Cutting a Photo out of Background-Tutorial

I found the infographic on page 62-63 of Best American Infographics 2013 to be very interesting. That got me thinking about how to cut out faces, or whole objects, out of the background like they did with the politicians. I chose to use photoshop for this and found this very helpful video tutorial that guided me through the motions.

I found it hard to make the edges look clean and curved, and there are many tools he was using to create the finished project. The hair especially is very troublesome. But I got the overall process and was able to produce something. This is definitely not my final product, but it was a good practice.

addie cutout test




Tea Infographic/Tutorial

Tea Infographic/Tutorial

This info graphic was found on, and I chose it for its simplicity and subject matter. As you can see, the layout of this info graphic is visually appealing without containing a slew of high-tech aspects. It would seem, at least to me, that most of us could manage something of this nature, provided with the right research and channel of thought. It is evidently straightforward, presenting the audience with an organized list of statistics about tea, in order corresponding to size (which is directly related to importance) that catches the eye and moves the eye in a fluid manner. The main points of interest should be the subject, and the overall message that the author/artists is attempting to convey, both of which are present here.

In order to create something that resembles this, you will need to obviously do the preparation work that entails gathering facts, fonts, and pictures that you like and believe are appropriate for this subject. Then, if you enter into Photoshop and create a background layout, the information and pictures can simply be inserted through a step by step process on top of a background:

1. Upload the picture of your choosing
2. Now load the image you want to add as another separate download/document
3. Select the document or hit control –> A in order to reposition it
4. Do a split screen (make both windows take up the whole screen equally, half & half) and select the picture that you want in order to place it into the desired layout
5. Photoshop will put this into a new “layer” which you can now edit on the bottom right of the program, and the layer number should highlight when the picture is clicked on in the editor
6. In order to get everything on the same layer, you will have to adjust the layer settings (choose merge) once you’re done arranging your pictures.

Happy Photoshopping!


Trick: Blend Photos Together

I found this infographic online and was wondering how artists were able to effortlessy blend photographs together using a program like Photoshop. Although this infographic doesn’t really have two equally blended photographs, this sparked my interest in how to do it. I think it would be an interesting and visually pleasing addition to my infographic. I found the infographic at: .


My trick is how to blend photos like a Hollywood movie poster using Photoshop CS6. I used a tutorial that I found online at this link:

I started with two images. The first image is a surprised-looking girl, which I found here: The second is a pile of food, which I found here:





Although much of this is written in the tutorial, here are the basic steps for creating the image:

Move both images into the same document. Use the Move tool to drag one image into the same document as the other image.


Resize and reposition the photos as needed using the Free Transform (Command + T on a Mac) command.


Add a layer mask by selecting Layer 1 and clicking Add Layer Mask at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Select the gradient tool and choose the black to white gradient. Drag out a black to white gradient on the layer mask by clicking near the intersection of the two photos, holding down shift, and dragging down to where you want the blend to end.



Here’s the picture they included about how to drag out the gradient on the layer mask:


Merge both layers onto a new layer by holding down Shift + Command + Option + E on a Mac.

Add Noise by choosing Filter, Noise, and then Add Noise. Change the Distribution to Gaussian and check Monochromatic. Set the Amount between values 2 and 6 percent. Add enough noise to get a uniform texture without making the image overly grainy.


This was the last step in the tutorial that I followed. The next steps tell you how to change the image to black and white and how to add a hue or saturation adjustment layer, neither of which I desired for my image.

Here’s how the image turned out:


I’m no expert, but I think it’s pretty good for my first try! The more I practice, the better I think I’ll be able to utilize this trick. Hopefully this will be helpful for others as we begin to work on our infographic projects.

The tutorial is very easy to follow– check it out!

Sample Trick: Text as Image (with photo).

I started from the Creative Commons search page, looked for images of “people moving night,” and eventually selected this one from Flickr user bcbeatty, which has a license that allows me to remix it, as long as I give credit and allow others to remix my work.

