Page 1 of 5 12345>
Topic Options
#1496882 - 12/17/06 03:22 PM What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online
pendragon1998 Offline
I was posting here when you were in diapers.

Registered: 03/10/06
Posts: 3583
Loc: Mississippi
What You Need to Know:
Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online Using Adobe Photoshop 7.0

By Michael Parrish (pendragon1998)
17 December 2006

[Click for larger version]


I describe and illustrate a basic procedure for using Adobe Photoshop 7.0 to create an eye-pleasing composite image of a coin's obverse and reverse from images captured by a digital camera. The techniques described in this article can be adapted to most standard image editors by users with a minimal level of experience.


Many beginning coin photographers struggle for many hours, days, or weeks before they are able to capture a coin photo they're satisfied with. Once that photo has been captured, they soon realize that they face a new problem: how to share it with their friends. A common way to display images today is by posting them on a coin message board or personal website. But how to format the photo so that it's easy on the eyes?

Roughly cropping the raw image to the bounds of the coin will yield quick-and-dirty results. Images like that show up regularly, but they're not going to impress anyone with their beauty. By simply mastering a few relatively simple image editing techniques, the coin photographer can present their new images in an attractive manner to anyone online.

The myriad of image editing tools in popular image editors such as Adobe Photoshop can be bewildering to the novice. Luckily for the beginning user, the task outlined above only requires a few simple tricks and methods which can be easily learned and will yield great results. Below, I demonstrate a common task for the coin photographer: take two raw images (obverse and reverse) of a coin and place them side-by-side on a black background for posting on a website.

I have included sample screen captures along side my instructions as another aid to the reader. To view them, simply click on the image, then click your browser's "back" button to return to the commentary.


Before I begin, I'd like to familiarize readers with a few basics that will make navigating through the image editor a little more understandable.

I sometimes refer to key combinations such as CTRL+A. This simply means "hold down 'CTRL' (control) and press the 'A' key."

I will regularly refer to menus (e.g. FILE or EDIT) and submenus (e.g. FILE >> NEW or IMAGE >> CROP).

I am assuming a basic understanding on the part of the reader of how to navigate through folders on the hard drive.


[Click for larger version] We will start by opening the newly captured image (straight out of the camera) of the coin's obverse into Photoshop. The photo contains a lot of extraneous junk that we don't need, such as the surrounding surface the coin was photographed on and the lamp reflector.
[Click for larger version] First, we will roughly crop the image down to a more manageable size. Begin by using the rectangular marquee tool to select an area a little larger than the coin. Then select IMAGE >> CROP to crop the image down to the selected size.
[Click for larger version] Now that you have a smaller area to work with, select the entire area with the rectangular marquee tool (CTRL+A is a quick way to select everything). Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, move the selection marquee down and right until it exactly contacts the top and left edge of the coin. Then select IMAGE >> CROP to crop the image again.
[Click for larger version] Repeat the previous step, this time moving the selected area up and left so that you contact the bottom and right edge of the coin. Crop it again.
[Click for larger version] Now you have an image the exact height and width of your coin. There's still a lot of extra background to be removed though. At this point, you may need to rotate your coin image if the design was turned around when you photographed it (mine was correctly rotated to begin with). Select IMAGE >> ROTATE CANVAS >> Arbitrary and then play around with rotating the coin clockwise or counter clockwise by different degrees of rotation until you are satisfied. You may need to crop the rotated image back down to the coin's height and width after you are through.
[Click for larger version] Now that your coin is correctly aligned and the image is the same height and width as your coin, determine the size of your image in pixels by going to IMAGE >> IMAGE SIZE and taking note of the Width and Height. Don't change anything here. Just remember the numbers and click CANCEL to return to your image.
[Click for larger version] Click and hold on the rectangular marquee tool to make the additional marquee tools pop up from under it. Select the eliptical marquee tool. At the top of the screen, select "fixed size" and enter the height and width you obtained in the previous step
[Click for larger version] Click somewhere in the image to place your selection marquee. Use the arrow keys to move it around until it fits exactly inside the image area. It should now be precisely surrounding the coin.
[Click for larger version] Go to EDIT >> COPY to create a copy of the image of the coin.
[Click for larger version] Go to FILE >> NEW to create a new image file. Input the same width and height if they're not already selected. Also select 'transparent' which will create a new image file with a transparent background color. Click OK.
[Click for larger version] When the new image file opens up, click EDIT >> Paste to paste the obverse image into the file. You now have a file containing the image of your coin on a transparent background. Go ahead and save this file for future use. I suggest saving it in a lossless format such as PhotoShop's proprietary format of .PSD* If you decide to save it as a .JPG at this point, save it at the maximum quality you can choose.
[Click for larger version] Next, repeat all of the previous steps with the raw image of your coin's reverse. Remember that your width and height may not be exactly the same as it was for the previous image; as long as they're close (within 10-12 pixels) everything should be fine. You're almost there!!
[Click for larger version] Once you have finished isolating your coin's reverse, click FILE >> NEW to create a new image file for what will become your composite image. Choose a width a little more than twice as wide as your image and a height a little larger as well. This will give you a little room to wiggle.
[Click for larger version] First, select the entire image of your obverse (SELECT >> ALL), then copy (EDIT >> COPY) and paste it into the new image file (EdIT >> PASTE). Using the rectangular marquee in normal mode (you may need to switch back to it from the Elliptical marquee and from "fixed size" mode), select an area enclosing the image. Hold down CTRL and drag the image where you want and release it.

