Tuesday, August 18

CoffeeShop Photoshop/PSE Tutorial: How to Add a Person to a Digital Backdrop!

Today I wanted to put together a tutorial where I show you how I would add a baby to a digital background. This is a really fun technique and I think you will enjoy it!

My friend Jill Wellington (Etsy ShopFacebook, Blog, YouTube Videos, Pixabay) sells beautiful digital backgrounds so I am using one of her backgrounds and also one of her baby images in this tutorial.

I have never been successful at this technique as I had issues matching lighting and color between the two images. However, I watched Jill's video tutorial and got some really great tips and I feel more confident. I am using her video tutorial and a few of my own twists to do this edit, so I would suggest watching Jill's video before reading my tutorial below. She goes into much more detail and discusses things I didn't have time to cover.

CoffeeShop Photoshop/PSE Tutorial: Adding a Baby to a Digital Background

These are my starting images, both from Jill. I wanted to show you that you don't have to photograph you baby/child against a neutral background. In fact, most of Jill's background have gorgeous outdoor light, so it would be better for you to use an image photographed outside in natural light.

It is also a good idea to add the baby before using any actions. Once your baby looks like it belongs in the background, then run your action.

Watch Jill's Video Tutorial for additional editing tips!

Select Baby: There are many ways to select a person in Photoshop, and I am just going to show you the way I usually do it. I click "W" to grab the magic wand and make sure the Quick Selection Tool (screenshot above) is selected. Then I click around on the baby to select him. I hold alt to remove from the selection if I go over the lines.

It is best to zoom in and take your time.

Click on the Refine Edge button on top while the baby is selected and you will be able to see how well you did. In this case I am pretty happy with my selection. I can always erase anything "over the lines" later after adding him to the background.

I left the wooden box in the selection even thought it won't show in my final image. This way I can get an idea where my baby's bottom should be located. In my first version my poor baby was sitting up much too high and it cracked Jill up. Either my baby was floating in midair OR sitting on a pillow. This time I think I was more successful.

Note: Once you select the baby, you can save him and use him on several backgrounds. :-)

Add Baby to Background: Now click on your selected baby and drag it on your digital background. Resize baby to fit (Ctrl-T). Then dial down the opacity of the baby layer so you can see the background and drag him where he would be sitting/standing naturally. Dial back up the opacity when you are finished.

You can use an erasure to remove the bottom of the baby, but I prefer to add a layer mask and use a black hard brush. This way if I remove too much I can add it back in with a white brush on the layer mask.

If you want to remove something against a straight line, click on the beginning of the selection, hold shift, and then click on the end and it will remove the edge cleanly.

Correct Color: There are so many ways to do this, but this is the technique Jill taught me in her video and it is brilliant!  Take a few minutes and go watch it for more details. I have never seen this technique before and it is so easy compared to the other tutorials I have seen and it works quite well.

I clicked the background to select it and then went to Filter, Blur, Average.

This is what my background looks "averaged". I grabbed my eyedropper (I) and clicked on this background to change the foreground color palette to match.

Then I went up to Edit, Undo Average to return my background to its former glory.

Then I added a Color Fill adjustment layer on top of the baby and grouped it to the baby layer. it should automatically apply the foreground color I selected with the eyedropper-click on the blurred averaged background.

Poor baby, he looks horrible!

Then I put this layer in Soft light or Overlay blending mode and adjusted the opacity to taste. Now baby matches his background.

Adjusting Contrast: Then I clicked on the baby layer and added a Levels adjustment layer and adjusted the sliders to match the contrast of the baby to the background. In this case I had to add contrast.

Then I decided that the red on his jumper did not really match the red of the wagon, so I clicked on the baby layer again and added a Hue/Saturation layer and adjusted the Master Hue until I loved the color and then adjusted the Saturation to taste.

I filled the mask with black, zoomed in, and used a hard white 100% opacity brush to add that color to his jumper.

If your baby has any color casts on his skin or hair (reddish skin or green from grass is often a problem), then add another Hue/Saturation layer and change the setting from "Master" to the color cast (like Green) and lower the saturation to remove the color. You can then fill the mask with black and paint on the image with a soft white brush to remove the unwanted color where needed.

Flatten and you are done! Here is the baby in the wagon, together at last. I am actually pretty satisfied with this edit as I don't think he looks too fake. Now I can finally run my action.

Here is my final result: "Vintage Baby in Wagon".  I used a new action I just wrote, "Aphrodite Luxe" and will be posting it here for download in a few days. I think it looks amazing on portraits and doesn't blow out fair skin as much as my original "Aphrodite" action.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial. I would love to see your own images using digital backgrounds on my Facebook page.

Want to see anything specific on my site such as editing tutorials, storyboards, actions, etc? Just leave a comment as I am always looking for new ideas for posts.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets 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.

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  1. Thanks for your post. It was timely for me. I shot a wedding Saturday for a family that lost one of their children. The mother of the groom asked if I could photoshop the brother in. I couldn't remember how to do it and knew I'd need a tutorial. I scrolled down on FB and there was your post. It was nice to not have to wade through tutorials. The MOTG was so pleased when I emailed her the picture.


  2. Very cool tutorial. Thanks for it and the link to Jill's tutorial I have learned so much from the two of you over the past couple months.

    Lisa D.

  3. This post is very interesting! I was also wondering how to create a quilted "style" to make shapes like hearts, hexagons, squares, or even text look a little puffy. Then I could do a stitch path around them to make it look stitched yet. I was trying to see what I could come up with using bevels or inner glows but it just doesn't look quite right! Can you help?

    1. Jalisa, I will look into that and let you know!

  4. I saw this one pixabay https://pixabay.com/illustrations/quilting-fat-quarters-fabric-3853199/ and it's neat but I'd like to know how to do it on my own designs by myself! Here's another neat option but again, I'd rather learn the steps than use this https://sahindesigns.com/products/puffy-fabric-photoshop-layer-styles-actions-cu/ Thanks!!

  5. Have you had a chance to figure anything out on this, Rita? I'm still interested in learning how to make my own puffy layer style in Photoshop Elements 2020. But I understand "busy" so don't worry if it's not happening just yet!

  6. Don't worry about the puffy quilted style I asked about above! Pixelscrapper recently offered a free kit of choice and I chose that one! So I'm all set there!


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