There are things one can do to help with white backgrounds, but I've not
found one that is useful in *all* circumstances.

Begin with a good scan or photo, one where the white is close to the
highest value.

Then when processing in Photoshop, apply a Curves layer and slide the white
down to, or slightly INTO, the spike in the histogram on the white side.
If this changes the contrast in the main image, use the curves line to
change that.  It helps to put a couple points up near the whitest end to
prevent the white from being reduced in value when making changes elsewhere
on the curve.  This will work unless there are pale colors.

Another method you should experiment with is the Select > Color Range
tool.  You can use this two ways.  One is to select the white background
(the background is never completely white so you'll have to use the
+dropper), then either delete that or fill with white.  I'm continually
amazed at the times when I've hit the delete key and it gives me a pale
colored background.  Has to do with the droppers on the left, the blend
mode, and the opacity, etc., so recently I've just been going to File >
Clear.  Nothing else to check :).  The other way is to select the color in
the image, then reverse the selection and clear.  Often, however, no matter
how you do the selection with the Color Range, it will include part of the
image.  If this happens, and it's only a certain part, just add to or
delete from the main selection with one of the selection tools.  I usually
use the Polygonal Lasso to do this.  It sometimes helps to narrow the
"Fuzziness" slider on the Color Range tool, which selects a narrow range of

When all else fails, take the eraser tool and carefully erase around the
outside of the painting/image.  Change point size when needed and make sure
the eraser is at 100%.  (Duh, been there, done that.  Once.)  Just erase
out to about 50 pixels or so.  Start at one spot and move around the
outside of the image in one direction.  If there's a smallish closed-in
area, just erase out to where the white background is more open.  When
you've finished this, use the Polygonal Lasso tool, or similar,  to make
large selections out to the edge, and within the 50mpix erasures. Delete
back to background color, or go File>Clear.  Do this on a large scan of the
piece, as any small errors in erasure will be minimized when downsized for
the web.  If this is for a client, one just needs to be very careful in the
initial erasing.  A Wacom tablet helps a lot.  This is tedious, but it
works.  It won't take as long as you might suspect.  Others would use the
pen tool or one of the magnetic tools to do a selection, but I find the
eraser easier to correct, and much easier to stop using for a few minutes
to refresh my coffee :).

Hope this helps,

On Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 5:24 PM, Holly Butlett <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Great web site, and all looked white on my screen.  However, I would love
> to hear how to correct this- I have many problems with this.  Holly
> Sent from my iPad
> > On Mar 10, 2014, at 10:48 AM, Lynette Cook <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> >
> > I can verify it too now: they are white. I should have thought of this
> first. I grabbed your vireo image, opened it in Photoshop, then took my
> eyedropper tool to see what value the background has. It reads 255
> everywhere I check. You can't get whiter than that!
> >
> > Lynette
> >
> >> On Mar 10, 2014, at 8:41 AM, duboisworks wrote:
> >>
> >> Bruce:I checked out your watercolor images and where appropriate they
> are showing up white in the background. As to getting a white background ,
> I use a HP scanjet G4050 and the software is Photo Studio 6 which has built
> in where you can choose your background color.It works very well.
> >> Best
> >> Ann
> >
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Bruce Bartrug
Nobleboro, Maine, USA
[log in to unmask]

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but
because of those who look on and do nothing.  - Albert Einstein

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