Repeat with the coin's reverse image. When you paste it, the image will be within a different layer in the composite image, so just drag and drop it like the obverse isn't there. When the two images are where you want them, select LAYER >> MERGE VISIBLE. If you save the new composite image in .PSD format*, you can use it at a later time to create images with different background colors if you want.
[Click for larger version] Now, set your background color to the color you want to be behind your final image.** Next, select FILE >> NEW and specify the same width and length as your composite image. Be sure to select 'background color' on the menu. Click OK.
[Click for larger version] Go back to the composite image on a transparent background and click on SELECT >> ALL and then copy the selection.
[Click for larger version] Go to the new image with the colored background and click EDIT >> PASTE. Save this file in PSD format for future use.

You may now modify the size (IMAGE >> IMAGE SIZE) to create a smaller-sized version of this image for display on the internet. I like to make my images for message boards no wider than 850 pixels. When you have altered the size of your image to your satisfaction, click FILE >> SAVE FOR WEB
[Click for larger version] In the SAVE FOR WEB dialogue, choose a quality level. I suggest JPEG High or JPEG Medium. When you've selected your quality, click SAVE.
[Click for larger version] Choose a file name and make sure you've selected "Images only" under "Save as Type". Click SAVE.
[Click for larger version] The final result!


* At several points in the instructions, I suggest saving your file in Photoshop's proprietary format: ( filename.PSD ). Saving your file as a jpeg (filename.JPG) image can result in a loss of resolution, because JPG format compresses your image to conserve hard drive space. Saving in PSD format until you're ready to 'publish' your photo online enables you to preserve the most image quality prior to putting your image up online.

** Don't like your coin against a black background? Experiment with different colors once you've learned the techniques I discuss! Advanced users can also include a copy of a coin's slab certificate or insert their name or notes in the coin image. Once you've learned the basics, play with the software a little and see what you can do with it.

Copyright Notice:

This article is copyright (c) 2006 by Michael C. Parrish. All rights reserved.
If you wish to duplicate this article, please contact Michael via email at:

#1496883 - 12/17/06 03:26 PM Re: What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online [Re: pendragon1998]
pendragon1998 Offline
I was posting here when you were in diapers.

Registered: 03/10/06
Posts: 3583
Loc: Mississippi
If anyone finds a mistake here or thinks I should clarify a step, PM me. I may tweak the article here and there for the next day or two.

Hope everyone enjoys it!

I'd like to see results for people who are trying this for the first time, but...


