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Separating for a Fine-Art Look

(October 2013) posted on Wed Nov 06, 2013

Use index separations to make shirts ready for the runway.


By Thomas Trimingham

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The next step was to extract the design from the background. This file came flattened, so it was a little more of a challenge to define the edges. A combination of the Magic Wand, Color Range, and the Channels menu was used to create a version of the design that was separated from the background properly. Once the design was on the background, the client requested that a soft glow be put behind the edges of the design so it wouldn’t fade into the heather pattern of the gray shirt. When this was done, a sepia-tone effect was used on the design to make it look more rustic and give it an antique feel (Figure 4).

Index separation for the design
To separate the design, I created a duplicate of the file and then switched the image mode to index color. I made sure the preview was off and then selected the custom selection from the available palette menu in the index-color dialog box. I then edited the color table that popped up by clicking in the bottom right corner and dragging up to the top left corner and releasing the mouse. This action simulated the creation of the blend in the color table, but I just used it to quickly select white from the first color and also white as the last color so I could turn the whole table to white.

I then went in and selected the colors from the design to pop in as my index-table colors. A fast and effective way for me to do this was to pick my dark brown and then click and drag it over two color blocks and then select my lightest brown. Doing this created a smooth blend in my color table, from my dark to light colors, and saved a lot of time trying to click on just the right colors (Figure 5). Once I had my color table selected, I then saved it and allowed the conversion to index color to proceed. At first, it didn’t look very good, and I had to darken some of the middle brown colors and then add a lighter color; but after a few quick tweaks, it was looking good.


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