Photoshop techniques and tips
How to create a digital backdrop in Photoshop
For this tutorial we’ll look at how to make digital backdrops to give a fresh new look to your images, such as in this example photo:
We all know how important it is to shoot portraits against a nice backdrop. But we may not always have access to different colours or patterns for backdrops. Thanks to digital capture and editing processes, we can create our very own customized digital backdrops in Photoshop Elements or CC in no time. For those of you who haven’t yet worked out how and have been searching for the answer – please read on!
There are many ways to create digital backdrops and one of the most popular is the canvas Old Master style. Photoshop Elements and CC has a quick and easy way to create one of these using the “Render Clouds”or “Fibers” filter. Let’s go through the steps.
First create a new canvas and make it a suitable size: I chose 18×12, with 300 DPI resolution (most of my images are at 300 DPI). You may want to name the file too; I named it Fibers Backdrop.
Next select a foreground and background colour you would like to use. I chose a medium orange brown, with brown as the background. Neutral colours are best, with brown, grey or blue being the most popular choices in the canvas world. But there is virtually any number of colours and you only have to use them once, so be creative if you like. Just make sure the background colour you choose matches/compliments your subject.
Once you have selected your two colours go to Filter>Render>Clouds or Fibers and the canvas will turn like this.
Now at this stage I feel the pattern is too tight and fussy. The easiest way around this is to stretch the clouds over the canvas by making them larger.
Go to Select>All and then to Image>Free Transform
This puts a frame around the picture with handles in each corner and centre of each edge. Drag these outward to make the frame bigger than the canvas. I recommend reducing the photo on the Photoshop desktop by clicking on the minus (-) key while holding down the Command/Ctrl key – this will give a better overall sense of the changes to the patterns. Then as you drag you can still see the corners of the transform box. If you do perspective to an irregular shape (as seen below) you’ll see the cloud pattern change.
Mine now has a diagonal wave to it. And then I used Filter>Blur to blurred the backdrop.
You can also make an Adjustment layer to darken the background, then use the Gradient tool and select Radial Gradient with Black to White to make the centre of the background brighter than the corners (Vignette effect). You can also use Filter>Blur> to blur/soften the background even more.
Save this file as PSD (Photoshop) on your computer in a folder and as you create more digital backgrounds add them to this folder. In no time you will have a library of custom digital backdrops.
Now it is time to add the photo.
In the previous article I showed you how to Remove a Background. Using this technique we removed the background from around our subject; the final step is to drag and drop your photo onto the top layer of your digital background for a fabulous image!
And now you have another technique for your editing tool box of ideas.
Ted and the Omnilargess TeamShare