Photoshop: Change the Background

Adobe Photoshop® CC 2020

In this lesson, learn how to change the background of a photo. This comes in handy if you want to replace a distracting background with a solid color or place a person or object in another setting.

To replace a background, you will:

  1. Select the person or object you want to keep.
  2. Create a layer mask from the selection and place it on a new layer.
  3. Add a new background under the masked layer. 
  4. Refine the layer mask as needed.

To make a selection and create a layer mask:

  1. Choose any of the selection tools 
  2. On the Options bar, select Select Subject.
  3. Select Select and Mask. The Select and Mask workspace opens where you can refine the mask.
  4. For View Mode, select Onion Skin at about 30%.
  5. Use the selection tools on the left to refine your selection. In the Options bar, change the brush size as needed.
  6. Under Global Refinements,  you can do the following:
    1. Adjust Smooth to smooth out jagged edges.
    2. Adjust Feather to blur transitions between edges.
    3. Adjust Contrast to bring some sharpness back.
    4. Shift the Edges to remove some unwanted color. 
  7. In Output Settings, click Decontaminate Color.
  8. Select Output to New Layer with Layer Mask. A new layer with a layer mask is created above the background layer.

To add a solid background:

  1. In the Layers panel, create a new Solid Color adjustment layer. Pick a color and click OK.
  2. Click and drag the solid color layer underneath the layer that contains the layer mask.

To add a different background:

  1. From the File Menu, click Place Embedded. Select a new background and click OK.
  2. Click and drag the new background layer underneath the layer that contains the layer mask. 
  3. Select the layer with the layer mask, then select the Move tool. Move the foreground object in the scene as desired. 


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