How to Change the Background Color in Photoshop

Selecting the background - How to Change the Background Color in Photoshop

In case you are not familiar with Photoshop, it is the best program for editing photos, manipulating the colors, perspectives, and, of course, change the background color. Here at the Clipping Masking Photoshop, we do most of our photo editing and design work in this amazing piece of software produced by Adobe.

Since we have been receiving a lot of emails asking our experts how to change the background color in Photoshop, we decided to write this article that will help you out with this task. First, we will take a look at some reasons behind this action and the importance of background color, then we will write down the exact steps that will enable you to change the background color yourself, and finally, we will also answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

We hope you are ready to dig into this one. Shall we?

The Importance of Background Color of an Image

Background of an image is a very broad term and it can refer to a single tone colored background, a mixture of various colors, or it can also be an actual image of a scenery. The actual amount of background that will be visible depends on the object’s size. In some cases, the object will cover the majority of the image, however, in most cases, the background actually represents the biggest portion of the canvas. Whichever the case, the background color plays a super important role.

Human eyes are a super-sensitive instrument and can detect even the slightest deviations. Those lucky enough to have a healthy set of eyes will always prefer an image where the object matches the color or the scenery of the background over the one where the object and the background don’t match.

Of course, it is also important to consider the purpose of the final image. Will it be used to grab attention, to tell a message, or to present a beautiful scenery, where an object is the one adding value to the background and not the other way around? All these and much more contribute to designers choosing the actual background color and style.

If the object is the main focus, it is also extremely important not to use a background that will still all the attention. In that case, the background must be true to its definition (t.i.: to do its thing in the background). It must complement the image by contributing to the overall beautiful image, however, at the same time steer the focus toward the object of interest.

We could go on and on about the importance of the background style and color, yet we believe you get the picture and are eager to learn the actual steps that will enable you to set or change the background or its color.

Steps to Change the Background Color in Photoshop

In this section, we will provide you with the exact steps that you must follow to change the background color in Photoshop. Since there are various ways to set/change the background, we decided to break down this section into several categories. The background color can refer to an entire layer’s color that is then put below the layer that holds the object or it can refer to the part of the same layer than are in the background.

If you have ever used Photoshop before, then you probably know, that most editing gets done by using several layers. In case of background manipulation, you always want to have your main object or objects selected and copied into a separate layer. This gives you the ability to manipulate background with ease.

NOTE: Our step-by-step instructions are focused on Adobe Photoshop CC since it is the most commonly used version. Steps are very similar for all other versions of Photoshop, however, they may vary slightly.

Background Change for the New File/Image/Project

First, you must open Photoshop. Once inside the program go to the top menu bar and click on the ‘File’, which is the first item. Then click “New…”, which will open a prompt window that enables you to choose canvas size, resolution, color mode and also the background color. The latter is done just above the ‘Advance Options’ label on the right-bottom portion of the prompt window. By default, the color is set to white. To change it, you must click the square (it will most likely be white) next to the drop-down menu and then select the color you prefer. You have all the types of color annotation options available or you can simply use the slider and select the color you like by clicking on the pallet and then confirming your selection by clicking the ‘OK’ button.

Once you have changed the background, click the ‘Create’ button and you are good to go.

Background Change to a New Layer

Let’s say you are already working on a project in Photoshop and want to add a new layer, which you want to have a specific color. There are several ways to go around this.

First, you need to create a new layer. To do so, you can use the shortcut button at the bottom of the layer panel, which is typically on the bottom-right side. Another option is to go to the top menu, click the ‘Layer’ item, then ‘New’, and then ‘New Layer …’. Or you can also use the keyboard shortcut, which is “SHIFT+CMB/CTRL+N” (CMD for iOS, CTRL for Windows). In most cases, the new layer will be empty (it will look like it is transparent). Now, you have to fill it with the color that best suits you. For this you can use the ‘Fill …’ option from the ‘Edit’ menu tab or you can use the Paint Bucket Tool or the Gradient tool (if you want multiple tones, multiple colors or various opacity levels). The Paint Bucket tool is the fastest option and it will paint your layer with a color that is currently selected.

You also have the option of directly choosing a new fill layer, which can be done by going to the ‘Layer’ tab and then ‘New Fill Layer’, where you finally choose between ‘Solid Color…’, ‘Gradient..’, or ‘Pattern…’.

Background Color Change to an Existing Image in Photoshop

To be completely honest, this is the type of background color change that most people are interested in. This category will teach you how to change the actual background of a particular image. This is a more advanced image editing and it requires the use of a combination of tools. Of course, the complexity of the task depends on the type of original image. If the original background is single-colored and maybe even single toned, selecting it will be very simple, however, if you are dealing with a natural complex environment (such as a landscape), you may spend quite some time on selecting the background.

Step #1: Selecting The Background

In order to change the background color of a given image, we must first select that background and create separate layers of the object of interest and the background. The way to go around this depends on the type of image at your hands. There are several selection tools available in Photoshop.

Selecting the background

NOTE: First determine which of the two (the background or the object) are less complex and will be easier and faster to select.

