Skip to main content

Creating a Clean Background

Lesson 74 from: Adobe Photoshop: The Complete Guide Bootcamp

Ben Willmore

Creating a Clean Background

Lesson 74 from: Adobe Photoshop: The Complete Guide Bootcamp

Ben Willmore

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

74. Creating a Clean Background


Class Trailer

Introduction To Adobe Photoshop


Bridge vs. Lightroom


Tour of Photoshop Interface


Overview of Bridge Workspace


Overview of Lightroom Workspace


Lightroom Preferences - Saving Documents


How To Use Camera Raw in Adobe Photoshop 2020


Overview of Basic Adjustment Sliders


Developing Raw Images


Editing with the Effects and HLS Tabs


How to Save Images


Using the Transform Tool


Making Selections in Adobe Photoshop 2020


Selection Tools


Combining Selection Tools


Using Automated Selection Tools


Quick Mask Mode


Select Menu Essentials


Using Layers in Adobe Photoshop 2020


Align Active Layers


Creating a New Layer


Creating a Clipping Mask


Using Effects on Layers


Using Adjustment Layers


Using the Shape Tool


Create a Layer Mask Using the Selection Tool


Masking Multiple Images Together


Using Layer Masks to Remove People


Using Layer Masks to Replace Sky


Adding Texture to Images


Layering to Create Realistic Depth


Adjustment Layers in Adobe Photoshop 2020


Optimizing Grayscale with Levels


Adjusting Levels with a Histogram


Understanding Curves


Editing an Image Using Curves


Editing with Shadows/Highlights Adjustment


Dodge and Burn Using Quick Mask Mode


Editing with Blending Modes


Color Theory


Curves for Color


Hue and Saturation Adjustments


Isolating Colors Using Hue/Saturation Adjustment


Match Colors Using Numbers


Adjusting Skin Tones


Retouching Essentials In Adobe Camera Raw


Retouching with the Spot Healing Brush


Retouching with the Clone Stamp


Retouching with the Healing Brush


Retouching Using Multiple Retouching Tools


Extending an Edge with Content Aware


Clone Between Documents


Crop Tool


Frame Tool


Eye Dropper and Color Sampler Tools


Paint Brush Tools


History Brush Tool


Eraser and Gradient Tools


Brush Flow and Opacity Settings


Blur and Shape Tools


Dissolve Mode


Multiply Mode


Screen Mode


Hard Light Mode


Hue, Saturation, and Color Modes


Smart Filters


High Pass Filter


Blur Filter


Filter Gallery


Adaptive Wide Angle Filter


Combing Filters and Features


Select and Mask


Manually Select and Mask


Creating a Clean Background


Changing the Background


Smart Object Overview


Nested Smart Objects


Scale and Warp Smart Objects


Replace Contents


Raw Smart Objects


Multiple Instances of a Smart Object


Creating a Mockup Using Smart Objects






Focus Stacking




Light Painting Composite


Remove Moire Patterns


Remove Similar Objects At Once


Remove Objects Across an Entire Image


Replace a Repeating Pattern


Clone from Multiple Areas Using the Clone Source Panel


Remove an Object with a Complex Background


Frequency Separation to Remove Staining and Blemishes






Puppet Warp


Displacement Map


Polar Coordinates


Organize Your Layers


Layer Styles: Bevel and Emboss


Layer Style: Knockout Deep


Blending Options: Blend if


Blending Options: Colorize Black and White Image


Layer Comps


Black-Only Shadows


Create a Content Aware Fill Action


Create a Desaturate Edges Action


Create an Antique Color Action


Create a Contour Map Action


Faux Sunset Action


Photo Credit Action


Create Sharable Actions


Common Troubleshooting Issues Part 1


Common Troubleshooting Issues Part 2


Image Compatibility with Lightroom


Scratch Disk Is Full


Preview Thumbnail


Lesson Info

Creating a Clean Background

So you noticed. We use this both on feathers and on a complex tree. That's not the only thing it's useful on. It's also going to be useful on furry fuzzy Andheri. That means if we want to do something like this image in this image, what I'd like to do is simplify the background. I don't like the drapes and window that air here. There's also a floor vent down there for, like, an air conditioning return or something. I want this to be a little cleaner of a background, so I'm gonna duplicate this layer by dragging it down to the new layer icon where I could have typed command. J, you know, work on the layer that's underneath, hiding the layer. It's on top. So I'm just gonna construct a clean background down here, and then we'll work on the layer that's above to get the the child on its own layer. So what I think I'd like to do here is I'm going to simply make a selection of this portion right here of the image, and I'm going to copy it to its own layer. Now if I'm working on that layer an...

