How to Make an Image Transparent on Photoshop

How To Match a Subject Into ANY Background In Photoshop!

Subscribe on YouTube:

POWERFUL techniques to match a subject into any background in Photoshop!

Are you having trouble making your photo composite looking more realistic?

In this tutorial, I’ll be teaching you how to match a subject into any background in Photoshop for that seamlessly-perfect photo manipulation!

We will cover everything from masking, matching perspective, matching color, and everything you need to match a person into any background.

The Images Used

For this technique, I will be using an image of a female model standing in the middle of the street and an image of a dock. To follow along, you can download the links to the photos here:

Combine the Photos

Opening both images in Photoshop means you’ll have them in two separate tabs. Select the Move tool then click-and-drag the Model document over to the other Background tab to paste it there.

Hold the Shift key and release the mouse button so Photoshop centers the Subject on the Background image.

Press the Enter (Windows) or Return (macOS) key to place the image.

Remove the Background

For those with older versions of Photoshop, you can use the Quick Selection tool to help remove the background. Click-and-drag the tool over the Model layer to make a selection.

If you make a mistake, hold the Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) key to subtract from the current selection.

Press Ctrl D (Windows) or Command D (macOS) key to deselect.

For Photoshop 2020 Users, you have access to a powerful tool, the Object Selection tool. Select this tool and go to the Options bar.

Click on the Mode drop-down menu and select Lasso.

On the left part of the Options bar, click on the New Selection button.

Use the tool to make a loose selection out of the subject, and upon releasing the mouse button, Photoshop automatically analyzes the image using Adobe Sensei, an Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Fine-Tune the Selection

Zooming into the image, you’ll see that the space between the model’s legs has also been selected.

Use the Quick Selection tool and hold Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) key to click-and-drag around the area to deselect.

Create a Layer Mask

With the Model layer active, click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a layer mask based on the selection. This will only show the selected subject and parts of the image outside that selection will be hidden.

On the Layer Mask thumbnail, you’ll see how the selected subject is white while the hidden part of the image is black. To understand it easily, always remember, “White reveals, Black conceals.”

Placing the Subject

A matching perspective needs to be established so that the image composite looks like a real photo rather than a mere juxtaposition. If you want to know more about perspective, click here!

To explain more on this, disable the Model layer.

Select the Line tool.

On the Options bar, make sure to select Shape on the drop-down menu and set the weight to 10px.

In the dock image, you’ll see a triangle formation. We can make it more evident by using the Line tool to trace the lines to see where they meet.

The sharp point where the lines meet is known as the vanishing point, and you can always use this technique for more complex images where the horizontal and vertical lines are not as evident.

Note: the vanishing point is where the horizon always lies. Matching the horizons of the foreground and the background image is one of the keys to match the perspective and make it look realistic.

To see the horizon line in the Model layer, hold the Shift key and click on the Layer Mask thumbnail to reveal the original background.

Using the Line tool, trace the parallel converging lines to see where the vanishing point is, and here I can see that it lies right below her ear.

Reveal the layer mask again by holding the Shift key and clicking on the Layer Mask thumbnail.

With that in mind, place the point right below her ear to the vanishing point of the Dock image.

Use the Move tool to drag move the subject directly in place.

Fixing the Scaling

On your Background layer, click the lock icon to disable it. Then, right-click > Convert to Smart Object so that I can distort it non-destructively.

Next, press Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (macOS) to transform the image and drag the Reference Point onto the horizon line.

Hold Alt Shift (Windows) or Option Shift (macOS) and click-and-drag on the corner handle to scale the background image into perspective.

Scale the image down with the bottom of the image floating a few pixels above where the part of her legs are cropped.

Use the Crop tool to frame around the image and delete the rest of the excess canvas.

Press the Enter (Windows) or Return (macOS) to crop the image.

Since the image is a bit off-scale, select the Background layer and select the Move tool.

Click on the middle-left transformation handle while holding the Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) key when dragging it to the left to expand the image equally on both sides.

This creates a more balanced image with the weight equally distributed.

How the Levels Adjustment Layer Works

Creating a Black & White adjustment layer when working with a composite image allows you to see the luminosity difference between the background and the subject

Select the Model layer and create a Levels adjustment layer and we can work on adjusting the luminosity of the model and match it with the background’s luminosity.

