Jul 08, 2014

How to Make a Pure White Background in Photoshop

Why You Need Pure White

If you have ever photographed someone on a “white” backdrop only to find the white came out more of a gray you know why this episode is so important. An image with pure white edges will fade perfectly onto most websites but how do you get your whites to be “oh so white”?

In this episode we show you how to make a pure white background in photoshop without losing too much detail in your images. As a bonus we also show you how to make pure black.

Testing White and Black with Threshold

The quickest way to test if you have pure white or black in your image is by using a Threshold Adjustment Layer. Create a new Threshold Adjustment Layer and bring the slider all the way to the right. If you see anything on your image, those areas are pure white. If you bring the slider all the way to the left, the areas with detail are pure black.

Paint White and Use Blend-If

Now that you know how to test if your image contains pure white or black it is time to make pure white. The easiest way to do this is with the brush tool. The edges of your image are the most important as they control how an image will look when uploaded online. Paint white over the areas of your image you would like to be lighter and use Blend-If to restrict this layer to the lighter areas of the image. This will make sure that you will keep shadow detail while making the lights lighter. Repeat this process over the image as needed.

View Your Image on White

To view your image on a pure white backdrop right click on the backdrop and go to “choose custom color”, select white and you are done. If you see a shadow or a border between your image and the background in Photoshop go to your Menu and select Photoshop -> Preferences -> Interface. In the Appearance section choose “None” as your border for all 3 views.


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(will not be published)

  • user image

    I was asked to do some shots for a friend that wants to start acting and modeling (Male btw) and I am curious , do you have any tips or ideas on what type of photos I should deliver? Portrait shoot style, Headshots? Lifestyle? or all the above and should the images be retouched (other than small skin blemishes) stylized., props? Thanks and love your site!

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    Carolyn Anabel Lajara

    Thank you Phlearn!!! I got this adorable shot of my niece using this technique (:

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    Nina Ph Olofsson

    Hi 🙂 Thanks for the tutorial. I only have PS Elements, and so I don’t have the Blend If option. Any suggestions to doing this in PSE?
    Thanks again and have a lovely day 🙂

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    Randell John

    Hi Aaron,
    If you’re going to print with a white background, should it be purely white?
    I was under the understanding that pure white e.g R 255 G 255 B 255 will not actually allow a laser jet or inkjet printer to lay down any ink onto the paper, because of the subtractive colour methods used by these devices.

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    Mark Stewart

    Heres my attempt using your tutorial. Thanks. Had to take 30
    + shots to get this one. I used a mixture of milk and water

  • user image

    Super helpful tutorial!! Thank you, it was just what I was looking for – you popped up in a Google search!

  • user image

    Great tutorial, will give a try. I usually use a service ( to get my pics done but will defo give this a go!

  • user image

    Hi Aaron,
    Thanks for the tutorial on How to make a pure white background in Photoshop.
    I make writing pens and have recently been granted Brand Registry for my products to sell on As you know they require a pure white background. I have been trying different methods suggested by others on various Utube sites for several weeks without much success to get the results I need until I came across your tutorial.
    Thanks for the easy to follow instructions and great results in very little time too.
    Any comments on the attached would be welcome.

    Thanks again



    • user image

      Can you tell me how in the world you figured this out? I take photos of things on a beautiful white background and when I upload to photo shop the back ground is gray and then I have to white it out myself using my eraser. I have watched this video and I guess I am just not comprending it.

  • user image

    I am new to Photoshop!
    Want to make pure white background for this image can you please give me some pointers how to get get pure white background ?

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    Mehedi hasan

    Hey, there. I’m just beginner in Photoshop. I’m try to learn how remove background image, but i did find my work juster like is it OK or this is right ways etc. I select a image in your comment box and i remove background. here give you. please review me.

  • user image

    Hi Aaron,

    I enjoyed your tutorial on how to create a white background however not being very adept with Photoshop, I got quite lost. Would you be able to suggest a more simplified approach ? The results do not have to be perfect but just “good enough”. My problem lies more in fading out the shadows to have them blend in better with a pure white background. I have no real problem creating a pure white background without altering the colors of the main object too much but as mentioned, I am stuck on how to adjust the shadows.

    Thank you so much.

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    Vadim Yelagin

    A great first step for making the background white is to make a new layer and paint the colors from the original background on its edges, and then to smoothly fade those colors to transparent towards the center (usually 4 foreground-to-transparent gradients from each edge suffice). Then set blending mode of this layer to “Divide”, and the edges will become much whiter without any loss of detail. This is kind of similar to moving a white point down with level adjustment, but for every pixel the new white point is taken from the layer. And the layer is supposed to match the original not-so-white background without the subject or any detail on it.
    In case of black background that would be “Subtract” instead of “Divide”.

  • user image

    Hi Aaron,
    I need to make the background of this image white and keep both the correct shadows and the reflections. I’m getting crazy. I found tutorials on keeping the shadows but i need reflections. Can you tell me how to do this?
    thank you!!!!