d I have a selection Aiken Type Command J Command. Jamey's jumped to a new layer in. If I have a selection, it means Onley do it to the area I have selected. So watching my layers panel what I typed Command J, which is controlled jam windows. Now it's just copied that little chunk onto its own layer. If I were to hide the layer that's underneath, you'd see that that is, sitting on top. Just underneath it is the whole image. Then I'm gonna go to the edit menu. I'm gonna choose transform, and I'm gonna choose flip horizontal. Therefore, it will be a mirror image of itself horizontally, and I'll use the move tool to reposition it. So it's on the right edge of the document. Then I'm going to retouch to try to make this continuous going all the way across. All I'm trying to do is make a clean background. I'll choose merge down to simplify this so we only have one layer for our background, and I'm just gonna make this line continuously go all the way across, and same with the carpet. I'll grab my clone stamp tool, and by the way, we talk about tools like the clone stamp tool in a lesson that we have that is part of the ultimate guide, and it's ah called retouching Essentials. So I'm not gonna give you too much detail on exactly how the tool works, because I would assume that if you needed to know about it, you would end up going to that lesson and watching it. We also have a lesson that is advanced retouching, if remember correctly, and that would allow us to learn how to doom or complex retouching. A. To this point, I'm gonna see. I think I'm going to just make a little seam down the middle. That looks like what's over here and what I'm trying to do is just create a break in this so that I have to independent parts that need to be worked on have the I have the right on the left side, and then I'm gonna go to the healing brush. I know this is little entertaining that because you can watch me do something that's related to other lessons. But I'm just kind of quickly make a clean background, and I thought it would give some of you guys some ideas if you're needing to do something similar here. I'm using the healing brush because it blends in with where ever I paint the surroundings. Therefore do that. I should have moved it down. Just a smidge in there. I can go right now and fix that. This isn't gonna be perfect. I'm gonna spend too much time. So I'm going to just finish up here, and then we will continue with our work. Now I hit the edge of the document over on the right side. There, you can see the crosshairs about to do it again. And that's what messed me up right here. But that's all right. I can come in and to a little more retouch and get this done. Know that I would spend about another four minutes on this to get this toe look better. But I know this session is not called retouching in. Therefore, I'm gonna call that good enough. I think the child's body is gonna cover up that little portion of the background. That is not perfect. So there, that's simplifying the background. Ah, the only thing was down here. We have a little bit. That's odd. Eso I might need to use the when we have our touch that up, we'll see. Anyway, let's go to the lehourites above. Turn it on. That's the original version of the picture. What I need to do now it's mask this to get just the kid's head and shoulders, and therefore the new background can fill in the rest. And so let's go for it. This time I'm gonna start with no selection whatsoever, and I'm working on the top most layer. I'll go the select menu, and I'm gonna choose selecting mask. And when I do that, remember, it's gonna show us the last preview setting you used. I prefer to start with the choice, called Overlay and Red indicates the area that is not selected. It covers the entire picture because I have yet to make a selection well in selecting Mask in the upper left is the quick selection tool, so I can come in here right now. Justus, if I use the normal tool and click here in paint and as I do, you see this red overlay disappearing because any area that's looking normal is considered selected in any area covered with red is considered not. It's kind of a nice way to see a preview of your selection. Now, I don't think I need the selection down here at the bottom because the background hasn't been changed down there. It's primarily the shoulders and the head that I need. But let's just make sure that up here near the top, we have a little bit of a selection. Smaller brush, and I'm using this square bracket keys toe, get change. My brush size, By the way, they're found right near the return key on your keyboard. All right, so I got my basic selection, which is that the area in red is not selected. And now we need to fix the edges, the free fuzzy and Harry stuff. So the first thing I'm gonna do is bring up radius Radius is going to give Photoshopped control all the way around the edge of where the red stuff begins. And I'll probably gonna bring it upto least one pixel, sometimes to, um it's just going to make it to the edge. Usually it's gonna be a little better then I'm going to go to the second tool from the top. That's the same tool have been using on the other images, and I'm gonna look for any portion of the subject that is extending into the red. And wherever I see it extending in there, the red I'm gonna paint to give Photoshopped control over that portion. And it doesn't always fix itself right away. Sometimes I need to work my way around the edge of the picture quite a bit before see it fix. But I'm gonna come in here and start painting in those areas where the subject gets into the red on the opposite side. See a little bit of hair right there. Here. If you press the space bar, you get the hand tools so you can easily scroll around. Just get any area where subject extends into red nous because anything covered with red is considered something to be thrown away. And so I need to let footer shop know that that stuff should not be thrown away by giving it control over the area. You see there on Lee when I got all the way across the entire thing that it's suddenly pop, where did better on it because I had too much of it covered in red, where it thought it should be thrown away. Already done that area. I think I've already done this. I don't remember if I did that or not. Do it again. Okay, Now, the next thing I need to do is any area where I can see the background and it doesn't have red on top of it. I need to cover. And so if you think you can see the background in here, then