What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online
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What You Need to Know:

Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online Using Adobe Photoshop 7.0 ®

By Michael Parrish (pendragon1998)

17 December 2006[/b]

 

[Click for larger version]

 

Summary:

 

I describe and illustrate a basic procedure for using Adobe Photoshop 7.0 to create an eye-pleasing composite image of a coin's obverse and reverse from images captured by a digital camera. The techniques described in this article can be adapted to most standard image editors by users with a minimal level of experience.

 

 

Introduction:

 

Many beginning coin photographers struggle for many hours, days, or weeks before they are able to capture a coin photo they're satisfied with. Once that photo has been captured, they soon realize that they face a new problem: how to share it with their friends. A common way to display images today is by posting them on a coin message board or personal website. But how to format the photo so that it's easy on the eyes?

 

Roughly cropping the raw image to the bounds of the coin will yield quick-and-dirty results. Images like that show up regularly, but they're not going to impress anyone with their beauty. By simply mastering a few relatively simple image editing techniques, the coin photographer can present their new images in an attractive manner to anyone online.

 

The myriad of image editing tools in popular image editors such as Adobe Photoshop can be bewildering to the novice. Luckily for the beginning user, the task outlined above only requires a few simple tricks and methods which can be easily learned and will yield great results. Below, I demonstrate a common task for the coin photographer: take two raw images (obverse and reverse) of a coin and place them side-by-side on a black background for posting on a website.

 

I have included sample screen captures along side my instructions as another aid to the reader. To view them, simply click on the image, then click your browser's "back" button to return to the commentary.

 

 

Notes:

 

Before I begin, I'd like to familiarize readers with a few basics that will make navigating through the image editor a little more understandable.

 

I sometimes refer to key combinations such as CTRL+A. This simply means "hold down 'CTRL' (control) and press the 'A' key."

 

I will regularly refer to menus (e.g. FILE or EDIT) and submenus (e.g. FILE >> NEW or IMAGE >> CROP).

 

I am assuming a basic understanding on the part of the reader of how to navigate through folders on the hard drive.

 

 

Procedure:

 

[Click for larger version] We will start by opening the newly captured image (straight out of the camera) of the coin's obverse into Photoshop. The photo contains a lot of extraneous junk that we don't need, such as the surrounding surface the coin was photographed on and the lamp reflector.
[Click for larger version] First, we will roughly crop the image down to a more manageable size. Begin by using the rectangular marquee tool to select an area a little larger than the coin. Then select IMAGE >> CROP to crop the image down to the selected size.
[Click for larger version] Now that you have a smaller area to work with, select the entire area with the rectangular marquee tool (CTRL+A is a quick way to select everything). Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, move the selection marquee down and right until it exactly contacts the top and left edge of the coin. Then select IMAGE >> CROP to crop the image again.
[Click for larger version] Repeat the previous step, this time moving the selected area up and left so that you contact the bottom and right edge of the coin. Crop it again.
[Click for larger version] Now you have an image the exact height and width of your coin. There's still a lot of extra background to be removed though. At this point, you may need to rotate your coin image if the design was turned around when you photographed it (mine was correctly rotated to begin with). Select IMAGE >> ROTATE CANVAS >> Arbitrary and then play around with rotating the coin clockwise or counter clockwise by different degrees of rotation until you are satisfied. You may need to crop the rotated image back down to the coin's height and width after you are through.
[Click for larger version] Now that your coin is correctly aligned and the image is the same height and width as your coin, determine the size of your image in pixels by going to IMAGE >> IMAGE SIZE and taking note of the Width and Height. Don't change anything here. Just remember the numbers and click CANCEL to return to your image.
[Click for larger version] Click and hold on the rectangular marquee tool to make the additional marquee tools pop up from under it. Select the eliptical marquee tool. At the top of the screen, select "fixed size" and enter the height and width you obtained in the previous step
[Click for larger version] Click somewhere in the image to place your selection marquee. Use the arrow keys to move it around until it fits exactly inside the image area. It should now be precisely surrounding the coin.
[Click for larger version] Go to EDIT >> COPY to create a copy of the image of the coin.
[Click for larger version] Go to FILE >> NEW to create a new image file. Input the same width and height if they're not already selected. Also select 'transparent' which will create a new image file with a transparent background color. Click OK.
[Click for larger version] When the new image file opens up, click EDIT >> Paste to paste the obverse image into the file. You now have a file containing the image of your coin on a transparent background. Go ahead and save this file for future use. I suggest saving it in a lossless format such as PhotoShop's proprietary format of .PSD* If you decide to save it as a .JPG at this point, save it at the maximum quality you can choose.
[Click for larger version] Next, repeat all of the previous steps with the raw image of your coin's reverse. Remember that your width and height may not be exactly the same as it was for the previous image; as long as they're close (within 10-12 pixels) everything should be fine. You're almost there!!
[Click for larger version] Once you have finished isolating your coin's reverse, click FILE >> NEW to create a new image file for what will become your composite image. Choose a width a little more than twice as wide as your image and a height a little larger as well. This will give you a little room to wiggle.
[Click for larger version] First, select the entire image of your obverse (SELECT >> ALL), then copy (EDIT >> COPY) and paste it into the new image file (EdIT >> PASTE). Using the rectangular marquee in normal mode (you may need to switch back to it from the Elliptical marquee and from "fixed size" mode), select an area enclosing the image. Hold down CTRL and drag the image where you want and release it.

