Photoshop Seminars
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Making transparent Backgrounds in Photoshop

filled layers At right you see our Star shape which we've filled with the radial gradient behind the actual clip art. We've traced the star as a path with the pen tool and that path is waiting for us on the Paths Palette.

When we export the art we'll flatten the layers so there is only one layer, the clip art with the gradient burst filling it.

Now you'll save your path as a "Clipping Path" from the Palette Options menu. Have the path selected, and then select "Make Clipping Path" (See diagram)

Note that you'll be given the opportunity to select a "Flatness" setting. You can leave that at default for now, hopefully Photoshop has read your page set-up and printer configuration settings correctly.

Once you say "OK" the clipping path file is saved along with the art file.

Clipping Options

Now we'll export Mr. Star to our DTP program...

Next comes the export function. Choose File > Save and select EPS from the pull-down menu and you'll see the EPS dialog box.

saving as EPS

It is recommended to leave the ASCII encoding so most programs can recognize the EPS file. There's your clipping path "Star" name.

"Include Halftone Screen" asks if you want to save any screens you've developed with the file while in Photoshop. Note that this offers a whole new set of powerful tools for future investigation. (Dialogs here may differ from yours!)

The Transfer Function deals with settings you've made regarding brightness and contrast in the final image. That too is for another article.

Transparent Background

Now, arriving in the desktop publishing program (can you guess which one?) we import the graphic into our prepared page, with a text block, and a color-filled panel.

Placed in DTP Program

We see the graphic nicely clipped so that the background shines through. The runaround also follows the contours of the graphic, making our life a bit easier. (This DTP program by the way, was the first to offer runarounds of graphic elements!)

Stroking & Painting Paths

All work and no play? Of course I can't let you off the hook without having some fun, so let's return to our original file.

stroke path This time we'll Stroke the path by using the Stroke Path in the Paths Palette Options menu. Give it something nice and chunky... perhaps four or six pixels.

Here's where the fun comes in. Now we can use a selection of tools to use for the stroking process. You can actually Paint along any path with any tool, governed by current tool settings.

We've selected the Airbrush, with a 100% Opacity, and a rather rude green color (just for the fun of it,) and hiding the art layer to view just the "Filled" layer 2 shows us a peek at just one of the millions of great possibilities!

stroked Experiment with different brush sizes to the stroke or select different edge treatments. Try the Pencil tool. Try a textured brush shape. The variations are unlimited.

Remember that you can do this with any tool! Just make sure you select the tool and set it's parameters before stroking the path. Same goes for the color for stroking... choose it before the stroke command goes down.

Keep in mind that many of the screens we've seen today may look different on your current system configuration and Photoshop version. But the principles are still the same.

And that about wraps up another case study from the emergency calls at Photoshop 911 dot com
Good day!

Fred Showker

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