Due to very significant upgrades to the technology and features of WhiteBox™, this guide is now outdated. The new WhiteBox™ requires almost no editing at all! A simplified tutorial can be found here.
Want to get product photos with seamless white backgrounds that merge right into your website? Here’s how to do it under 2 minutes – for free!
What you need
- Our Plug & Play lightbox or a professional studio set-up
- Smartphone camera or better
For this ultra-simple tutorial, we’ll be exploring 2 ways to turn acceptable photos into product photos that leave an impression: the first is an instantaneous correction with the Microsoft Office Picture Manager that comes with Windows free of charge, and the second is a 2-minute procedure using Pixlr’s Online Web Editor.
Because your your lightbox has already taken care of proper lighting, we can simply shift the entire colour profile of the photo to correct the imperfections of your camera, which makes the process very quick and simple. We do this by setting the white point of the photo.
Our subject today is tricky: a pair of shiny, silver cufflinks with a violet jewel taken with poor exposure settings on a smartphone camera, which darkens the whole photo.
Shiny surfaces means that lighting must be very soft and even to avoid glare, and the light must be pure white to bring out the accurate colour of the jewel.
Instant correction with Microsoft Office Picture Manager
For this method, we’ll be using the one-click Enhance Colour feature of the Picture Manager to correct the colour profile.
Open the photo with Picture Manager. Click “Edit Pictures…”, “Colour”, then “Enhance Colour”.
Select a white, shadowless area near the product with the crosshair – the algorithm will do the rest!
This sets that area to white and adjusts the rest of the photo accordingly.
- Website ready in a second
- No expertise required.
- Edges are not completely white. Can be solved by cropping down until only the white area remains if product is small.
- Does not allow for further adjustments e.g making the jewel brighter
Sell like a Pro with Pixlr’s Web Editor
For this method, we’ll be using the powerful Pixlr Web Editor to correct the colour profile as well as make the edges white. The end-result is already 100% e-commerce ready – and in less than 2 minutes – but the Web Editor allows you to edit individual areas very easily if you are keen to.
While it may look lengthy, most of the instructions are describing the location of the buttons so that the procedure is idiotproof. The entire procedure takes 2 minutes – less after you have done it a couple of times!
Open the photo in the Web Editor. Right-click and duplicate the “Background” layer twice.
Name the top layer “Threshold” and the second layer “White point”.
We’ll be using the Threshold tool on the “Threshold” layer to find the darkest area (excluding shadows) in the immediate surroundings of your product. We will then set this area to white so that 1) the program will automatically correct the rest of the colours and 2) the immediate surroundings of your product will become pure white.
Select “Threshold” layer.
Select “Adjustment” tab >>”Threshold”. Your photo will become a series of white and black dots.
Drag the slider right to identify the darkest areas (excluding shadows) of the background around your subject.
We’ll set that area to white, and the program will correct all colours in the photo.
Uncheck the “Threshold” layer and select the “White point” layer.
Select “Adjustment” tab >> “Curves”, then select the white dropper on the pop-up.
Click on the darkest area of the subject’s immediate surroundings as identified by the “Threshold” layer.
Now, the background around the subject is pure white and the colours have been magically adjusted! However, the edges of the photo may not be completely white. This might create a faint border when used on a white website.
We are going to make only the area containing the product visible and everything else invisible, then place a white rectangle beneath it so that the entire background is white.
Create a new blank layer and name it “White edge”. Move this layer right under “White point”. Select it.
Select the Rectangle tool. Change the “Fill shape” colour to pure white.
Draw a rectangle larger than the canvas size. You will not be able to see any change yet because the “White point” layer is covering it.
On the “White point” layer, Right-click >> “Add layer mask”. This makes the layer invisible, revealing the white rectangle on the “White edge” layer under it.
Uncheck the “White edge” layer to reveal the “Background” layer. This layer will show us where the product is so that we know which part of the layer mask to make visible
Select the now invisible “White point” layer.
Using the visible “Background” layer as a reference, paint over the subject with a brush tool. The painted over area of the layer mask becomes visible again.