 

Repeat with the coin's reverse image. When you paste it, the image will be within a different layer in the composite image, so just drag and drop it like the obverse isn't there. When the two images are where you want them, select LAYER >> MERGE VISIBLE. If you save the new composite image in .PSD format*, you can use it at a later time to create images with different background colors if you want.

[Click for larger version] Now, set your background color to the color you want to be behind your final image.** Next, select FILE >> NEW and specify the same width and length as your composite image. Be sure to select 'background color' on the menu. Click OK.
[Click for larger version] Go back to the composite image on a transparent background and click on SELECT >> ALL and then copy the selection.
[Click for larger version] Go to the new image with the colored background and click EDIT >> PASTE. Save this file in PSD format for future use.

 

You may now modify the size (IMAGE >> IMAGE SIZE) to create a smaller-sized version of this image for display on the internet. I like to make my images for message boards no wider than 850 pixels. When you have altered the size of your image to your satisfaction, click FILE >> SAVE FOR WEB

[Click for larger version] In the SAVE FOR WEB dialogue, choose a quality level. I suggest JPEG High or JPEG Medium. When you've selected your quality, click SAVE.
[Click for larger version] Choose a file name and make sure you've selected "Images only" under "Save as Type". Click SAVE.
[Click for larger version] The final result!

 

Footnotes:

 

* At several points in the instructions, I suggest saving your file in Photoshop's proprietary format: ( filename.PSD ). Saving your file as a jpeg (filename.JPG) image can result in a loss of resolution, because JPG format compresses your image to conserve hard drive space. Saving in PSD format until you're ready to 'publish' your photo online enables you to preserve the most image quality prior to putting your image up online.

 

** Don't like your coin against a black background? Experiment with different colors once you've learned the techniques I discuss! Advanced users can also include a copy of a coin's slab certificate or insert their name or notes in the coin image. Once you've learned the basics, play with the software a little and see what you can do with it.

 

Copyright Notice:

 

This article is copyright © 2006 by Michael C. Parrish. All rights reserved.

If you wish to duplicate this article, please contact Michael via email at: pendragon1998@yahoo.com.

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If anyone finds a mistake here or thinks I should clarify a step, PM me. I may tweak the article here and there for the next day or two.

 

Hope everyone enjoys it!

 

I'd like to see results for people who are trying this for the first time, but...

 

PLEASE LIMIT ANY PHOTOS YOU POST TO 850 PIXELS WIDE!!

 

Let's keep this thread readable, shall we?

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That's pretty much exactly what I do in a similar program, I just never saw it all spelled out before! That's a lot of steps.

 

Good job putting it all together. thumbsup2.gif

 

-Amanda

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Thanks for the time and effort you put into this really informative thread thumbsup2.gif

Edited by JRocco

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Michael: What a super presentation! Clear, concise, and well illustrated. Where were you when I spent hours learning to do this? wink.gif Lots of folks are going to benefit from your effort.

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Michael,

PM sent

Edited by RWB

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When I cut the coin out I:

 

1. Use circular marquee to select out the coin.

2. Invert selection.

3. New fill layer, solid color

4. Choose color.

5. flatten image.

 

Do this to obv and rev and resize them.

create a new file in the approiate size, drag and drop the images.

Flatten the final image and save as a JPG.

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Thanks for the time and effort that you put in this post, very informative.

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Good post Michael. Looks very complicated so I haven't gone through it step by step yet.

 

I basically do what mgoodm3 spelled out though I'm thinking about creating a background and adding a drop shadow effect to create my own version of TrueView wink.gif

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What a great post! I started doing something similar about a month ago and have slowly started replacing all the photos in my registry set. One of the things slowing me down was trying to cut-out the coin using the circular selection tool. Your tips will help speed this up. Now I'm motivated to finally finish updating and improving my photos.

