Nov 24, 2016

How to Add a Colored Background to a Portrait

How to Add a Colored Background to a Portrait it Photoshop

Add a splash of coor to your photos by replacing the background. Learn how to quickly add a colored background to any portrait in Photoshop!

How to Cut Out the Subject

When cutting a subject out of their background, there are different techniques based on the complexity of the background. If the subject is photographed on a simple Background similar to the image in this tutorial, simple Selection Tools like the Magic Wand Tool will work well.

For complex Backgrounds, we recommend using the Pen Tool.

Click Here for a Tutorial on the Pen Tool!

After making a rough selection of the subject in a photo, use the “Select and MaskTool to refine the edge of the selection.

Add a Splash of Color to the Background

Once the subject is cut out from the Background, the possibilites are endless. From here, you can add another photo as the Background of a photo, or a simple colored background to simulate a studio photo.

To create a colored background, go to ‘Layer – New Fill Layer‘ and choose a Color. Place this layer below the layer with the subject and the new Color will appear behind the subject.

To add a bit of realism, add a Vigentte to the borders of the photo. Go to ‘Layer – New Adjustment LayerHue/Saturation‘ to create a Hue/Saturation. Lower the Lightness and Saturation then use the eliptical Marquee Selection Tool to create a selection around the center of the image and fill the selection with black. To make the Vignette more realistic, add a Gaussian Blur to the Layer Mask.


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  • user image

    You could use the feather option from the layer mask instead of adding a gaussian blur effect.

  • user image

    Great tutorial, I love your simple and concise way of teaching. Keep up the good work. I only have Elements 14, so not all of your tutorials a relevent to me, but I manage to adapt.
    Ps: do you have any Elements tutorial?

  • user image

    Another great video tutorial, Aaron.
    When I first saw the title of this I thought it would be a tutorial on how to change the color of the actual background (rather than creating a new background that is colored).
    The way I would do this is, Instead of creating a mask on the model’s layer, I would create a new solid or gradient layer from the selection of the background selection (don’t inverse the selection).
    This way you can set the new layer to Color blending mode and it will keep the natural shading and vignetting of the original background.
    I used a Gradient adjustment layer and set it to Color. This gives me one less layer as well as infinite ways to change the background color.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Add a Colored Background to a Portrait

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    Holger Wolter

    I simply like your videos – great 😉

    A tip for those who like the old ‘refine mask’ dialog more than the new ‘select and mask’:
    It’s still available in CC2015.5 and CC2017. Hold down the shift-key, while klicking on the menue Select->Select and Mask (only works in the menue, not with the button, nor with Ctr/Cmd+Alt+r)

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    Luis Fosse

    Espectacular presentación, como siempre, un cordial saludo navideño desde Puerto Rico.

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    Luis Fosse

    Todos sus videos son Espectaculares, gracias por compartirlos con todos nosotros, tus seguidores.

  • derek9

    This is great. I’m having an issue with the refine edge tool though. It starts to mask my subject instead of just the edge so when I create the layer mask their are parts of my subject that are halfway masked out… any idea why?

  • user image

    Thank you!!!! It is great as usual! I enjoy how you teach, what you teach, and I always find new techniques in your tutorials. Thank you ever so much!

  • user image

    This is great. But whenever I try adding a vignette using this method, I always get banding. Is there a way to avoid this?

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    Mary Gallant

    I need to change the color of the background in a photo. How do I do that…SIMPLY??


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      Brian Bartels

      He has a tutorial using blurred motion and removing the image from the background. I would believe you have to make a duplicate layer of your subject and background and on your subject layer just trace out the subject using the pen tool.

      Then on the layer of the background. Go to your adjustments panel and click on hue or saturation and move the color around to your desired color that you want. This will change the color of your background without changing the color of your subject. Hope that helps.

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    Samuel Addotey

    You are one of most intelligent photoshop users in the world.And have enjoy most of your grate episode.

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    Donald Probst

    I do a lot of nature photography. Not surprisingly, many of my subject blend in very well with their backgrounds. I was wondering if you had any tips or maybe even a tutorial to help pull a subject out from the background without actually going to a different background. For example, in the Toad photo I’ve attached, I’d like to keep the toad in a natural setting, rather than against a colored backdrop, but want to accentuate him (or de-accentuate the background) a bit.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Add a Colored Background to a Portrait

  • ankm786

    Sir we can reduce the size of an image file by simply grouping all the layers and make it invisible…. Love u sir

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    Mary Boland

    I notice you click on the subject and then on the edge with the refine edge brush to get rid of the white edge, but when I click on the subject with the refine edge brush it masks out where I clicked. Is there something I am missing, like holding down the Alt key, etc?

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