Click on the Clip Layer Mask icon to clip the layer below it. That means any adjustment you make on the Levels will only be applied to the layer directly below it.

The adjustment handles are located on either side of the slider, and these represent the darkness to the lightness of the image.

If you drag the left handle to the right, you will notice that your subject becomes darker and the gradient below indicates how light are your white pixels and how dark are your black pixels.

The image below shows the original luminosity difference between the Background layer and the Model.

Now, the goal is to adjust the sliders and the gradient until the darkest pixels in your Background layer matches with the darkest pixels of the Model layer.

Now, disable the Black & White adjustment layer to see the result in the original color.

However, adjusting the levels also affects the color, hue, and saturation of the Subject and results to an unmatched warmth of the Subject layer and the cool tone of the Background.

To fix this, select the Levels adjustment layer and set the Blending Mode to Luminosity. This means the layer only adjusts the luminosity and not the color, hue, or saturation.

Then, rename this layer to “Luminosity.”

How to Match a Subject into any Background

As you can see, the background has a cool, blue tint and you have to match it with the subject to create a realistic composite.

Go to the Curves adjustment layer and click on the Clip Layer Mask icon to clip it to the layer below.

Select the layer thumbnail and hold Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) and click the Auto button to open the Auto Color Correction Options window.

On the Algorithms options, click the Find Dark & Light Colors to match the foreground and the background.

By default, it color corrects the darkest color of your image into black (#ffffff) and the lightest color of your image into white (#00000).

I’ll use this exact technology to cater to the needs of the image.

Click on the black swatch to open the Color Picker window.

With the Eyedropper tool, click on the shadows of the background. If you look closely, the darkest color of my image composite is not pure black and in fact, it has a color tint.

Select OK to select this color as your Shadow Color for the foreground.

For the brightest pixels of the background, make sure not to click on any specular highlights. For this image, select on the ice as my Highlights Color.

Select OK to exit the window.

Immediately, you’ll notice how the auto color correction works by applying it to the subject to match the background.

Select OK to exit the window and in the next dialog box, click NO to avoid using the new target Highlights and Shadows as your new defaults.

Notice how the luminosity has changed? To keep this consistent, change the Blending Mode into Color to keep the hue and saturation while disregarding luminosity.

If you find the effect too intense, feel free to adjust the opacity accordingly.

Then, rename the layer into “Color.”

Adjust the Saturation

If the colors are too intense, click on the New Adjustment Layer icon > Hue/Saturation > click on the Clip Layer Mask icon to only affect the layer below it.

Adjust your saturation and hue accordingly. For this image, decreasing the saturation little is enough.

Creating a Shallow Depth of Field

Hold the Shift key and click on the layer mask thumbnail of the model layer to bring back its original background. The original image has a shallow depth of field, and you have to match it with the current composite.

To do that, retrieve the layer mask and click on the background layer. Then go to Filter > Blur Gallery > Tilt-Shift.

Click here if you need an in-depth tutorial on depth of fields!

In this Filter, you see two solid lines, and anything between the two solid lines and the dashed lines will be a gradual transition between in focus (sharp pixels) and out of focus (blurry pixels).

Drag the upper solid line at the bottom of the image and the dashed line around the forearm area. Now, you have a realistic blurry background!

Edit the Image as a Whole

Select the Background layer and place all the layers into a Smart Object so you can manipulate them as a single layer.

Select the Background > hold Shift key > click the Hue/Saturation layer to select all the layers in between > right-click > select Convert to Smart Object.

Go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter.

With Camera Raw Filter, you can adjust the exposure, highlight, shadows, and vibrance of the photo as a whole image.

Detail Tab

Go to the Detail tab and add a bit of sharpening.

PRO TIP: If you hold the Alt (Window) or Option (macOS) key while adjusting the Masking slide to the right, you’ll see white areas where the sharpening effect applies. Meanwhile, areas where the sharpening effect isn’t applied is indicated by the black areas.

The HSL Tab

From here, you can adjust the hue, saturation, and luminance with the following sliders–giving you full control of every pixel in the image!

