Design Tutorial: Creating Solid Backgrounds in Photoshop

It's my cat's birthday today! For anyone who knows me personally, they know that Roscoe Santangelo is my little BFF that I spend an inordinate amount of time with since I work from home most days. A few days ago, I set up a little birthday photo shoot for him so I could get a good picture for social media, complete with confetti (which he kept trying to eat). I wanted the background to be white, so I set up a couple pieces of white posterboard, but it didn't totally come out the way I wanted to. 

Most people assume that if they can't get the background they want in a photo, it's a lost cause. This couldn't be further from the truth, because it's actually super easy to do - all you need are some basic Adobe Photoshop skills and about 15 minutes.

Here's the steps you need to make it happen:

  • When you're setting up your photo, make sure you have something in the photo that you can base your background off of. For me, it was the while posterboard. Even though I couldn't get it all in the frame, it's still a large part of the image. And most importantly, I wouldn't have to edit the background of any of the main elements of the picture (the cat and confetti). Basically, be sure that it's easy to remove all the parts of the photo you don't want to use.
  • Once you import into Photoshop, create a Layer from your Background Layer use the Lasso Tool to select the parts of the photo you want to take out. The best way to do this is to select big swatches that include very little of the background color you want (white, in this case). This way, Photoshop can tell that you're going to want that background to look white. Once selected, hit shift + F5, or Edit > Fill to use your Content Aware tool. Make sure "Content-Aware" is selected before hitting "OK."
  • It will probably take some trial and error before Photoshop figures out what you want the background to look like, but your background will look much more natural once it gets the hang of it. After most of your image is done, you're likely going to have a few parts the Content Aware tool can't figure out, or just look a little funky. To get rid of these, use the Clone Stamp tool, which you can access in the main Photoshop toolbar or by hitting "S." Make sure you have the correct layer selected, and simply click and hold down Alt in the area you'd like to copy. Then, use the tool to paint the cloned area. Just like with brushes and Erase, you can change the opacity and brush size of this.
  • The Smudge or Blur tool is also great to use if you need to smudge up an area. 

And that's it! It's relatively simple exercise to make a big difference in your photos. Check out the video below to see my process and the finished product - it only took me about 12 minutes to remove my background and add some text to the image.