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If there is one thing that comes up again and again when we talk about photography, it’s editing your images – which is a task you want to spend less time with. One question I get asked quite frequently is how to add a background in Adobe Photoshop ?
It might be about cropping your subject from the background completely, but you can also add background that was not there in the first place.
Theres a lot to learn and master, so focusing on couple of main editing tricks at a time will ease your time spent on post-production.
Even if editing might seem like a daunting task, because you’re shooting with film and want to leave the final images as untouched as possible, knowing the basics of editing will still be helpful when you want to perfect your work.
In this post I’m going to share exactly how you should edit your images in order to add more background, which software you should use, and explain the steps for you.
Replacing a background is something you’ll do often in Photoshop. Changing the background of an image can be completely transformative, giving it a whole new meaning.
You’ve probably struggled multiple times when noticing after a photoshoot that your backdrop didn’t cover all of the frame or that it was too wrinkled – this happens to me with my fabrics that I like to use.
Sometimes the space is not wide enough or the canvas doesn’t cover everything; either way I like to use this editing to fix this minor issue in my images.
This doesn’t require previous skills, and can be done on virtually any image with a spot of clear background in them.
In this article I want to show you how to add a background in Photoshop, when there is not sufficient cover from your backdrop. Other times I might use Canva for the same purpose. The tutorial I’m about to share is done with Mac.
This editing could be used if you want to add more grass on a field or broaden a wall – but it only works if you don’t have anything in front of the space you want to fill. Since it will require stretching of the background, having any elements in front of the spot you want to stretch will result in a smudgy spot.
I try to do this as little editing as possible, but I’m aware that sometimes it is just simply not possible to have a wider background if for multiple reasons. Maybe you want to have a mood of a wider space where your subject is placed but you do not have enough background to cover it.
This works best if your background is monochromatic, since stretching will smudge all possible patterns – if you want to still keep the details in your images.
Notice that this article only explains how to add more of the same material background you already have in your images.
1. Open the image in Photoshop
Select your image and make necessary colour corrections and other editing. Select an image where you have enough area to strtech – ie. in this image I have enough of the scarf to be able to pull it to cover the sky.
2. Choose rectangle selection tool
Once you choose the rectangle tool, select an area that is clear enough to be stretched – here I only selected an are that covered the scarf fully. You can also use a round shape, but since it will cut it from the background, I find it more difficult to fit in later on because of its shape.
3. Press Command + T
Select Command + T to activate the rectangle to be stretched. A cut out line will appear in your selected area.
4. Hold Command continuously and drag the upper part of the rectangle selected
While holding command key, drag your selected are to the direction you wish to stretch the background. However it will also cut the original area, so make sure you drag it straight up in this case. You can also edit the white areas later on.
5. Now repeat on the spots that you want to drag
Repeat this as many times as you need, but notice the stretched are loses pixels – indeed if it’s possible, try to stretch the areas in smaller pieces, and then move onto another part of the image. If you’d be stretching something that has more texture in it, it will become blurry. This works best on fabric backgrounds and backgrounds that are quite similar over all.
6. Finalise the edges with Spot Healing Tool
If you left any white pieces while stretching the background, you can edit them out at this point with spot healing tool. Also any discoloration can be fixed at this point to make the background seem smooth and solid.
7. And you’re done !
Textures in images are usually not perfect, so when using spot healing tool to smoothen the background, it’s ok to leave some wrinkles on it or imperfections. This is hands down the best way to broaden the background of your images.
- The background should be a solid color
- Might leave some smudge spots (it looks cool though!)
- Transforming your images as you please
- Works great with simple objects
- Less stress when photographing
And the faster you can edit your images, the quicker you can get back to focusing on what is most important for your photography practice.
There are many ways to edit the background and a frequently asked question is about removing the background completely.
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