paint over it. Give Photoshopped control of where you can see background without red. I can see some right there. I see a lot right through here, Maybe right there. But I think that's about it. And it's at this point that I can start to preview this in a different way by turning on show edge. That's going to show me where Photoshopped has control. So I turn that on and now I'm seeing Is there any red that goes into the outer or any subject goes into the outer red zone because the outer red zone is what it thinks should be trashed. And if there's any of my subjects sticking out into it, that's going to confuse photo shop and not allow it to give you a nice clean result. So in the outer red, I'm looking for any of my subject. If there is anything I need to get the red off, it's that may be right there. All right, then. I'm looking at the inner red to make sure there's no hint of the background in the inner red. I wish they'd make the inter red green green meeting go where we're going to keep in the outer red, Red. So it means discard. But they put them both the same color, which makes it more confusing. But I think I'm not bad here. You can see the little line all the way around. That's due to the setting called Radius. I give it one pixel of control. So right there, it has control for one pixel. There might be a few areas, though, because I think he was out of focus in a few areas, maybe over in here, where it needs control. Right. There is an area covered that shouldn't it should have control over. When I see the part here of that thing, the child is holding. All right, So at this point, have checked out where it has control, and it seems to be. All those areas are appropriate, and at this point I'm going to start viewing this on layers. Now, if you ever get something weird, it looks like this. Glad that happened. That's because you still have the check box called Show Edge turned on. And so it's on Lee showing you the areas where Photoshopped has control, and it's just not showing you them as a colored overlay because they're preview is not set to overlay. So turn off the show edge check box there. Now we're starting to see the end result. All right, this one still needs some help, because over here there was like a window frame or something, and it is not quite right in their other areas, aren't too bad. Well, sometimes when I want to clean up that kind of stuff, I find it's not best to see it on its own on the layer that's underneath. So I'm gonna go back to my preview, and I'm going to choose either on White or I'll choose on black. Usually, whichever one is closest to my background color that I'm putting this on. Ah, the background color is kind of in between and therefore, I could use either one. Ah, but I'm just trying to get one that gives me a good sense for what's going on with the edge. So what I want to do over here now is if I'm still in the same tool, that second tool from the bottom, I can now take away control. And I do that by either going to the upper left. And that's where we have a minus sign right here that would take away control. Or if I hold down the option key, Alton Windows its equipment to using that temporarily. And I'm used to lean on option to take away from things. So that's what I'm going to use. I have the option key held down, and I'm gonna make sure I don't paint on the subject of my picture. I'm going on lee paint where I see hints of the background showing up. So I hold on option and I click here. I'm taking photo shops control away from that area, and then it reverts back to the original selection that I had to determine if it should be there or not. If it messes up, choose undo Command Z Um some scene if I could take away some control and improve it if it doesn't improve it, choose Command Z controls and windows. Over here, I just see a haziness. I'll go not where I'm touching the fuzzy stuff, but just where there's a hint of haze that doesn't look fuzzy. Option Click. See if it cleans it up down here. I can also take control away in the subject area, like right here, where there might have been some hair that is disappearing and shouldn't see if it will come back. Sometimes it will. Sometimes it won't if it doesn't choose Command Z, but wherever it is that you option click clicking and windows, you're taking photo shops control away and therefore you reverting back to the original selection. It's often just because it had too much of an area he painted on a huge wide expanse. Appear there's a little bit where I see some background might need a tiny brush so I dont hit those, uh, Harry things. I'm option clicking. I can't tell that or not. I'm gonna try option clicking, see if it thins it out. Yeah, try here once again, but I think that messed up before, said she's undo. All right, At this point, I'm gonna stop trying t give Photoshopped control or not, and I'm going to take control. If you want to completely take control, go to the third tool down. The third tool down is where you can blatantly paint. It's a ziff. You're working on a layer mask and you're about to paint to add to or take away. So if I just paint here, I'm gonna bring the image back she was undo. If I hold down the option key Alton Windows and I paint, I'm gonna remove something. But it's blatant. So I'm probably gonna use a soft edged brush. Your brush tool is in the upper Ah, here, where you can change the settings and you can use standard keyboard shortcuts. So here I'm using a soft brush, and I'm just painting some of this away. I don't have to get all this toe look perfect, because the one thing we haven't done yet is that decontaminate colors, which will shift the color of these edge areas, and that might fix a lot of those things. So in fact, we could do that. I'll turn on decontaminate colors and bring it down a bit kind. Ah, so anyway, trying to take a little bit away here, remember, I'm in the third tool down, which is the one where you're just manually painting to bring things back or take them away. And you might want to goto on layers at this point to see what does it really look like in your end result? But I think we're not doing too bad here. Ah, look at the arm. Do you see the arm where you have a dark edge? Well, that's where the arms out of focus. And so I might need to come into that second tool. That's where I get Photoshopped control. And I never gave it control that wide. So I'm just gonna come in here and paint to say Photoshopped have control and I'm probably gonna have to paint all the