How to Change Background Color in Photoshop

Transform your photos and highlight special memories

Photoshop background change

Charles Harker/Getty Image​s

Changing the color of a picture's background can have a dramatic effect on how it looks and one of the best tools to do that with is Adobe Photoshop -- although there are some great alternatives. Whether you have the full version or a free trial, there are a few different methods you can use to do it.

Here’s how to change background color in Photoshop.

Change the Background Color for a New Image

Changing the background before you create a new image is the quickest way to set it to your preference.

Photoshop color change

When you make a new document in Photoshop, there will be an option to choose your background color. Use its drop-down menu or color-select box to choose the color you would prefer the background to be. When you create the new image, it will have your choice as its background color.

n Photoshop CC 2018 that option will be in the bottom right-hand corner of the new document window. In older versions of Photoshop, it will be located at the bottom of the window.

To change the color of the background after creating the image, you can create a brand new background in a color of your choice:

  1. Select the Layer tab at the top of the window.

  2. Select New Fill Layer, then select Solid Color – unless you particularly want a gradient or pattern background.

  3. Give the new layer a name, then select OK when prompted.

  4. Select a color from the palette and select OK again.

Change the Background Color in Existing Images

Before you can change the color of the background in Photoshop you need to select it. Here are a few ways to do it, whether you're working on Windows or macOS:

  • Use the magic wand tool: It's quick and dirty and works best when there are stark differences between the foreground and background, but it can work rather well if you're short on time or patience. To do so, select the Magic Wand tool from the left-hand menu (it's the fourth one down and looks like a wand). Then, hold Shift and select the different parts of the background you want to change the color of.
  • Use the lasso tool: If the magic wand is a bit too heavy handed or not nuanced enough to select all of your background, the lasso tool can be helpful. There are three you can leverage for the same purpose. Select and hold the third-option in the left-hand menu to be given a choice. The standard lasso requires drawing around the background by hand; Polygonal Lasso will let you draw defined, straight lines; Magnetic Lasso will stick to existing lines and edges. When you’ve finished drawing around your background, either connect back to the starting point to finalize it, or press Ctrl+Click. If you’re using a tablet running Windows 10, pressing and holding on the screen will give you the option to right-click, which opens a contextual menu with additional functions. Select the one you need, then tap for the same function.
  • Use the masking tool: If you want a super precise way of selecting the background of an image, you can use the masking tool. It's the tool second-from-bottom in the left-hand menu. Select it, then use a paintbrush or similar tool to "paint" your selection. This can be combined with the above methods to fine tune an existing selection. You should see the areas you've selected appear in red. When you've happy with your selection, select the masking tool again to see your selection in dashed lines.
Masking

If the background is much larger than the foreground when making a selection with any of the above methods, select the foreground instead, then press Ctrl+Shift+I to invert your selection and highlight the background.

Now that you've selected the background, it's time to change its color. You can do so in a couple of different ways, depending on what color you want the background to be:

Change Hue

Press Ctrl+U to bring up the Hue and Saturation menu. Use the Hue slider to tweak the hue of your background. It will maintain the same lighting levels as before, but the overall color palette will change.

If you would rather have a more uniform color to the background, you can first remove it, then add it back in before adjusting the hue. To do so, press Ctrl+Shift+U to turn the image to grayscale, then open the Hue and Saturation menu as before. Select Colorize to add color back into the background, then use the Hue slider to adjust its color.

Paint Over It

If you would rather have a blank color as your background, you can simply paint over the one you have already.

  1. On Windows and macOS, press F7 to open the layers window.

  2. Select New Layer to create a new layer. It's the second icon from the right.

  3. Select Fill Tool from the left-hand menu. This is the 12th icon from the top that looks like a paint bucket.

  4. Use the color palette at the base of the left-hand menu to select your background color, then simply select within your selection to create a blank color.

If you would prefer a gradient effect in your background, select and hold Fill Tool to give you the option of the gradient bucket, then select and drag within your selection to create a gradient color for your new background.