Fx (Effects) Tab

A smooth, computer generated-looking image usually happens after applying multiple layers of adjustments and filters. A quick fix can be achieved by increasing the amount of Grain in the image to bring back the realistic look.

Fine-Tune the Image

Take this time to fine-tune your cropping and make sure it is symmetrical and proportionate.

If you click on the thumbnail of your Smart Object, it will take you to a new tab where you can adjust the mask of the model to reveal or hide some pixels.

One trick is to click on the layer mask > Select and Mask.

Set your View to On White (T) and set the Opacity to 100%.

Through this, you can adjust the edges of the mask by adding contrast, smoothening it, etc. Simply press OK to exit the window.

Fix the Mask Between Hair Strands

Three factors that can make it difficult to fine-tune the mask between the hair strands: the thinness of the hair strands, the depth of field, and the color of its former background.

To fix this, you can try to move the subject to adjust its placement on the composition.

Option 1: Using the Blend If

You can also create a new layer above the Model layer, select the Brush tool, and paint the small area with the color blue nearest to the hair.

To set that color as your Foreground color, press the Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) key to bring out the Eyedropper tool to select the color.

Next, change the layer Blending Mode to Color.

The natural brunette hair becomes blue. To retrieve the natural hair color, double-click on the layer to bring out the Layer Style window.

On the Blend If option, you’ll find the Underlying Layer slider and drag the left handle to the right to bring back the color of the hair.

Then, hold Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) and click on the handle to split it in half. Use the new handle to adjust and create a smooth transition. When you’re satisfied, press OK to exit the window.

Option 2: Painting in the Hair

Another option you can do is to paint in the hair using the Brush tool. You can start by creating a new layer and using brushes specifically for the hair to retrieve the original color of the hair.

If you want to know more about this, I have a video tutorial that will teach you how to create brushes for hair!

Go to the Libraries panel select any of your hairbrushes saved and use it.

Next, select the Eyedropper tool or simply press the I key on your keyboard to pick up the color of the subject’s hair.

Set the brush size to an easily manageable width. Then, with one click, paint on the layer.

Press Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (macOS) to transform the object and flip it horizontal or vertical to adjust, move, and match with the original hair.

Create a layer mask by pressing Alt (Windows) or Options (macOS) and click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to hide the content. Select the color white as your Foreground color and use an ordinary round brush to reveal parts of the hair brush paint you want to show.

To adjust the luminosity of the new hair strands, go to Image > Adjustment Levels and use the handles in the Input Levels to lighten or darken the hair to match with the subject’s original hair.

When you’re satisfied with the fine-tuning, press Ctrl S (Windows) or Command S (macOS) keys and close the existing tab. Then, all of the adjustments will be applied and updated on the Smart Object.

For any details you may have missed, you can quickly go back to the Smart Object to refine it and save the changes by pressing Ctrl S (Windows) or Command S (macOS).

And that’s how you match a subject with any background just by using tools and filters you’re already familiar with.

I hope this has been informational for you and may help you in your new workflow!

How To Change a Background In Photoshop

Subscribe on YouTube:

Learn how to change a background in Photoshop with these easy-to-follow professional techniques! You will learn about masking, matching lighting, matching perspective, and a whole lot more!

Time needed: 5 minutes. To change a background in Photoshop follow these basic steps. Place Your Background Image After you open your photo, bring in the new background image by going into File > Place Embedded. Resize the image to fill the background. Place the new background Image Below the Original Photo Layer Stacking order matters. From the Layers Panel, drag the new background image layer below the original photo. Remove the Background From The Original Photo Select the original image from the Layers Panel, then from the Properties Panel click on “Remove Background.” This command will use machine learning technology to find the main subject of the image and apply a layer mask to remove the background. Fine-Tune the Layer Mask In most cases, the Layer Mask that hides the background will need some work. Select the Brush Tool from the Toolbar and paint with either black or white. Black will hide pixels, and white will reveal hidden pixels.

How To Change a Background In Photoshop – Beyond The Basics

After removing the background from your original image you should have a pretty good background replacement. However, in some cases, you may need to do a bit more work to get realistic results.

