Photography • How-To Make a Retouched Background in Adobe Photoshop

Create a studio fashion shoot from your home.

Diane Villadsen takes working from home to a whole new level. See how she uses selection tools and masking to create fun, professional-studio style with Adobe Photoshop.

Diane Villadsen is a creative commercial photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through her work, she aims to transport the viewer into a surreal universe dominated by color and geometry. Check out "In the Pink" to see more of her work and get to know her better.

Woman with bright clothes sits on chair while man with bright clothes lays underneath against a blue backdrop

Before You Start

Use this sample image if you’d like, or practice with your own.

Step 1: Set the Stage

To start the project, Villadsen opened the image from her photoshoot in Photoshop. Then she dragged with the Polygonal Lasso (L) tool to select the gap on the left, making sure to select a portion of the blue background. To include the gap on the right, she held the Shift key as she used the Polygonal Lasso.

models and a cat pose on a teal backdrop, the studio appears on the left and right and the Lasso tool displays upper left

Step 2: Fill the Gaps

Next, Villadsen right-clicked and chose Fill. From the Fill dialog, she chose Content-Aware and clicked OK. Once Photoshop analyzed the photo, it filled in the selected areas with the blue from the studio backdrop.

Marching ants indicate selections on the left and right, the Fill dialog shows Content-Aware selected

Step 3: Isolate Your Subjects

With the Lasso tool still selected, Villadsen chose Select and Mask from the Options bar at the top. Once she was in the Select and Mask workspace, she chose Select Subject. Photoshop selected the subject and applied a red overlay to most of the background.

Red overlay appears behind the models & the cat, small areas of teal show, Select and Mask & Select Subject display at top

Step 4: Brush Up the Fine Details

Villadsen cleaned up the selection with the Refine Edge Brush tool. She brushed around the model’s hair and the larger remaining areas of background. Then, from the bottom of the Properties panel in the Select and Mask workspace, she chose to output the selection to a New Layer and clicked OK.

Closeup of female model with red overlay on background, Refine Edge brush set to 34 pixels, output to New Layer

Step 5: Add a Refining Layer

She then clicked Create a new layer from the Layers (Window > Layers) panel and moved the new blank layer to the middle of the layer stack.

Marching ants around models and cat against teal background, Layers panel shows new blank layer as middle layer

Step 6: Color for Consistency

Villadsen wanted to tidy up the background to give it a smooth, consistent appearance. She used the Eyedropper (I) tool to select a teal (#7cb3b5).

Models and cat appear against teal background, Eyedropper tool and Foreground/Background swatch show on the left

Step 7: Select a Brush for Tidying

Then she selected the Brush (B) tool, set it to a large soft round tip, and adjusted the Opacity and Flow.

Brush tool options display across the top, soft round brush set to 22 pixels, 40% Opacity and 50% Flow

Step 8: Smooth it Out

She brushed around the areas of the background to smooth out the wrinkles in the blue cloth while preserving the natural shadows of the models and the cat.

Teal background on the left has wrinkles, the one on the right has a smooth background, Layers panel shows correction layer

Set Up Your Own Studio

Have fun with your own in-home photoshoot and use Photoshop to give it a pro finish.

Image of models and cat against teal background placed on photo paper held against a pink background

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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