I then cropped the image to get a wide banner of just the people. After that, I clicked on the “image” menu, then under “mode” I clicked “grayscale” to get rid of the existing color information (this left me with a black and white image). Then I went back into “mode” and selected “Duotone;” from all the color options, I picked “cyan bl 1.” That left me with a tinted version that looked like this (you can see that I still have the crop tool highlighted):

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.09.26 PM

Then I put the word “Public” on top of my image. You can see that I selected the typeface Stencil STD, size 280. You can also see (look to the tool bar on the right) that I manually made the letters closer together than they would be with standard typesetting.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.19.18 PM

Next, I held down the shift key and used the magic wand tool (right above the crop tool) to select all the pieces of all my letters. After I had done this, I went to the “Select” menu and clicked inverse. I had everything except my letters selected. After this, I looked at my layers on the right—I wanted to be sure the background layer was the one I was working with. It was. I clicked delete* (if you’re using a PC, this won’t work; you can use the “cut” command in the edit menu instead). I looked for a second like I just had a white screen with letters selected on it.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.27.44 PMBut then I deleted the layer with the white text in it, and I had this left (you can check if this is going to work by just clicking the little eyeball next to the text layer, which makes it invisible):

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.29.09 PM

Then I picked a contrasting typeface and added the phrase “writing for the…” to my public:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.35.09 PMIf I was going to make this the header for my infographic, I’d save it as a photoshop file (.psd), so that I could edit all the layers and the text later. If I was done for now and wanted to email it to someone to check out or post it to the blog, I’d save it is a second, smaller file too—I’d click “File” > “Save for Web & Devices.” I might then pick to save a version as a medium quality .jpeg file.

If you didn’t click the link before, consider now that this is the photo I started from:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.42.19 PM

Beyond using this technique for lettering, I might find it useful as a way of giving a little bit of extra visual intrigue to something like a bar graph or pie chart (just be careful not to compromise utility/readability too much in the interest of cool).

Due Sunday Feb. 2: A Trick and Your Use of It

You may either produce your own blog post for Sunday or produce one with a partner. Your job is to:

(1) Find a cool infographic online that includes an element that you might realistically be able replicate and share a link to it. OR select one from BAI 2013 and refer your classmates to it. These links from your syllabus offer some places to look for infographics: GOODinformation is beautiful, & flowing data (you might also search for particular kinds of infographics using Pinterest or Google images).

(2) EITHER (a) Explain how you would create a similar effect in Photoshop using your own words and screenshots OR (b) find an existing photoshop tutorial that teaches a relevant trick and post a link to it. If you select option (b), you should take yourself through the tutorial before committing to sharing it. Begin work on something you might actually want to use. Let your classmates know about any snags you run into and share at least one screenshot of your work-in-progress–it doesn’t have to be beautiful, just a record of a test. 

* I am open to you sharing a trick for doing something cool and relevant in a program other than Photoshop, but it should be something open-source or available on lab computers—and your trick shouldn’t be something everyone already knows. 

* You’ll probably want to use your blog author privileges to create a new post rather than replying to this one. Images and other media are tough to manipulate in reply boxes. Make sure to add your post to the category “tutorials,” so it is easy for classmates to find. 

* No comments are required this week, but I expect you’ll look at all the posts and check out a few relevant tutorials. Either as part of this blog post or as you work, you may choose to explore Adobe’s set of video tutorials:

Prepping for Week 3 – Evocative Object pieces

Each of you as an author has been asked (like the writers included in Turkle’s collection) to chose an object that is somehow related to your semester-long topic and to follow that object’s associations: where does it take you; what do you feel; what are you able to understand?

Please post one paragraph from your draft of proposal-part-one by 9PM on Sunday night. It need not be obvious what your topic is, but it should be apparent what your object is. Don’t worry about making a big social argument (yet)—instead, enthrall us, make us want to keep reading.  Before class on Tuesday, please read your peers’ paragraphs. Reply to at least two with: a specific question you have as a reader and/or a comment about something in the paragraph that makes you want to know more.  

*** If you’re having trouble selecting a topic and/or an object, I encourage you to email me. Tell me what you’re considering and/or a little bit about yourself. (What do you study? What kinds of things are you passionate about? What do you wish you knew more about?)

Links for in-class discussion on Jan. 14

Lisa B. Adams’ blog and her Twitter stream.

Bill Keller’s NY Times piece on Heroic Measures. And public editor Margaret Sullivan’s response to the conversations surrounding it.

Emma Keller’s Guardian article has been taken down, but comments are still up.

Zeynep Tufecki’s response to the Kellers on Social Media Is a Conversation, Not a Press Release

Megan Garber’s response on The Atlantic‘s website, On Live-Tweeting One’s Suffering, and one from Maryn McKenna via Wired, Former New York Times Editor, Wife Publicly Tag-Team Criticism of Cancer Patient. Ugh.

While I have been following Adams’ blog for awhile, I first became aware of the Keller article controversy when it showed up in Suleika Jaouad’s Twitter stream. An article she wrote (awhile back) on the decision to share cancer via social media appears here, also via the NY Times.

Purpose and Publicity: Who are we Writing For?

