Numismatic and History Discussions > Coin Photography, Conservation and Storage

Changing Image Background

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Schatz:

Hello, here I am again,

wrestling with my new photo editing programs.  After I learned how to stich images together with Ben’s help I took some new coin pics recently and proceeded to try and give them a black background with Gimp.  I managed to select the coin and then hit a black color sample in the bottom right corner of the screen.  My coin now had a black background.  Great, I thought, and saved the image.  When I checked it in my photo library it had a white background.  So I think what I did was somehow just give it a transparent background and save that.  After a couple more experiments I gave up and decided to ask for help again.

Incidentally, I did not get the new PE but downloaded Photoscape as well.  I was no more successful there than with Gimp.  I am sure it is just one little step that I am missing.  With my old PE the background change took just a few clicks.  The online tutorials for my new editing programs did not give any help for a simple background color change but showed more complicated substitutes of one image background with that of another involving layers again.  I know there must be a simple answer.  Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Thanks again,
Schatz

Heliodromus:
Hi,
Perhaps you somehow deleted the background after selecting the coin, resulting in a transparent background? You could try doing an Image->Flatten before saving, which merges all the layers getting rid of the alpha/transparency channel.

Ben

Schatz:
Thanks, Ben,

I'll play around with what you suggested and see if I can come up with a black background.  Will have plenty of time tomorrow, there is supposed to be a snow and sleet storm all day.

A lovely holiday week and a healthy New Year to all,
Schatz

Carausius:
I'm having similar background trouble with Photoshop.  Years ago, I would use the "bucket" function to dump white into coin photo backgrounds and it worked great.  That method stopped working for me a year or two ago.  Not sure if the program changed, or if I inadvertently changed a setting. Is there an easy way to change background color in Photoshop?  I'm not adept with "Layers".  If that's the only way, I guess I'll have to learn.

Heliodromus:
I use GIMP rather than Photoshop, but I'm sure concepts are basically the same. Bucket fill requires you to have first selected the area you want to fill, and the most obvious quick way to do that would be to use select-by-color to select the background, but this can be tricky/impossible to do acceptably depending on how different the background color(s) are from the coin.

The other alternative, rather than select-by-color, would be to cut around the coin either manually (GIMP has "free select") or with any kind of smart select/cutting tool that Photoshop provides. You don't need to follow every pixel-by-pixel nook and cranny of the edge of the coin - just zoom in to the point that you can make selection points that link sections of the edge that - at that level of zoom - are roughly straight.

As a third alternative, there's a website, remove.bg that I recently heard about that will automatically remove the background from various types of photo (not just coins) for you. There's a free tier of service and a paid one. You can at least try the free tier to see if you like the results.

https://www.remove.bg

Ben

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