Photoshop deep etching

by Design Workshop Sydney

Cutting out backgrounds in Photoshop is pretty straight-forward. This is known as deep etching in the printing industry, and is used where you want to extract an item like a logo or a human head from its background, to be placed onto a web banner or a header or footer. This is one of the many functions we explore in our Photoshop courses.photoshop-deep-etch
Essential to the process is knowing which selection tools to use for the job. Whenever we perform any operation in Photoshop we usually have to select a bunch of pixels. Once you have your selection you can basically do anything with it, whether it’s changing colours, tones, retouching or copying across to another image.
You always select what’s easiest first, then modify it. For instance, if the original image has a plain white or coloured background the process is easy – it’s usually just a matter of selecting the background with the Magic Wand tool with a Feather value of 0 or 1 pixel. You may need to add or subtract from the selection, to tidy it up. I will often switch now to the Polygonal Lasso tool, and press Shift to add to a selection, or press Alt (Mac: Option) to subtract from a selection.
When you are happy with the selection, go to Select > Inverse in order to have the logo or object itself selected. Then Copy or Cut and Paste – you’ll now have a new layer. Make the background layer invisible in order to check on your deep etching. Transparency is indicated by the grey checker-board pattern. If happy with the result just delete the background layer. Then you need to save it in a new format – there are many to choose from, except JPEG. Saving it as a JPEG will result in adding a white background since the file format does not support transparency. The format you choose will often depend on what’s required, for example printing companies like TIFFs whilst web designers will request GIFs or PNGs. Best to check beforehand.
Many more tips and techniques can be found at the Adobe website. See many examples of our clients’ work on our Facebook page.
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