Keep in mind no two background replacements are the same. Each job will require unique adjustments, but these techniques should cover common issues in background changes in Photoshop.

Matching The Light Source on a New Background

When you import your new background, make sure that the lighting source is pointing in the same direction as your foreground image.

If your light sources are not matching, you can simply flit the background image horizontally. You can do so, by pressing Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (macOS) to transform the layer. Then you can right-click and select Flip Horizontal from the dropdown menu.

Alternatively, you could flip the foreground image using the same technique.

Matching Brightness on a New Background

Your background and Foreground images were most likely shot at different times of day with varying lighting conditions. This means that you will need to do some sort of brightness or color matching.

From the new Adjustment Layer icon and select Levels. With this adjustment layer, you can adjust the brightness of the image and add/subtract color.

Be sure to only affect your foreground image and not the entire composition. Press Ctrl G (Windows) or Command G (macOS) to create a Clipping Mask. With a Clipping Mask, your adjustment layer will only affect the layer directly below it.

You can then make adjustments to brighten or darken your foreground so that it matches your background.

Another thing that I would recommend that you do is to apply a color using the channels option. From the dropdown, you can select Red, Green, or Blue.

With the Red Channel, you can add red or subtract red to get cyan. In the Green Channel, you can add green or subtract green to get magenta. In the Blue Channel, you can add blue or subtract blue to get yellow.

Apply the colors that best suit your background image.

Matching Perspective When Changing Backgrounds

When you’re learning how to change a background in Photoshop oftentimes perspective is overlooked.

You can get pretty much get everything right in a composite. Lighting, color, shadows, and extractions, but if the perspective is off, your viewer will know something is not right. They might not know exactly what it is, but they’ll know there’s something wrong with the image.

To match the perspective in Photoshop you first need to determine where the horizon line of your foreground image is. The horizon line is the “eye-level” of the photo. Where the camera was when the photo was shot.

You can easily find the Horizon line in one of two ways.

First, you can try imagining your image without any buildings, streets, or any other obstructions. Just the ground and the sky. Where in the photo do you think the ground will end and the sky will begin? That meeting point is the Horizon Line. You probably have seen it when you look at a photo of the ocean and the sky. If you can’t visualize it in your mind, you could instead enable the Line Tool, and in a blank layer, you could trace over the parallel converging lines to see where they meet. That meeting point will be your vanishing point, and that will be where the horizon line sits.

Once you know where the Horizon Line of your original image is, you will need to find the horizon line of your new background.

Then with the Move Tool, you will need to place the new background so that it matches the original background’s horizon line.


You can disable the Layer Mask to see your original background by holding Shift and clicking on the Layer Mask Thumbnail.

You can press Ctrl R (Windows) / Command R (macOS) to enable the rulers, and drag down a guide to place it over the horizon line.

After you reposition the background you might see transparent pixels either above or below the image. To fill with similar content you can use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the transparent pixels. Then go into Edit > Content-Aware Fill.

If your Content-Aware Fill is grayed out it is probably because you have a Smart Object as your background image. To convert it into a pixel layer, right-click on it and select “Rasterized.”

Match The Background Image’s Depth of Field (Blur)

Another important thing you need to think about when you change a background in Photoshop is the Depth of Field.

If your original image has a shallow depth of field then you will need to blur the background image. Especially if your main subject also has areas that are out of focus.

One easy way to get a realistic background blur is to apply a Tilt-Shift Blur. With your new background layer selected, go into Filter, Blur Gallery, and select Tilt-shift.

In this filter, everything in between the two solid lines will remain in focus. While things in between the solid line and the dashed line gradually become blurry.

If you were to imagine how a lens will blur the background, then you can probably figure out where to place this blur over your image.

Where your subject is standing will be in focus and there will be a gradual transition to a blurry background.

Place the center blur dot where your subject’s feet would be. Even if they are out of the canvas. Then place the dashed line behind them to create the gradual blurry transition

Apply a Cohesive Adjustment When Changing Backgrounds

When you change backgrounds in Photoshop, it’s always a good idea to apply global adjustments to bring all the images together and make them feel more cohesive.

