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How to Change the Background Color in Photoshop (7 Steps)

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 5 min read
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Knowing how to change the background color in Photoshop is a great skill. And if you don’t know how to do that, we’re here to show you the step-by-step process.
It takes some patience, but it’s so easy to do. So let’s get started!


How to Change the Background Color in Photoshop

Here’s our step-by-step tutorial, so let’s begin!

Step 1: Choose Your Photo

If it’s your first time changing the background color in Photoshop, choose an image with sharp edges and a clean background. This will be easier to work with than a more complex composition.
Here are some details to avoid when you’re new to isolating a subject and changing the background color:

  • Anything with blurred edges
  • A background that blends with the subject
  • Subjects with detailed edges
  • Hair that’s loose, frizzy, spiked, or unsmooth
  • Photos with motion blur

photo of red sneakers with a white balloon and pink background


Step 2. Create Two Layers

Open your photo in Photoshop and make a duplicate layer. Right-click on the layer and select Duplicate Layer (Ctrl or Cmd+J). Then turn off the original layer by clicking on the eye icon.
Make a solid layer by clicking the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon in the Layers panel. Then choose Solid Color from the top. Next, pick a color close to the background you will use, or choose white.

screenshot of editing an image in Photoshop
Creating a duplicate layer


Step 3. Select the Subject

Click on the Quick Selection tool in the Tools panel. Then click on the Select Subject option. It’s in the top bar above the image.
If the edges of your selection aren’t sharp, Photoshop will let you know that it cannot find a prominent subject. If you see this notification, try other tools like the Magic Wand or Object Selection tool.

screenshot of editing an image in Photoshop
Select Subject


Step 4. Clean Up the Edges

Unless your subject is super sharp, the resulting selection will not be perfect. So the next step is to perfect it.
Keep the Quick Selection tool selected. And click on the Select and Mask option box above your photo. Doing this opens a new window where you can begin to refine your selection.
Use the Refine Edge brush to include edges that blend too much with the background. To help you see the effect of this brush, select either Overlay or On White. These options are in the View panel on the right side of your screen.
You can adjust the opacity to a point where you can see the effect of the brush as you use it. Here is an example showing the Overlay option from the View panel at 50% opacity.

screenshot of editing an image in Photoshop
Overlay option, 50% opacity

Work your way around the edge in a clockwise direction to make sure you cover the whole outline. You can control the effect better by using the Radius, Smooth, Feather, and Contrast sliders. These are on the panel at the right of your photo.
Experiment with these controls. You’ll find the best balance for the different areas of the image. They will have a varied effect depending on the detail of your photo.
close-up photo of the shoelaces of a pair of red sneakers
Once you are happy with your selection, switch the View to Black and White. Without the distraction of color, you can better see how your edges look.
screenshot of editing an image in Photoshop
If there are no further changes to make in the Output To box, select Layer Mask and click OK.


Step 5. Paint On the Layer Mask

Now you have a new mask on your layer. If you want to refine the fuzzy edges further, use the Brush tool.
Set it to 50% black and paint on your subject to erase and parts you do not wish to see. Set it to 50% white and paint over the background (which is still visible) to erase it.
Using the brush at 50% or lower opacity gives you more precise control. Doing so helps blurred or fuzzy areas of the edges look more natural.
screenshot of editing an image in Photoshop


Step 6. Select and Isolate Your Subject

Press Ctrl or Cmd and click on the layer mask to select the subject. Now duplicate the selection to a new layer using Ctrl or Cmd + J. Next, hide other layers so you only see your isolated subject and not the background.
In this step, you can also resize your canvas if you wish. This step is helpful if you want to add some text to your photo. Or if you’re going to make a composite with other images on the same background.
I chose to crop the image square because it looks best on Instagram. But you can try other sizes, too.

screenshot of editing an image in Photoshop
Resizing the canvas


Step 7. Make a Solid Fill for Your New Background

In the Layers panel, click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon. Then select Solid Color from the top and choose the color you want your new background to be.
photo of red sneakers with a white balloon and a turquoise background to show how to change the background color in Photoshop
Now how do you change the background color to white in Photoshop? Simply pick the color picker, choose white, and you’re good to go! Of course, you don’t need to limit yourself to solid colors. You can add a realistic background as well.
photo of red sneakers with a white balloon and a brick background


Conclusion: How to Change the Background Color in Photoshop

Learning how to change the background color in Photoshop is a simple process once you get used to it. After you isolate the subject, selecting the background color is as easy as clicking on the color picker.
The quality of your finished image will depend on how much time you spend practicing and perfecting the basic process. Practice this method as much as possibleyou’ll find it useful, especially for social media.