Photoshop: How do I create a truly transparent background?

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  • Updated 4 years ago
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I am drawing pics that have lots of cars on a road and I need to get the angles of the cars right. I have some toy model cars that I take photos of and then import them into Photoshop to trace and modify. It's hard to get the angles of the cars right when I take the photos, I have no reference so it's trial and error. What I would like would be if I could have my road and background on Photoshop and make that semi-opaque, and have, underneath that, the live camera screen on the Mac application Photobooth. That way I could move the car models around and get the angles right on the road and then snap the photo. It's an old idea in photography where you actually had a transparency with a line drawing taped to the back of a 4x5 camera like a Speed Graphic to line up subjects. The problem I have is that (using Photoshop CC on a Macbook Pro running Snow Leopard) when I make up a new project the only options for a background are white, background color and transparent, and transparent has grids.

If the transparent setting gave you a truly transparent background I'd be all set. Any ideas how I can do this?
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ian taylor

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Posted 4 years ago

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ian taylor

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why is the pic I uploaded all black? I'll try again....
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ian taylor

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I don't know why my photo's colors got inverted when I uploaded it.
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Chris Cox

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The image looks just fine in my browsers.
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Chris Cox

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Your image is a JPEG.
JPEG does not support transparency in any way.

To make this transparent in a browser, you would have to save it as a PNG (that can support transparency), or a GIF file (which supports just one color being fully transparent).
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Chris Cox

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I'm really not sure if you can use custom overlays in PhotoBooth.

And we can't really make the window transparent over other applications (without hitting a lot of known issues in the OS).
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ian taylor

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Thanks, I will just trace the lines (just the road and the horizon on tracing paper or mylar) and tape that to the screen of the laptop. -Ian
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ian taylor

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It appears that in Photoshop I have actually made a transparent background, and I was able to do that with the tools in Preview as well. I understand that jpg's won't work so i used a png that supports transparencies. The problem seems more to find some way of displaying the transparency without adding a white background. A prehistoric way would be to tape tracing paper to my computer's screen that I'd traced some basic lines on.