How to change the background colour of your photos in Photoshop to make your images more striking

One of the most delightful aspects of Adobe Photoshop is the ability to reframe your favourite things in a more attractive light — or more specifically, a more attractive colour.

Once you learn how, it will be easy to change the background colour of nearly any picture in Photoshop. Here’s what you’ll need to know.

How to change the background colour of an image in Photoshop

Double-check that your computer can support the most up-to-date version of Photoshop (in this case, Adobe Photoshop 2020), to follow these 12 steps and change the background colour of your photo.

1. Right-click on the Object Selection Tool from the toolbar on the left. The icon looks like a solid rectangle with a dotted line surrounding it.

OscarSelectSubjectEmma Witman/Business InsiderA lovely tropical bird such as Oscar here looks rather drab against a beige wall. Fortunately, you don’t have to resort to painting your apartment’s walls in order to get more vibrant portrait of a pet parrot.

2. Select “Quick Selection Tool.” Your icon will now look like a paintbrush with a dotted outline around it.

3. Tap “Select Subject,” in the upper toolbar. For less up-to-date Adobe Photoshop versions, you’ll have to manually outline the subject in the foreground.

OscarMaskOnEmma Witman/Business InsiderFrom afar, you can see that Select Subject does a near-perfect job.

4. Press the “Q” key on the keyboard to enable Quick Mask mode. This will help you identify and remedy any uncaptured pixels. Areas that have been captured as part of the background will be red.

  • Zoom in (you can zoom by changing the percentage number in the bottom-left) so you can spot and fix the edges and details that may not have been automatically captured. Then, select the brush tool on the left toolbar. Paint in pixels as you see fit to be included, or not included, in the background.
  • To include pixels in the background, paint them black with the brush tool. They should appear red in Quick Mask mode. To remove pixels from the background, paint them in white with the brush tool, and they will be added to the subject.
OscarPerchAddedEmma Witman/Business InsiderOscar looked a bit awkward, so I used the brush tool to add the perch beneath him, and remove the space between his tail feathers.

5. When you’re finished, zoom out, and tap “Q” again to exit Quick Mask mode.

6. Next, you’ll create a fill layer, which you’ll use to change the background colour.

7. Select “Solid Colour” from the adjustment layer menu in the bottom-right. You’ll see the words “Create new fill or adjustment layer.” Select any colour and click OK.

OscarBeforeInvertEmma Witman/Business InsiderThis type of image might for cool pop art, but it’s not the goal when it comes to changing Oscar’s background.

8. Initially, the selected shade will colour the subject, rather than the background. To flip that, select the layer mask icon, then tap “invert,” located in the properties panel.

OscarLimeGreenFinalEmma Witman/Business InsiderOscar’s deep green looked rather fetching in front of lime green, I decided. He also looks like he’s in front of a green screen ready to film a TV commercial.

9. Double-click on the solid colour thumbnail under the “Layers” tab, and select the colour of your choice for the background.

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