In case you are already dealing with a single color background, you can use the Magic Wand tool, which will select the entire background in a single click (that is of the color is in a single tone and if the edges of the object are clear). In a less simple situation, you will need to go with the Quick Selection tool, Color select option, path creation, masking or even a combination of several of these.

NOTE: If you are new to Photoshop, we advise you to start with simpler images, where objects are simple and it will be easy to select the background or the object. With experience, you will be able to proceed to more complex and advanced tasks.

If you have selected the background, press “CMD/CTRL + J” on the keyboard and copy the background into a separate layer. If you have selected the object, then first invert your selection to the background by pressing the “CMD/CTRL+SHIFT+I” on your keyboard. Once your background is selected (you will see a dashed line around it), press “CMD/CTRL+J) to have it in a separate layer.

NOTE: Since having the object of interest in its separate top layer is the best practice, we advise you to always copy it in a separate layer as well. So use the above selection of the background and invert into the object, then press “CMD/CTRL+J” to copy the object into its separate layer. Make sure to position it on top of your background layer (simple click on it in the layer panes (bottom-right of the screen) and drag it above the layer containing the background).

The above selection can also be done for only certain parts of the background (e.g.: sky, lawn, sea, …) and it works the same way.

Step #2: Actual Background Color Change in Photoshop

Once you have isolated your object, as per the instructions above, you again have several options on how to change your background color. In case you want to use a single color background, it is best to create a new layer and us the color you prefer to color it as described in the “Background Change to a New Layer” section.

Actual Background Color Change

However, if you are determined to change colors on the actual existing background (this only makes sense if you have a complex background which you like but just want to adjust its colors), then you will need to select your background layer, go to the ‘Image’ tab in the menu, then ‘Adjustments’, and then click the ‘Hue/Saturation…” option. This will provide you with a prompt window that will enable you to adjust the tones of various colors. When changing the colors in that way, it is important not to overdo it. Make sure the tones look realistic and eye-pleasing.


How can I change the background color of a picture without Photoshop?

There are several ways to change the background color of a picture. If you have an existing PNG image that already has a transparent background, you will be able to place it on top of another layer to which you will assign any color you like. However, if you are starting off with an image that has its existing background, you will first need to select the background/object of interest and isolate the two into separate layers. Then you can adjust the colors of the isolated background or place the isolated object on top of a new layer that you fill in any way you like.

How do you change the default background color in Photoshop?

New projects let you set the background color as described in the “Background Change for the New File/Image/Project” section. By default, the background color of a new project is set to white.

Creating new layers within the Photoshop will by default come with a transparent background (if you click the “Create new layer” button in the layer panel. However, choosing the “New Fill Layer” will let you chose the color as part of the process. By default, the color will be set to the color that is currently selected.

Is there an app to change the background of a picture?

Of course, in 2020 many apps let you change the background. However, these are still very limiting. They can do solid work and provide you with decent results in cases where there is an object of not too complex shape and with very clear edges, which makes it easily separated from the background. However, if you have more complex images, the apps won’t do a good job. Photoshop is a go-to tool to get the results you want.

What is the difference between the foreground and background in Photoshop?

Similar to most image editing or artistic pieces of software (even Paint has that option), Photoshop lets you chose two colors at the same time; one for foreground and the other for background. You can see those colors in two small squares overlapping in the tool panel (normally on the left side of the screen). The square on top represents the foreground color, while the one on the bottom represents the color of the background. You can switch between the two by pressing X on your keyboard. To set any of the two colors, simply click on any of the two squares. If you want to change the foreground color, click on the top square, however, if you want to change your background color, click the bottom square.

Even if you have selected your canvas color (background color) to be white when you started the new project, you will see the color of the background color currently selected if you use the Eraser tool on the Background layer (as long as it has the lock icon next to it).

What is the gradient effect?

The gradient effect is used to create a background or fill in a way to use different shades of a single color, different colors, or different levels of opacity. Photoshop offers a special tool that enables you to create gradient fills or background. The tool is called the ‘Gradient Tool’. It lest you choose among different types of gradients (linear, radial, angle, reflected, and diamond). Those can further be adjusted to use multiple colors, the amount and ‘speed’ of gradient transition between the colors/tones/opacity levels, and more.

That way you can create unique background or fill patterns and apply them with a single click.

Final Thoughts

We did our best to cover all the details related to the background color change in Photoshop. We hope you will be able to make the use of the information provided herein and that it will help you change any background color you want. Go through the steps given above and you will get things done.

Remember to go easy on yourself; change background color in Photoshop may not be such a difficult task, however, doing so properly and making sure the final image looks good and natural is a completely different level. To produce great results takes practice and time. Moreover, make sure you always zoom in on photo enough to see the details. Pay close attention to the edges of the object, where former background traces can often be seen.

If you are stuck and need assistance, we can help. Here at the Clipping Masking Photoshop, we offer fast results at highly affordable prices. We can perform bulk background color change to help you save a ton of time. Moreover, we can change color on any photo and deliver flawless results every time.

We wish you all the best in your Photoshop endeavors.

Warm regards,

Clipping Masking Photoshop