I have had many people request an action/tutorial on making white backgrounds more white and dark backgrounds more dark. I usually tell them to try a levels or curves adjustment layer and mask out their subject, but there is a easier method. I actually finally googled it and found the inspiriation for this tutorial and action: Replace Color adjustment.
I have heard of Replace Color, but I never really played with it before. But this little adjustment makes it so simple to fix dark and white backgrounds. Andrea Berger, a professional photographer, sent me the image above of the little boy praying and the image below of the tacos for me to use as examples in this tutorial. Thank you so much Andrea! You can check out more of her amazing work here.
CoffeeShop BackDrop Fix Tutorial and Action UnWrapped:
If you would rather use an action please scroll down for the free download at the bottom of this post. Make sure you reference this tutorial so you will know how to use the action.
This is Andrea's before image. The background is brown, but I want it white.
Make a copy of your background layer (Ctrl-J) and then:
Photoshop: Image, Adjustment, Replace Color. Click on brown background and adjust the Fuzziness slider until the entire background is selected, and then adjust the Lightness slider up until you see the background become white. Don't worry about how it affects the main part of your image right now. Click OK.
Photoshop Elements: Enhance, Adjust Color, Replace Color. Follow the steps above.
See below. In this case I didn't make the background a solid white, but rather a soft off-white. I could have gone pure white if I had wanted to using this method.
This completely blew out all whites in the food section, so I added a layer mask and selected a hard to medium-hard black paintbrush, clicked on the mask to select it, and painted out the food. Depending on your image, you might not have to use the layer mask at all.
If you want to make sure you completely painted over everything important, click on the layer mask while pressing down Alt. The black area is where you have painted on the layer mask to remove the Lightness adjustment. As you can see I did a pretty decent job. Hold Alt and click again on the layer mask to see your image.
This should probably be done as a final step in your editing. Here is the "after" image below. You can also do the same type of editing with a dark background. Instead of dialing up the Lightness in Replace Color, dial it down to make the background darker.
If you decide to run the action you adjust Replace Color on the fly as it runs, and then the action adds a layer mask so you can remove the adjustment where needed.
If you are using PSE8 or below and you want edit without the action, you can download the free CoffeeShop Layer Mask action.
I wanted to mention if you are having issues installing actions, you can read all about it on my Action Install page. You can also post questions on my Facebook page (please don't forget to like my page).
If you would rather use an action to fix your BackDrop to save a little time, you can download the CoffeeShop BackDrop Fix HERE. You can also download it here!
I hope you enjoy this little tutorial. I told you before I am learning as I go. ;-) And I want to thank everyone for sending me great suggestions of things I could post on my blog. I am really trying my best to include a tutorial with most of my actions so you can really see what is going on behind the scenes.
Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.
For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.