You should get something like this, in which only the subject and the pure white background in it’s immediate surroundings is visible.
Check the “White edge” layer to make it visible again. Now you have a studio-grade product picture with a seamless, white background.
Done – in under 2 minutes!
- Edges are completely white, making the subject appear to “float” on the webpage. Visitors feel like they can reach out and touch the product, making them more inclined to purchase.
- Allows for further enhancements e.g making the jewel more glamorous
- Same process can be used for any photo taken in our lightboxes
- No technical expertise required.
- Not instantaneous
We will adjust the colour of the jewel without affecting the rest of the picture by creating a layer containing only the jewels.
Duplicate the “White point” layer and move it to the top. Select it.
Using a magic wand tool, click on the jewels to select them, then right-click and “Add layer mask”.
Now this layer only contains the jewels.
We will make the violet more intense with the saturation tool. The layer mask keeps the rest of the photo unaffected.
Select Adjustment >> Hue and saturation. Drag saturation to 100.
Since the rest of the photo is monochromatic, we can remove all colour with the saturation tool to make the violet jewels stand out more.
Select “White point” layer.
Select Adjustment >> Hue and saturation. Drag saturation to 0.
Done – and ready to convince customers to purchase!
Comparing the different results
Can I repeat the steps above with other photos?
Unfortunately, this super-simple editing technique only works if you have photos taken in our lightbox or in some sort of studio set up. This is because it relies on the subject being lit properly – diffused light, of every colour (white), from multiple angles – to avoid the hassle of editing different areas individually.
Editing cannot introduce absent colours
If you shine blue light on a red object, it’ll appear black. This is because there is no red present in blue light to be reflected into our eyes for us to see the object’s true colour. While the example is an extreme, the same thing is at work when you photograph your subject in anything other than pure white light.
When you photograph your in slightly yellow light, for example, your photo is not capturing the full colour detail in areas that contain any amount of blue. This is impossible to reintroduce during editing. While you may rectify it with a colour balance adjustment, this can be rather arbitrary and will still not give a completely accurate colour profile of your subject. This is why photos taken with your ceiling light look unprofessional no matter how you edit them.
Because our lightbox provides pure white 5500K light, the full colour profile is already captured by your camera. What we are doing is simply shifting the entire colour profile to obtain a pure white background.
Correcting unevenly lit areas will take hours or even days
Unless you are using some sort of studio set-up with multiple lamps from different angles your subject will be unevenly lit, causing some areas to be darker than others. This means details in those areas are less obvious, which is not desirable when we want to showcase the full features of our products and make customers trust us.
While darker areas can be corrected with editing, differently areas have to be corrected separately, requiring dozens of layers and curve adjustments. The editing process is also subject to the eye and artistic skill of the editor so as to not look artificial.
Our Integrated LED Strip provides even lighting from every point along its length, which lights your product evenly. This way, we are able to edit the entire photo at once instead of individual, differently lit areas.
Harsh lighting causes permanent loss of product details
Harsh lighting is highly directional light, like that from a lamp or torchlight. Harsh lighting only reflects strongly from surfaces at a certain angle to your camera, causing those surfaces to be unusually bright i.e causes glare.
In subtle cases, it has to be corrected similarly to unevenly lit photos – with dozens of layers and hours of your time. Usually though, and especially for smoother subjects, it causes a permanent loss of detail. The bright surfaces appear so bright that the shadows defining product detail is lost. On the other hand, all other surfaces reflect very little light, causing them to be very dark. The overall effect is a high contrast picture that loses details in both bright and dark surfaces. While great for select artistic shots, it does not tell your customers about your product.
Because of the matte surface of our lightbox, light that bounces off the walls onto your subject becomes diffused i.e coming from all directions. This means that every surface is lit almost evenly, regardless of its angle to your camera.
Great photos always start with a good set-up. This is why many professional photographers are still making a living off taking product pictures for retail stores. Our lightbox simplifies these professional setups into a Plug & Play studio so that you can do it yourself!