How to Change a Background in Photoshop

One of the most common questions when it comes to Photoshop is, “How do I remove a background?” There are variations of it—how do I move someone to a different background, or change the background—but the gist is the same. Terry White shows us how to extract the subject from one background and put it on another in Photoshop CC:

1. First, you’ll need to open the image you wish to remove the background from in Adobe Photoshop. Also, have the image of the new background ready.

2. Grab the Selection Tool and drag the image with your subject over to the new background. Most of the time, the images won’t be the same size, so you can adjust the size of your image in Free Transform by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + T, then holding Shift while you drag the Transform box’s handles (Cmd/Ctrl + 0 will bring the handles into view if they are off screen). Position the subject image where you want, then hit Enter to lock it in.

remove background photoshop

3. Next, you’ll need to make a selection. There are a number of tools you can use like Magic Wand or Lasso, but for beginners, let’s stick with the Quick Selection tool. Select the parts of the image you want to keep by running the tool over the image to tell Photoshop what you areas you want to grab. If the tool grabs too much, don’t worry, you can press and hold the alt key on your keyboard to remove anything you don’t want to keep.

4. After you’ve made the selection, you can finish it by clicking Refine Edge at the top of the screen to remove the background.

swap backgrounds photoshop cc

Another, perhaps easier, way to do all of this in Photoshop CC is to go to Select – Focus Areas (this works really well when the subject is in focus and the background is out of focus). If the tool misses anything that you wanted to keep, just select those areas and Photoshop will recalculate the selection.

focus areas selection

You can finish this method the same way as if you were to use the Quick Selection tool, and that’s with Refine Edge, which this time can be found in the Focus Area box.

At this point, you can make adjustments to clean up the final image, like adjusting the radius slider to pick up stray hairs and removing the background between them.

move subject to new background

Both of these methods are pretty easy to begin with, but the more distinct your subject is from the background, the easier it will be for Photoshop to make the selection. So, choose your images wisely!

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4 responses to “How to Change a Background in Photoshop”

  1. Mike says:

    Thanks but none of the above works.
    1.have new background ready?,in the other room ok?
    3.Will not select parts just areas that join up.
    4.”refine edge”greyed out,unavailable.
    “select-focus areas”does not exist.

  2. Azima jannat says:

    your change-a-background-in-photoshop post is really informative. I have got a more effective idea. thanks a lot for this best idea. I need just one idea can you tell me that which tools are best for using this work?

  3. Daniel Daisy says:

    I like the way you showed the technique to change background in Photoshop. This is a great method for everyone to learn easily.

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