way around this where I see that little dark band and when I let go is when it updates. Maybe I don't know if I got wide enough there, and the other thing is, if it's a color issue on the edge, then it could be that I need to turn up my decontaminate colors, so it pushes the color out more aggressively into that edge. There we go. OK, so I think that's a bit better. All right, so at this point, I'm gonna click, OK? And Sam? Done. Now let's go in here and you can see I didn't make my background perfect cause my background, fresh background retouching ended right here. That's just cause I don't have this clean stuff in there. I'm not going to spend the time to fix that because it doesn't have to with masking just paying attention to this upper portion. But I want to mention that's just if I turn off this layer, what's underneath doesn't have clean stuff there, but I I could have fixed that easily, just extending to further down, using the materials from over here in the healing. But that's a retouching issue, so it's a different, a different lesson. Ah, so now let's see if we might need to do something special here, and we might not need it for this image, but you still need to know it. But when we turn on decontaminate colors, it shifted the colors of the stuff that's on the edges and sometimes that doesn't improve the look, your picture. And if it doesn't, here's how you can bring back the original colors. We'll see if we need it or not. But any time used decontaminate colors, it forces you to end up with a duplicate layer in the original images right underneath. Well, here's how you can utilize that original image that's usually hidden right after you're done, Click on that middle layer in drag it to the top so it's at the top your layer stack, then turn on its eyeball, and that will be completely the original picture. Then there's a way to say I want the mask that's being used in the layer below to also apply to the layer above. Or another way to think of it is on Lee. Make the top layer show up where the layer underneath it shows up, and if you were in our layers, class is part of the complete guide. We did that a few times. We had the word Barcelona, and we had a photograph above it, and there was a way to make the photograph only show up where the text waas. We're doing the exact same thing right now, so I'm gonna go with that top layer selected and choose layer. Create clipping mask. When I choose that, watch the layer in the layers panel. You'll notice the down pointing arrow is going to appear in that down. Pointing arrow means this layer on Lee shows up where that layers visible, and therefore, if this mask is hiding this somewhere, it's also gonna hide that. So now if I turn the eyeball often on on this, you're going to see what it looks like when it's off with the colors of photo shop used with decontaminate colors. And when I turn it back on, you're going to see the original colors, and sometimes the original colors will look better. So when it's off, I noticed that this looks a lot better. Those really fuzzy areas, and I turn it on. You see those areas getting darker. But if I look at the very top when I have it off, the little feathery things turn pink. They took on some of the color this pink stuff, and when I turned on the original washed at the very top, do you see how it looks? Better, more white? So What I'm gonna do with this top layer when I usually do is add a layer mask. You click on the layer mask icon, and I'm gonna make it so that layer mask is black. So choose invert and therefore it's not applying anywhere. But now I can paint it in by painting with white. So I come up here, grab my paintbrush. I'm painting with white soft edged brush and just wherever the color didn't look good, I'm gonna paint to say no. Used the original colors just here. Original colors. Now there. I didn't like it, so choose. Undo. And maybe I get a smaller brush paint only on the inner part here, and you can preview What would it look like? We used the original colors by disabling this mask. If you had are masking class, that's part of the complete guide. You know, you hold down the shift key and click to do that, so that would show me what the original colors will bring me. And then I shift click again, and that's what these colors look like. And so I can decide where would I like it? And I come in here and paint say I like the original colors there. So anyway, I could do that kind of stuff that I could look through all this to see. Look at the edge where the text is. That looks terrible with the, um, with the modified color. So I gotta put it in right there and right there. So good enough with that. You get the idea, I hope. And I just needed to make a larger background that was clean for my replacement.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lessons 1 - 6 - Handbook 1: Introduction to Adobe Photoshop
Lessons 7 - 12 - Handbook 2: How to Use Camera Raw
Lessons 13 - 18 - Handbook 3: Making Selections
Lessons 19 - 24 - Handbook 4: Using Layers
Lessons 25 - 30 - Handbook 5: Using Layer Masks
Lessons 31 - 38 - Handbook 6: Using Adjustment Layers
Lessons 39 - 44 - Handbook 7: Color Theory
Lessons 45 - 51 - Handbook 8: Retouching Essentials
Lessons 52 - 59 - Handbook 9: Tools Panel
Lessons 60 - 64 - Handbook 10: Layer Blending Modes
Lessons 65 - 70 - Handbook 11: How to Use Filters
Lessons 71 - 74 - Handbook 12: Advanced Masks
Lessons 75 - 81 - Handbook 13: Using Smart Objects
Lessons 82 - 86 - Handbook 14: Photography for Photoshop
Lessons 87 - 93 - Handbook 15: Advanced Photo Retouching
Lessons 94 - 98 - Handbook 16: Warp, Blend, Liquify
Lessons 99 - 105 - Handbook 17: Advanced Layers
Lessons 106 - 112 - Handbook 18: Actions
Lessons 113 - 117 - Handbook 19: Troubleshooting Issues
Practice Images 1: Introduction to Adobe Photoshop
Practice Images 2: How to Use Camera Raw
Practice Images 3: Making Selections
Practice Images 4: Using Layers
Practice Images 5: Using Layer Masks
Practice Images 6: Using Adjustment Layers
Practice Images 7: Color Theory
Practice Images 8: Retouching Essentials
Practice Images 9: Tools Panel
Practice Images 10: Layer Blending Modes
Practice Images 11: How to Use Filters
Practice Images 12: Advanced Masks
Practice Images 13: Using Smart Objects
Practice Images 14: Photography for Photoshop
Practice Images 15: Advanced Photo Retouching
Practice Images 16: Warp, Blend, Liquify
Practice Images 17: Advanced Layers
Practice Images 18: Actions
Practice Images 19: Troubleshooting Issues

