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Adobe Photoshop Tutorials: How to Make Your Own ID Picture Using Adobe Photoshop

Have you ever needed an ID photo but didn't want to spend money to go to the studio? Well, you can take your own picture at home and edit it to make a 1"x1" ID photo.

All you need is a digital camera and a computer with Adobe Photoshop or some other photo-editing software installed. If you're taking the picture yourself, you'll also need a tripod or a tabletop. Here's how to do it.

Step 1: Taking The Shot

For those who already have an old digital photo that you want to use, you may proceed to step 2. But for those who don't, let's begin by taking a shot.

Find a suitable place in your house. Check the following:


There should be enough light in the room, be it sunlight or fluorescent light. If harsh sunlight streams into the room, you might want to draw thin curtains to soften the light. Try to even out the light in the room by placing light sources (lamps, if you have them) in all corners.


Find a room with a plain wall for your background. This will make editing the photo easier later on. Don't worry if it's not the right color (some IDs require a specific color for the background, like blue for instance), you can always change it using Adobe Photoshop later on. If your house has printed wallpaper, find the least cluttered design to simplify editing.

Position yourself in a comfortable position in front of the camera (placed on a tripod or tabletop). If there is nobody to take your picture for you, use the camera's timer feature to take the shot.

Experiment with different camera settings until you find the best output. For example, take one with the flash and another without the flash. Use the auto feature and then try the manual settings. The more pictures you take, the better the chances you'll find one that you'll really like.

Step 2: Editing the Photo

Upload all the shots to your computer and find the best one. Once you have selected the photo that you want to use, right-click on the thumbnail and select Edit with Photoshop (or you can use whatever photo editing software you have, but I will be using Photoshop for this purpose).

Create a copy of the photo by going to Select > All, then Edit > Copy. Open a new document and click on Edit > Paste. You now have a copy of the original photo. Close the window of the original photo.

Depending on the shot that you have taken, you may want to do several things. You may want to adjust the exposure if the picture turned out too light or too dark. You may want to even out the shadows and highlights. But let's take this case as an example.

The first picture is the original photo. Notice that the lighting is uneven. There was a window to the left of the subject, and there were no lamps to put on the other side to even out the lighting.

The subject could've been positioned facing the window, but the background would've been a closet with painted designs; a plain background was needed to make editing easier. So first, the level of shadow/highlight of the photo had to be "fixed".

Balance Shadows and Highlights

To balance out the exposure of the dark areas (shadows) and the light areas (highlights), I used the Shadow/Highlight feature of Adobe Photoshop. You can find it by clicking Edit > Adjustments > Shadow/Highlight. The default values load when you select this feature. Adjust the values until you get the correction that you need.

Crop the Image

Next, I needed to crop the picture into a square shape. So I used the Crop feature which by default can be found in the toolbar on the left side of your working space. To maintain a fixed ratio of 1:1 (i.e. the height and width are the same), I held down the Shift key while clicking and dragging over the portion of the photo that I wanted to use.

Remove the Background

If you're lucky enough to have a wall the color of the background you need, then you can proceed to the next step. But in this case, the background is yellow and a blue background is needed, so I had to remove all the yellow. I did this using two methods:

  1. I used the magnetic lasso tool in Adobe Photoshop to select the parts that I want to remove.
  2. Then for the areas where the color of the foreground and background were too much alike to use the magnetic lasso with, I manually erased around the edges using the Eraser tool. Both the magnetic lasso and Eraser can be found in the toolbar on the left side of the workspace.
  3. Next, I cleaned up the jagged edges left by the magnetic lasso tool. I zoomed in really close and used the Eraser tool to smoothen out the edges pixel by pixel. This may take time, but it will greatly contribute to a more professionally-done-looking photo.

Add a New Color Background

Now that we have removed the original background, we are ready to add a new one. First, create a new layer by clicking Layer > New > Layer. On the layers tab on the lower right corner of your workspace, click and drag the new layer so that it is under the layer of your photo. Go to Edit > Fill and select the color you want for your background. In my case, I needed blue.

Adding a Gradient Effect

You can also put a gradient effect to your background so that it's lighter in some areas and darker in some. In our example, I used a radial gradient: The center circle is the lightest getting darker as it reaches the edges of the background. Watch the video below for a demonstration on how to create gradients.

Resize the Image

Lastly, you need to resize the image to the size that you need. Go to Image > Image Size and specify the height and width in inches (1"x1" or 2"x2" depending on the size that you need), and change the resolution to 300 pixels per inch to ensure that your photo is printed in high resolution.

Ready to Print

You now have an ID picture. Just take it to your nearest photo printing lab, and they'll print it right out in seconds. It's much less expensive than going to the photo studio and having your picture taken professionally, but it's just as good.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


jubair meenangadi on February 26, 2017:

very good

Darwin on August 24, 2014:

I would like to know the tools required to make an ID Card with boxes. When I tried with the rectangular Marquees tool it didn't work.

Chuck Malhab from Canada on November 06, 2012:

This is really new information for me. I'm expert in photoshop with at least 10 years of experience and I still find something new. Thank you for your info.