Let's keep this thread readable, shall we?

Interested in buying PCGS MS69 Silver Britannias.
Have one? Please contact me.

#1496884 - 12/17/06 03:43 PM Re: What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online [Re: pendragon1998]
Amanda Offline

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 686
Loc: The North Pole
That's pretty much exactly what I do in a similar program, I just never saw it all spelled out before! That's a lot of steps.

Good job putting it all together.

My Coin Website

#1496885 - 12/17/06 03:54 PM Re: What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online [Re: Amanda]
JRocco Offline

Registered: 04/11/06
Posts: 603
Thanks for the time and effort you put into this really informative thread

Edited by JRocco (12/17/06 04:53 PM)

#1496886 - 12/17/06 03:59 PM Re: What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online [Re: pendragon1998]
IGWT Offline
I was posting here when you were in diapers.

Registered: 06/12/05
Posts: 3113
Michael: What a super presentation! Clear, concise, and well illustrated. Where were you when I spent hours learning to do this? Lots of folks are going to benefit from your effort.

#1496887 - 12/17/06 04:00 PM Re: What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online [Re: pendragon1998]
RWB Offline

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 11433
Loc: Virginia
PM sent

Edited by RWB (12/17/06 04:03 PM)

#1496888 - 12/17/06 04:16 PM Re: What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online [Re: RWB]
mgoodm3 Offline

Registered: 03/31/05
Posts: 106
When I cut the coin out I:

1. Use circular marquee to select out the coin.
2. Invert selection.
3. New fill layer, solid color
4. Choose color.
5. flatten image.

Do this to obv and rev and resize them.
create a new file in the approiate size, drag and drop the images.
Flatten the final image and save as a JPG.
link to my photo articles

#1496889 - 12/17/06 04:49 PM Re: What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online [Re: mgoodm3]
AzLarry Offline
If I just sell the car, I can up my bid...

Registered: 09/24/04
Posts: 156
Loc: Flagstaff, AZ
Thanks for the time and effort that you put in this post, very informative.

#1496890 - 12/17/06 05:01 PM Re: What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online [Re: AzLarry]
zoins Offline
If you have a dream about out-posting me, you better wake up and apologize.

Registered: 10/23/06
Posts: 2596
Good post Michael. Looks very complicated so I haven't gone through it step by step yet.

I basically do what mgoodm3 spelled out though I'm thinking about creating a background and adding a drop shadow effect to create my own version of TrueView

#1496891 - 12/17/06 07:40 PM Re: What You Need to Know: Digitally Matting Coins for Display Online [Re: pendragon1998]
Bruceswar Offline

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 8296
Loc: Mesquite, Tx
This is a cool demo for some one who has never done it. I do my differently but its simular.
Musicians Headquarters

Page 1 of 5 12345>

Moderator:  ngcmod, CCGmod0, PaulS., Keith Zaner, ccgmod1, jrich, cgcmod8, ccgmod2 
Hop to:
Boards Information
Please read the
for the rules of moderation on the boards.

Use Google to Search the Boards

The Money Marketplace
FS on CU -George III era coins, tokens and medals
by yarm
07:05 PM
New Coin Auctions at GreatCollections - 1889-CC NGC MS-60, Patterns
by ianrussell
01:48 AM
1889 Carson City Morgan. Good
by shadroch
01/19/17 03:21 PM
(C.1820) G.B. E-11396b WM Map of the world
by Endeavor1967
01/19/17 12:40 PM
Comics Marketplace
Sketch sale
by OV
Bronze Clearance - $1 to $3 mid grades sale
by ft88
09:37 PM
Supeman The Man of Steel #1-104 + Annuals / High Grade 1st Doomsday App - SOLD
by faster friends
07:31 PM
Mostly SA Marvel -- Also, a Little Gold & Bronze...
by TheComicsPreacher
07:16 PM

Generated in 0.019 seconds in which 0.003 seconds were spent on a total of 13 queries. Zlib compression enabled.