Home Manipulation Tutorials Replacing a Background
Replacing a Background

Last update:  12-31-1969

Submitted by Bud Guinn

This is a tutorial in removing a background from a picture and replacing it with another.

This tutorial is Copyright © Bud Guinn, who has sole responsiblity for its content.
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Replacing a Background

Tutorial by Bud Guinn

This is a tutorial in removing a background from a picture and replacing it with another. First open your subject picture and immediately save it as something else (this tutorial assumes you have started with a jpeg picture)...I like to also make a folder that will hold all subsequent saves...we save a lot and often...always changing names as we go...just add a 1,2,3,4,...etc to the original. You may want to adjust the viewing of this to 150%....the control is in the menu above.


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Go to the tools palette and choose the magic eraser.


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Start clicking it around the boxer...if it takes some of him, then go up to 'edit' and undo. You should be able to remove most of the background.


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What isn't removed is now taken out by going back and getting the regular eraser and erasing the rest of the background...use a large brush size...in the example it is a 19...if you need to do real close work...pick a smaller size brush...also zoom in at least 200% once you get close to the subject.


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Now our completed background should look something like this...what a good looking guy he is.


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Ok...now we need a new background...I keep a folder with clouds, and another one with different backgrounds...these are simply a bunch of pics I've taken over the years...walls, clouds, scenics, oceans...stuff.


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I've picked a couple to play with....now check the size of your subject picture...and make each of the others half again bigger...this allows you to adjust the background to your preference once you have placed it...you'll see what I mean in a minute.


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Bring the clouds to the top..just to see if you can get an idea of what they would look like...both colors work for me.


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In the upper right hand corner of the tools palette is the move tool, select it or just press V on the keyboard. yes"> Touch the white clouds picture...this brings it to the front...now click and hold down and move it to the subject picture... the arrow should have a little + appear when it gets over the subject picture ....when you get the arrow to the picture release the mouse... ...it should now drop on the picture.


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If it didn't go to the back of the subject...go to the layers palette and 'grab' the background layer with the mouse and put it below the subject layer. You might want to zoom out so that you can see the whole picture...and with the background layer highlighted you can move the clouds around behind the subject...if you made the background bigger than the subject you can move it around till you like it.


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Now this looks good...real good.Now, just for grins, let's pull the red clouds in to the picture the same way as before...and again it should be below the subject layer...just switch off the white cloud layer by clicking on the little eyeball to the left of the picture of the layer...in the layers palette.


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Well, this looks good too.Now, before anything else...save your masterpiece as a photoshop document...always using a new name when you save...I just usually add a 1,2,3,4,5...etc to the saves...again the reason for this is so that at anytime you can go back and redo a step without redoing everything...So save now.Of course you can always play a little and leave the little eyeball on for both layers...you won't be able to see the other one, yet. Here's how we do this...Highlight the top of the two cloud layers, in my example it would be the red clouds...now go to the little box that says 'normal', click on the arrow and go down to soft light...what do you think...adjust the opacity slider...looks kind of cool.


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I like it, we'll leave it for now.Ok...save again...Now go to the arrow flyout at the top of the layers palette and touch it and go down to the merge visible option...this now eliminates out layers and we can't make changes on them...that's why we do lots of saves....you can always throw them away later.


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Now go to the other cloud pictures and close them...do not accept changes to them, that way they should remain in their original form...to be used again and again.Now pick the blur tool...right click it, it is blur, sharpen and smudge all in one...pick the blur tool...and go up and pick a brush size of about 9.


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Now zoom in about 200 or 300% so that you can see what you are doing and follow the mask line of the boxer all around and just lightly blur the area ...I usually just drag it along the edge and that's all it takes.


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Well, it is now done...what effects do you want to do....oh save it right now. After you save it as a photoshop file, save it as a jpeg. We will now close everything and reopen the jpeg file and do the rest of our 'stuff' to it.Lets try the Hayes effect:


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I rather like it:


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Let's now go to 'file' and 'revert' and try the Cardiff bay technique.Different effect but still fun.


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Ok, I've reverted again...I like saying that...and am going to put a matte border around it. I've rerun the Hayes Island and will work on that...again save. This step will work on the full layers version but you might want to 'merge visible'...it makes things less complicated...and we can always go back to the last saved.


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That's really all there is to it....Woops...we have to put a signature to our masterpiece.Run the Signature line action


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I do like the signature action, ...it puts my name on everything you do...of course you can change the name to your name..font size..color..drop shadow characteristics...etc.I wish I could make it seem more difficult, so that you would of course worship me...but with just a bit of practice you can see how easy it is. When it gets tough is when you're trying to remove a person with blowing hair...or a tree with branches that you can see through...that gets tough...maybe not tough but tedious.

Thanks Tim Lauro, and I hope this is helpful... I have included both cloud files and the basic boxer pic here.

Good luck, and have fun...I do

Bud Guinn