You don’t need a travel budget to find new backgrounds for your photos. See how graphic artist Erica Larson uses Adobe Photoshop to place the subject of a photo in an entirely new environment.

Graphic artist Erica Larson dreams up inspired designs every day as an associate creative director on the Adobe Studio team. In other words, she makes stuff that makes others want to make stuff.

What you'll need

This sample file has Adobe Stock images you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file.

Hide the wall

Larson’s first step is hiding the plain gray wall. Use the Quick Selection tool to select just the shape of the model. Choose Select Subject and then choose Select And Mask to enter the Select And Mask workspace.

Use Quick Selection tool to select model, choose Select Subject and Select and Mask in Adobe Photoshop

Remove rough spots

In the Properties panel of the Select And Mask workspace, move the Shift Edge slider to the left to refine the edges of the selection, and choose Output To Selection. Note: when leaving Select And Mask, the original background comes back; you’ll fix this in the next step. 

Move the Shift Edge slider to refine edge and choose output to selection

Delete the wall

With the model layer selected, click on the Add Layer Mask icon. Since Larson had output the model as a selection from the Select And Mask workspace, Photoshop masked (or hid) anything that was not selected, so the gray wall disappeared and the selected model remained.

Add layer mask in Photoshop to hide background and display model

Create a consistent look

Larson wanted to match the lighting of the model with that of the background. To do this, duplicate the New Background layer, move it above the model layer, and choose Filter > Blur > Average. Option-click (or alt-click) between the green layer and the model layer to create a clipping mask.

Apply filter blur and clipping mask in Adobe Photoshop, the shape of model is filled with green

Add a new background

With the green layer selected, set the Blend Mode to Soft Light, and reduce the Opacity setting. Larson applied a dark blue Solid Color adjustment layer to give each of the layers below it a finishing color cast. Set the Blend Mode to Soft Light and also reduce the adjustment layer’s Opacity setting.

Green layer is selected, set Photoshop blending mode to soft light, add blue solid color adjustment layer to apply color cast replace-image-background-step-5-after

Take your photos places

With a new background, you can take your photos’ subjects anywhere in the world (or even out of this world). Start exploring today.

Picture of model in front of new background with green plants placed on a wall behind two fuchsia-colored chairs

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

08/28/2019

Designer: Erica Larson

Adobe Stock contributors: Ivan, baiterek_media, nikolarakic

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