You can do so by adding noise, a vignette, or applying a color grade. One easy thing that you can apply is a global color adjustment.

You can go into the New Adjustment Layer icon, and choose Color Lookup.

You can think of this Adjustment Layer as a filter that colors your image much like an Instagram filter. From the 3D LUT dropdown, you can select any look that you want.

Tap on the down arrow key to toggle between the LUTs. If you find one that you like, but it’s too intense, you can always reduce the Opacity.

Learn More About How To Change a Background In Photoshop

To learn more about these compositing techniques make sure to check out my Photoshop Compositing Secrets Video!

Tutorial Download

364 – Change Backgrounds in Photoshop 759 downloads 956 KB Download

How to Make an Image Transparent on Photoshop

How to Make an Image Transparent on Photoshop by Brenda Barron on Dec 14, 2022

Need to play around with the transparency of your latest image?

Making an image transparent – even partially, can give you endless ways to enhance your material. For instance, you can combine images to create something new for your customers or add a transparent image to a product for branding reasons.

The question for many beginners in the photo editing world, is how do you make an image transparent?

The simple answer is Photoshop.

If you don’t have it yet, you can get Photoshop here from Adobe’s site.

Photoshop is a popular image manipulation tool that allows you to add transparency to your photos in a range of different ways. Today, we’re going to look at three different ways you can add transparency to your pictures by discussing how to:

Make layers transparent

Create transparent selections in photos

Create a transparent background

Make the most of your transparent images

Let’s begin.

Option 1: Making Layers Transparent

If you’re wondering how to make an image transparent for your portfolio, one easy option is to learn how to make layers transparent. When you make a layer transparent, you can add it to other images, or place it onto products without worrying about background edges and opacity. You can even use layers to touch-up your photos.

Select the layer you want to make transparent by clicking on the Layers tab – it looks like a folded page.

tab – it looks like a folded page. Select the opacity level in the box that appears at the top of the Layers . The default is 100%, but you can take it as low as 0%.

. The default is 100%, but you can take it as low as 0%. Save your image as a .PNG file to preserve the transparency.

Option 2: Creating Transparent Selections

If you want to merge or combine pictures in your portfolio, then you might need to make parts of your layer transparent. To do this, you’ll need to select your layer again like above, but make sure that the layers underneath that image are transparent. Select the area you want to alter using the selection tool, then:

Copy the area by right-clicking and choosing Copy

Delete the selection with the Del button

button Paste your copied selection into a new layer

Lower the opacity on that layer

Option 3: Making a Transparent Background

Maybe you want the focus of your image to be clear and opaque, but the background to be transparent so that you can combine pictures or move the subject of your image elsewhere. To do this, you’ll need to create a transparent background.

Click on File, then New in Photoshop and a new window will appear.

then in Photoshop and a new window will appear. Go to the section that says, “Background Contents” and select Transparent then click OK

then click OK Go to your Layers section and make sure it looks like a checkered white and gray box – this will confirm that the layer is transparent.

section and make sure it looks like a checkered white and gray box – this will confirm that the layer is transparent. Add your image

Once you place your image into the transparent background, you’ll be able to remove any edges or extra elements from the photo that you also want to be transparent. To do this, click on the Eraser tool or Magic Eraser tool on the left-hand side of the image. Drag the eraser over the areas that you want to make transparent.

Getting the Most out of Your Transparent Photos

Once you’ve learned how to make an image transparent in Photoshop, it’s important to make sure that you can use those images without them accidentally taking on a new background when you open the file. The key is to make sure that your layers don’t merge when you’re saving your Photoshop file.

When saving your new transparent photo, click on the Format drop-down menu and select the PNG option. Choose a location where you’ll be able to easily find your image and hit the Save button.

If you can’t see a PNG file option on your Photoshop documents, then you may be editing your image in the CMYK format, which means that you’ll need to convert it into the RGB mode, so you can save as a PNG file. Don’t save as JPG as this will eliminate all of your hard work.

There you have it – learning how to make an image transparent with Photoshop was probably much easier than you thought! Now you can use your transparent photos to create a stunning selection of pictures to add to your growing portfolio!

For more quick Photoshop tips and photography advice, remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Leave A Comment