An Average Tip

I realized I left out a potential tip from yesterday’s post: how to get the average color from a sample in Photoshop. I got those “average” Fenway colors by taking my photos into Photoshop, selecting a portion of the image, and running the Average filter (Filter > Blur > Average).

If Abbott and Costello were still alive, they would no doubt have an “average filter” gag.

C: So you’re telling me, that the average filter blurs the selected pixels into one value.

A: That’s right.

C: Which filter?

A: Your average filter.

C: So I can pick any filter at all?

A: No, just the average one.

C: Can’t you be a little more specific?

A: Trust me, the average filter will do the trick.

C: Mister, if you don’t tell me exactly which filter I need, I’m going to slap you.

A: I already told you which one.

C: The average filter.

A: Precisely.


Creative Suite Vaudeville. Welcome to my mind.

Back to the tip in question. Say you wanted to get the average color of the scoreboard at Fenway.

Make a semi-careless selection of the colors you want to average.

With the Magic Wand, hold shift-option. This changes the tool mode to Intersect. You can tell by the little x next to the cursor.

Make sure that Contiguous is not selected in the Options bar. Then, when you click inside the selection, it will narrow to just the colors you want (the intersection of the original selection and what you’d get by just clicking with the Magic Wand).

Of course, this is Photoshop, so there are 10 other ways of doing this. Using Selection > Color Range is one, and it gives you a preview of what will be selected. But in this case I like the Magic Wand-intersect method because I don’t need to be 100% perfect, and its très quick. It’s literally 3 seconds: m (marquee), drag, w (wand), shift-option, click.

Then choose Filter > Blur > Average. The result is one uniform color that you can sample, make a swatch out of, etc.


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