2 Ways to Create Seamless Backdrops in Photoshop!
Create a Seamless Backdrop in Photoshop! (2 Techniques)
In this tutorial, you will learn how to create smooth and seamless backdrops in Photoshop.
We will use one of two methods: remove distracting elements or recreate the backdrop from scratch.
Method 1: Removing Distracting Elements in 2 easy steps
Step 01 – Make a Selection Using the Lasso Tool
Enable the Lasso Tool from the toolbar or press the L key on the keyboard. The Lasso Tool allows you to freehand a selection and trace around the object you want to select.
A loose selection works just fine. No need to be precise.
You can add to the active selection by pressing and holding the Shift key and dragging around the object you would like to add.
Step 02 – Fill the Selection with Content-Aware Fill
Go into the Edit menu and choose Content-Aware Fill.
From the Content-Aware Fill workspace, you can seamlessly fill the selected portions of your image with content sampled from other parts of the image.
The window on the left shows you the result, and the window on the right shows you the sampled areas in green.
The Content-Aware fill worked great since the background is fairly simple.
It magically removed the lights and cable without having to adjust any of the Content-Aware fill controls on the right. However, in some cases, you may need to do so.
The only thing left to do now is to change the Output to a New Layer to work nondestructively and you can press OK. Photoshop will then create a new layer and it will generate the pixels to cover the light stand.
Press Ctrl D (Windows) or Command D (macOS) to Deselect.
Method 2: Recreating the Backdrop from Scratch
in 10 easy steps:
Sometimes removing objects will not give you the desired results. In certain cases, you will get better results by recreating the background from scratch.
To create a smooth, seamless backdrop in Photoshop, follow the steps below.
Step 01 – Select the Backdrop Color Using the Eyedropper Tool
Select the Eye Dropper tool from the Toolbar or press the I key.
Click over the image to sample the backdrop. Make sure to choose a mid-tone color. Avoid shadows or highlights. The selected color will become your foreground color.
Step 02 – Recreate the Backdrop with a Gradient Fill Layer
Go into the New Adjustment Layer icon and choose Gradient Fill which will use the backdrop color we just sampled.
When you’re in the gradient fill window, you can drag the gradient to reposition it and change the angle.
Bring the scale down to 10% just so that you can see the line.
Rotate the angle to 95 degrees to match the original backdrop’s angle.
Being consistent with the original backdrop yields better results.
Next, double-click on the gradient to bring up the gradient editor to edit the gradient.
Change the opacity of the top right swatch from 0 to 100% to reveal the entire Gradient Fill over the image.
Click on the bottom right swatch to sample it.
Then, click at the center to create a new swatch.
Now, you have 3 swatches on your Gradient Fill.
Adjust the colors to match the original backdrop to create the illusion of highlights, mid-tones, and shadows on your recreated backdrop.
Adjust the scale to something that looks realistic. In this case, about 25% will do and press OK.
This is our new background.
Unlock the original image and move the layer up in the layer stack.
Hold Ctrl (Windows) or Command (macOS) and tap on ] (right bracket) to move the layer up in the layer stack. The new backdrop layer is now at the bottom of the layer stack and behind the subject.
Step 03 – Select The Main Subject
We’re going to mask the subject out of the background, the man, and the chair he’s sitting on so we can reveal the new background underneath.
You can use the Quick Selection Tool, which allows you to drag over an image to make a selection.
If you have the new version of Photoshop, there’s a much easier way.
You can use the Object Selection Tool and hover over an image.
Photoshop will highlight in blue what it thinks the main subject is, and you can select it.
In this case, you can hover over the man and click once to make a selection.
Hold Shift and Click again on the chair to add to the selection.
Step 04 – Refine the Selection Using the Quick Mask Mode
Here’s a nifty trick! Press Q on the keyboard and you will enter the Quick Mask mode.
The red overlay shows the areas of the image that are not selected while the pixels that appear in their normal color are selected
By zooming in, you can see parts of the chair that are not selected.
To add to the selection, use the Brush tool by pressing the B key, and you can paint with white to reveal and black to conceal.
To reveal these parts of the chair, you can paint with white.