Ratings and Reviews

Noel Ice

I am an avid reader of photoshop books, and an avid watcher of photoshop tutorials. I have attended (internet) several hundred of presentations. In the course of this endeavor, I have found my own favorite photoshop websites and instructors. Creative Live is probably the bargain out there as well as among the top three internet course sites. I have to say with great enthusiasm that the best Photoshop instructor is Ben Willmore. There are many great ones, but truly, he is the best I have come across, and, as indicated above, I have watched literally 100s of tutorials on Photoshop. I have seen all of Ben's courses, I think, and among them, this one is the best by far, and that is saying a lot, because that makes this course the best course on Photoshop to be found anywhere. I am going back and watching it twice. Not only is it comprehensive, but Ben is so familiar with his subject that he is able to explain it like no other. This is crème de la crème of Photoshop classes. I have been wanting to write this review for some time because I have been so thoroughly impressed with everything about this class!

ford smith

Highly recommended if you want to take your Photoshop skills to the next level. Ben Willmore is clear, concise, and professional. He also has a good speaking voice that is not distracting but also keeps you engaged. Lastly, I would recommend that as you become more advanced, increasing the speed of the video (one of the options given on the menu)...especially if you've gone through the course once before and maybe want to watch it again. The double speed is very efficient as you become more advanced in Photoshop. Thanks for the help Ben!

a Creativelive Student

Wow. I cannot communicate the value of this course!! The true value in this course is how the instructor identifies workflows you'll need before you'll ever realize it, repeats important information without it becoming annoying, and explains the "why" behind the techniques so well that even if you forget the exact method, you can figure it out via the principles learned. Excellent value, excellent material, excellent instructor!!!

Student Work