When we are writing “for the public,” it is implied that the piece has a specific purpose in trying to connect with its audience and benefit those who read it. The word “for” is key here. Writing for the public is done because the author believes that he or she has some information that is advantageous for the public to know, whether that be an important argument in the midst of a debate or a special report on doctors looking up their patients on the internet. When trying to cater to an audience this way, authors must think about what the public really wants to hear and needs to know in order to be successful in getting the message across. A report could be significant, but if it is not delivered in a style that is pleasing to the public, it won’t have the right effect anyway.

Take, for example, the multimedia piece on animal rights from the Rolling Stone magazine website. Including text, pictures, and video is a strong way to deliver a message since it caters both to audience members who like to read text and those who just want to see images. The destination guide used pictures, short descriptions and bright color schemes to appeal to readers, trying to ensure that the goal of attracting readers is reached.

An important distinction to make is that of the difference between writing for the pubic and writing publicly. Writing publicly is more narcissistic in the way that authors who do this are writing for their own personal expression and assuming that other people will care enough to read it. The purpose of writing publicly is simply to put one’s thoughts out there into the great abyss. Perhaps it will move someone else, but there is no specific intent.

This line can be quite fuzzy, however, as there are some similarities between the two.  Anything done publicly is fair game for all to see, and those who are putting their writing out there are aware of this. Thus, one could say that even if an author is writing publicly for self-expression, they want others to see it for some reason and must have motive for doing so. Likewise, writing for the public and public writing can both have the same end effect in swaying an audience. Those who write publicly may just be putting their opinions out there, but if they seem credible, readers may consider the piece as a source of information.

Social media forums walk the line, depending on what they are used for. Personal Twitter accounts are public writing, since tweeters are really just thinking out loud (or writing out loud). However, certain Twitter accounts are used for public relations and advertising, or even for putting up pictures of cute animals to make people smile. Similarly, autobiographies are written by authors to tell the story of their own life and to explain who they are. This seems like a case of writing publicly, but some autobiography authors believe that if others know their story and what they went through, it will help audience members get through their own struggles.

In my own opinion, the main difference between writing for the public and writing publicly is purpose. However, like I mentioned, purpose can be hard to discern, especially in today’s world of the Internet. It is so easy to make everything public, so how can we really decide the purpose of each and every piece of writing? Are we so inclined to think that others really care what we have to say, or can we really just want to express our opinions for the sake of expression? Authors will do what they choose, but it is up to the public to decide how to handle what they read.

Prepping for Week 2 – Definitions, Descriptions, Means of Connection

Over the weekend, think about the question: is there a difference between writing publicly and writing for the public (or for a particular public or for multiple publics)? Of course, my asking suggests that I think there might be. But, really, I ask this because I suspect there’s enough diversity and ambiguity inherent in our intuitive definitions of “public writing” to start a useful conversation.

This week’s blog post(s) should:

[1] Offer some observations that help bring together the disparate examples of “writing for the public” that your classmates shared. Try to be specific rather than general in your observations. I encourage you to explore—in some detail—one example (or two) that excited or surprised you; and/or to explore a specific example in relation to your own outside knowledge.

You might use one of the following questions as a starting place: Did any of the examples change or challenge ideas you had about the scope of this course? About what “counts” as writing for the public? Were there formal features that many of the examples had in common? Which examples were most memorable in terms of form? In terms of content? Were there any examples that you found upsetting in a way that made you want to take action? Many people mentioned “getting the word out” as a goal of public writing—what does that mean to you? Is raising awareness always a good thing? Is it ever/always enough? Did the context in which you encountered these articles (in our class, given your peers’ introductions) cause you to react differently than you might have if you had encountered the samples elsewhere? 

[2] Begin or conclude with: a concise, specific phrase that describes one thing “writing for the public” does (or could do, or should do). Include an interesting verb. Consider this part of a communally constructed working definition.

[3] Be composed in response to some preliminary thinking about what makes a “good” blog post. Think about what visual cues make online text more readable—consider using catchy/descriptive headers or subheaders and breaking big blocks of text into several small paragraphs.

Think about what makes readers likely to engage—to read all the way through and then (perhaps) comment. Talk about your peers’ interests in a smart/respectful way. Ask questions that might generate responses. Consider including links or images (either your own images or images that have appropriate Creative Commons licenses, something you may be familiar with/something we’ll talk about later in the semester).

[4] Be posted by 9PM on Sunday (January 12). Take into account the information about blogging that’s included on your syllabus. Proofread and spellcheck (while informal, inquisitive writing is encouraged, carelessness is not). Two comments responding to peers’ posts are due before class begins on Tuesday.

* If you haven’t already done so, please take the time to post a link to/description of your example on the previous post.