 

Also, if someone is looking for a tool to do the photo editing without having to purchase one, there is a great freeware tool available that you can pretty much do everything that is mentioned here in this post. Another member of the registry turned me onto this software. It is called GIMP and can be downloaded from here:

 

Official GIMP Site

 

Thanks again for the great post! thumbsup2.gif

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Thanks for the post but there are quicker ways to achieve this, for instance once I crop the image close to the coin edges I use the elliptical tool to crop the circular image then hit edit, copy. I then hit new and select copy from clipboard. You can then click on the area outside of the coin with the paintbucket tool to fill in the background color you have selected. Once you do this to the reverse and resize the images you can click on new and panorama and create it. Of couse you then have to save it to a jpg file.

Edited by IrishMike

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Thanks for the post but there are quicker ways to achieve this, for instance once I crop the image close to the coin edges I use the elliptical tool to crop the circular image then hit edit, copy. I then hit new and select copy from clipboard. You can then click on the area outside of the coin with the paintbucket tool to fill in the background color you have selected. Once you do this to the reverse and resize the images you can click on new and panorama and create it. Of couse you then have to save it to a jpg file.

 

My method is quite similar using Photoshop Elements 4.0 - except that I just cut out the coin using the elliptical tool (hold down the "shift" key and it makes a circle rather than an ellipse), then create a new file with the background color I want, and use the "move" tool to drag the coin onto the new background. That's how I did the pic in my sigline and my avatar, along with virtually all of my coin photos in the past couple of years.

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Thanks, Michael --a very useful post!

 

I do something similar to your procedure but use the elliptical marquee tool (with shift key down to get a circular marquee) at the beginning then cut and paste the coin image into a new file with black background, etc.

 

Your instructions would have saved me a lot of time experimenting with Photoshop.

 

Rich

 

 

btw1951d66c2cd.jpg

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I'd like to note that I wasn't necessarily aiming to create the fastest approach to this task. Rather, I wanted a simple approach (i.e. fewest tools/skills needed) as well as one that would be flexible and robust.

 

While several of you have suggested using a circular crop, the actual shape of the coin should be a consideration. If the coin was in any position than right in the center of the original photograph, the apparent shape of the coin would be elliptical, rather than circular; thus, a circular crop would either add extraneous material or remove part of the coin. Depending on the degree of skew, this may or may not be much of a problem.

 

I also included a step where the user saves an uncompressed image of the coin against a transparent background, which can come in handy later if they want to easily change backgrounds or do other tasks (e.g. overlap both images for an aesthetic effect). Keeping an uncompressed version of the coin by itself can also come in handy later if the user needs the highest resolution version available for some purpose.

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This was really helpful. I actually downloaded the trial version for Adobephotoshop CS2 and used these instructions. Just played with a panda coin I had a picture of in it's plastic holder and the Obv & Rev as 2 different pictures. This is what I came up with!! Great help topic!! thumbsup2.gif

pandafrtrev.jpg

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I use adobe elements photoshop 4.0 as is cost only $75 or $80. It doesn't matter whether or not the coin is centered in the photo. I am saying this only so folks don't scared off of the program or worry too much about centering their coin as I adjust it according to light.

 

If you closely crop the photo to begin with then use the elliptical tool and adjust the cross arrows near the nw corner of the photo all you have to do is drag it and you can line it up to the edges. I don't use the shift key as I find after a few attempts you can really get good at just dragging and dropping it. Here is a result on a white background. site1108.jpg

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If you're using Photoshop Elements 4.0, you can use the Magic Extractor to clip coins. My avatar was created from a US Mint image of the gold Buffalo using Magic Extractor. It's a real neat tool and works very nicely on my Mac!

 

For anyone who wants to edit images and do not need RAW image support, the Photoshop Elements is a great program. It can do almost everything that CS2 can do for a fraction of the price. AND, if you are connected with any educational institution, you can buy it using an academic discount from a place like Academic Superstore (I am not associated with them except as being a satisfied customer).

 

Scott hi.gif

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For anyone who wants to edit images and do not need RAW image support, the Photoshop Elements is a great program.

 

Even if you do use RAW images, not only does Elements provide a (albeit crude) raw interface, but it also supports front-end RAW processing via Capture (which is the way I use it) or other RAW processors (via TIFF import). IMHO, the full Photoshop CS is overkill for 95+% of coin photos, and Elements should be more than enough for the vast majority of users...Mike

 

p.s. great post, pendragon!

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The one thing I would add is to do a file save as for the web. I seem to get better JPG results from this. It also allows you to set the size, like 50kb so that they will be accepted by some web sites that have size limits.

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testing image 1564236-IMG_0515_edited.jpg

1564236-IMG_0515_edited.jpg.183b9259615305affafd140ccc36e55b.jpg

Edited by Dcoin

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If you want to get a bit fancy you can add images into the background...
I really like that. I love how you use a picture of the coin itself as the background so each coin has a different one. Great job!

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