Lex on August 04, 2012:

thanks for the info. :)

Marian on May 02, 2012:


Vivek on January 28, 2012:

nice tutorial..but if there was a more easy one it would be

10X nicer

tiagoz on January 13, 2012:

This is a very useful resource. I am used to doing it in different ways but I like the way you do it. Congrats and thank you for sharing it

InduswebiTech from Rama Road, Kirti Nagar, New Delhi, India on January 06, 2012:

OMG... very descriptive but why you didn't used the term ctr+j to copy a thumbnail rather than using your right click and then selecting copy/paste option from drop down list .. i could also write a hub on the same topic.. ..

never the less great effort...

kareena kapoor on October 29, 2011:

she is nice and she chammak challo dance picture very beautiful

htodd from United States on September 03, 2011:

This is really great post...Thanks for the great hub..

adult costumes on August 09, 2011:

Thanks for sharing. Was looking to create a spoof ID card for our website and am not sure if it's going to be an easy project.

dsmythe on February 17, 2011:

I can see this coming in handy for a Halloween costume. Thanks for hubbing this!

billrobinson from CA, USA on November 30, 2010:

This has been a helpful hub! Thanks for posting. on October 18, 2010:

This is fantastic. I never would have thought to do this. great hub.

You can visit this site for photoshop tutorial....

lahoriamplifier from Lahore on July 28, 2010:

Thanks for the hub

Susan Ng Yu (author) on June 03, 2010:

Thanks, blake4d. :) Most of the basic Photoshop skills I also learned by experimenting, although some I learned from Photoshop tutorial videos. :)

Susan Ng Yu (author) on June 03, 2010:

Hi, ss sneh. :) I used to zoom up really close and erase manually using the Eraser tool, but now I've learned how to use layer masks in Photoshop CS3. After selecting the area you want to keep using the magnetic lasso tool, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection. (Or if you've selected the area you want to remove, choose Hide Selection.)

This is better because you can still fine tune, in case you accidentally erased someone's ear in the photo and wanted to restore it for instance, by clicking on the Layer Mask Thumbnail in your Layers palette and using the brush tool to reveal more (if the color white is selected in your Tools palette) or hide more (if the color black is selected). :)

ss sneh from the Incredible India! on June 01, 2010:

Hi! Removing the back ground has always been difficult in designing. you said you use the magnetic lasso tool and then where the color of the foreground and background were too much alike you manually erase. How do you do this? Do you magnify the image to say 600% and erase or do you use any other trick? --Thanks

blake4d on May 29, 2010:

Very cool Susan, I love Photoshop and I have been using since OMG Photoshop 3.0 on Mac and PC. Most of my real learning always came from just experimenting and repeating. Love to see tutuorials on this software, Keep on Hubbing. Blake4d

uns on May 12, 2010:

good looking smart cool

Logo Design Gear on April 10, 2010:

Thanx for the posting.

yhan on February 01, 2010:

thankz a lot 4 the tutorial......

Firedrone on January 13, 2010:

Thank you, Thank you! ^_^ This was very helpful.

John on November 30, 2009:

You can create valid id photo with website.

It knows numerous passport standards and print sizes.

It uses face detection so very easy to use.

Philipine allstars on November 05, 2009:

wow! i like your idea on how to make an id!

x300 from casa on August 25, 2009:


zain on June 30, 2009:

hey thanks awsome..

Pastor_Walt from Jefferson City, Tennessee on May 16, 2009:

Thumbs up from a new fan. I use photoshop a lot - hobby! Thanks for the info!

Susan Ng Yu (author) on May 11, 2009:

Thanks, blondepoet. :)

blondepoet from australia on May 10, 2009:

Wow some really great tips here. It looks like you have a lovely husband too.:)

Susan Ng Yu (author) on May 08, 2009:

Oh hi, Grace. I didn't know you were in hubpages. :-) Yes, the model is my husband. :-)

ezguides from Boston on May 07, 2009:

Is the 'model' your hubby?

Susan Ng Yu (author) on April 22, 2009:

Good idea, GlobalizeThis. Thanks. :-)

Susan Ng Yu (author) on April 16, 2009:

I've never used Photoshop CS2, Cristine, but I would imagine it's much like CS. I'm currently using Photoshop CS3 and I find most things to be the same. :-)

Cristine on April 14, 2009:

how can i edit photos using Adobe Photoshop cs2??

GlobalizeThis from Wichita, Kansas on March 01, 2009:

Nice tutorial, but could use some screen shots of the photoshop process.

G on October 04, 2008:

Good job!!!!

stylezink from Atlanta, GA. on June 12, 2008:

Great hub! I love Photoshop and use it almost daily.

Susan Ng Yu (author) on March 21, 2008:

You're right about needing time to learn Adobe Photoshop, MM. It takes practice, practice, practice. I'm still practicing myself. :p Thanks for the kind words. :)

MM Del Rosario from NSW, Australia on March 20, 2008:

I have been wanting to learn Adobe Photoshop but I just need the time....thanks for this info, I am sure I will need it one day.


Susan Ng Yu (author) on March 14, 2008:

Sure, but you'll have to face the camera first. Hehe. :-D

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on March 13, 2008:

Great info. hmmm Maybe you would be kind enough to make an ID for me? LOL

Susan Ng Yu (author) on March 08, 2008:

I find that the easiest way to learn Photoshop is to have someone demonstrate it like in a video tutorial. I'll try to find some relevant Photoshop video tutorials and add them here as I find them. :-)

Rhym O'Reison from Crowley, Tx on March 08, 2008:

I could use a whole tutorial on this subject. Thanks for the info.