remaining models. After all the illustrations are in the file, I can arrange them by clicking on each layer and moving it so they look like a group of girlfriends walking down the street. If I wanted to get rid of the lines under the models, I could use the Eraser Tool to erase anything I don’t want to see. When I’m all finished, this is what I’ll end up with. Pretty awesome, if I don’t say so myself.
After this, you can crop the image to size and then do what you wish with it.
There you have it – a nice file with multiple graphics overlapping one another in Adobe Photoshop. I hope I explained everything clearly. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!