How to Change a Background in Photoshop

Changing the background in Photoshop involves a few steps to achieve a clean and professional result. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

To start, choose any of several selection tools, including the Quick Selection tool, and look for a button called Select Subject to appear above your image. Simply tap this button. Adobe added this one-click Subject Select option, which is powered by Adobe’s Sensei image AI technology, in 2018 (yes, Photoshop had AI back in 2018). The company has subsequently improved this feature substantially with more accurate selection and multiple-subject selection capability.

How to Change a Background in Photoshop

Note: It's recommended to have a basic understanding of Photoshop's tools and interface before attempting this tutorial.

Step 1: Open Your Images

  • Open Adobe Photoshop.
  • Go to "File" > "Open" and select the image with the subject you want to extract from the current background.

Step 2: Select the Subject

  • Choose the "Magic Wand Tool" from the toolbar on the left (or press 'W' on your keyboard).
  • Adjust the tool's tolerance in the top menu. A lower tolerance is more precise, while a higher tolerance will select a broader range of colors.
  • Click on the background area. Photoshop will select the area based on the tolerance you set.

Step 3: Refine the Selection

  • Zoom in on the image for better accuracy (press 'Z' and click to zoom).
  • Use the "Add to Selection" and "Subtract from Selection" options in the top menu to refine the selection. Hold down the Shift key to add to the selection and Alt key (Option key on Mac) to subtract from it.
  • Carefully outline the subject, ensuring all parts are selected. Use a combination of different selection tools (Lasso, Quick Selection, etc.) if necessary.

Step 4: Refine the Edges (Optional)

  • With the subject selected, go to "Select" > "Select and Mask."
  • Use the tools on the right to refine the selection's edges. Adjust the sliders for "Smooth," "Feather," "Contrast," and "Shift Edge" to achieve a smoother transition between the subject and the new background.
  • Preview your selection against different backgrounds to ensure the edges look natural.

Step 5: Create a New Background

  • Go to "File" > "Open" and select the image you want as the new background.
  • Copy the background image (Ctrl/Cmd + A, Ctrl/Cmd + C).

Step 6: Apply the New Background

  • Return to the image with the selected subject.
  • Paste the copied background image on top of it (Ctrl/Cmd + V).
  • Position and resize the new background layer as needed using the "Move Tool" (V).
  • Make sure the new background layer is below the subject layer in the Layers panel.

Step 7: Refine the Composition

  • Select the subject layer.
  • Use the "Transform" function (Ctrl/Cmd + T) to adjust the size, position, and rotation of the subject if necessary.

Step 8: Final Adjustments

  • Double-check the composition and edges for a seamless blend.
  • Make further adjustments, such as color correction, lighting, or shadows, to make the subject blend naturally into the new background.
  • Use layer masks to hide any parts of the subject that overlap the new background in an unnatural way.

Step 9: Save and Export

  • Once you're satisfied, go to "File" > "Save As" to save your work as a Photoshop file (PSD) if you want to preserve layers and editability.
  • To save a flattened version, go to "File" > "Export" > "Export As" and choose the desired format (JPEG, PNG, etc.).
  • Remember that changing a background can be challenging based on the complexity of the subject and background, so practice and patience are key to achieving the best results. 

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