Here are some tips and tricks for you:
Resize your brush by tapping the bracket keys on your keyboard
- [ to make the brush size smaller
- ] to make the brush size larger
Create two points to create a straight line while painting over a selection
Click once, hold the Shift key, and click again.
Photoshop will create a straight line between those two points.
You can tap on the X key to swap the foreground and background color to easily switch between painting with white (to reveal) and black (to conceal).
Do the same for any areas with intricate detail. Just reveal the original pixels from the background.
To bring back the active selection, press the Q key on the keyboard, and you can see the selection around the man and the chair he’s sitting on. With a selection active, click on the new Layer Mask icon to create a mask based on the selection.
Step 05 – Select Shadows Using Load Luminosity and Invert Selection
There was a shadow below and to the right of the chair, and we need to include it in our new backdrop. Hold Shift and click on the Layer Mask icon to disable the mask.
This is what this red X indicates so that you can see what that shadow looks like.
Another useful trick to select the shadow so that you can use it in a composite is to use Load Luminosity.
Press Ctrl Alt 2 (Windows) or Command Option 2 (macOS) to load the brightest pixels as a selection. Then invert the selection by pressing Shift Control I (Windows) or Shift Command I (macOS).
Step 06 – Create a Solid Color Fill Layer
Now you probably can’t tell the difference, but go into the Solid Color Fill layer and
select black; you can see that Photoshop indeed had those pixels selected.
Step 07 – Make a Selection Using the Lasso Tool
We don’t need the entire layer; we only need the shadow.
Use the Lasso Tool and make a selection around the shadow.
With the selection active, use the same keyboard shortcut Shift Control I (Windows) or Shift Command I (macOS) to Create a Solid Color Fill Layer.
Next, hold Alt Click (Windows) or Option Click (macOS) on the Layer Mask thumbnail to review the mask.
Then, fill the selection with black so that those pixels are hidden.
Currently, the background color is black. Press Ctrl Backspace (Windows) or
Command Delete (macOS).
Now we have the shadow.
Step 08 – Adjust the Shadow with Curves Adjustment
You might notice the hard edges, and it doesn’t look like a shadow.
We can easily fix that by going into Image > Adjustment > Curves.
Darken those brighter pixels to make it look more like a shadow and press OK.
Refine the harsh edges by using the Brush Tool and paint them black.
Hold the Shift key and tap on [ or ] (left and right bracket keys) to adjust the hardness.
It is important to keep a soft edge so that the shadow looks realistic.
Hold Alt Click (Windows) or Option Click (macOS) on the layer mask thumbnail to reveal the pixels.
Control [ (Windows) or Command [ (macOS) to move the selected layer down the layer stack.
Re-enable the mask on the layer that contains the Man, and now you have a realistic shadow!
Step 09 – Refine the Shadow
You can reduce the Opacity or double-click on the Layer thumbnail to change the color.
For example, you can select the color of the background and then make it a bit darker and press OK.
I would recommend changing the Blending Mode to multiply and then using the Opacity slider to control the intensity of the shadow.
Also, with the shadow layer mask active, you can go into Filter Blur, Gaussian Blur, and blur the shadow a bit.
Step 10 – Finishing Touches Using Grain Effect as a Layer Style
Real photos have grain and adding a subtle amount of grain to your custom backdrop will make the image look more realistic.
You can use the Grain slider and Camera rod to add grain.
But in this tutorial, I will show you an alternate technique.
Select the Background layer, go into the FX icon, and select Pattern Overlay.
From here, click the Pattern Dropdown > Legacy Patterns and more > 2019 Patterns > Stone, and select the Sandstone pattern.
Then, change the Blend mode to Overlay, which will blend the highlights and shadows
and reduce the opacity.
You can make adjustments based on whatever you think works best for your image.
For this image, I used a low opacity of 2%. I recommend changing the scale in 25% increments. If the pattern is too big, you can reduce it down to 75% and that might give you a better result and Press OK.
There you go! Now you know how to create Seamless Backdrops in Photoshop using two methods. Give it a try!
If you create something using this tutorial, you can share your results on Instagram by tagging @photoshoptrainingchannel and using the hashtag #ptcvids for a chance to be featured!
If you would like to learn about masking, matching perspective and lighting, and applying cohesive color adjustments in changing backgrounds, then check out How to Change a Background in Photoshop!
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