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Place a Subject Seamlessly on a New Background

By Matt Kloskowski  ·  November 19th, 2011

Making composite images that look realistic can be a complicated task. Here, Matt shows you how to make a quick, clean selection, and then how to merge it seamlessly into a new background.


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78 Replies to Place a Subject Seamlessly on a New Background:

  1. Paul

    November 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Just an excallent techniques.

  2. Vivian

    November 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Cannot wait to try this! Superb tutorial.

  3. Jo

    November 20, 2011 at 3:14 am

    This should be compulsory viewing!! Fantastic.

  4. Helen

    November 20, 2011 at 6:29 am

    This has got to be one of the BEST tips ever!!!!! Thanks for this, Matt!

  5. Greg

    November 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Fantastic! Love it.

  6. Julie

    November 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    This is a great tip. Thanks, Matt….

  7. luca

    November 22, 2011 at 4:09 am

    a killer tips…
    thank you guys for all your so valuable work

  8. Deena

    November 22, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Awesome tip!

  9. ruth

    November 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Very helpful.

  10. Marilyn

    November 22, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Bravo! Thanks for this little gem of a tip. I’m just learning to extract and believe me, this is magic.

  11. James

    November 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I have just downloaded the latest quicktime.. I have windows 7, but when I click on the triangle to view a video I get a blank black screen . any suggestions.

  12. Rudy

    November 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Matt is the best! (as usual)

  13. John

    November 28, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    I love this video, but unfortunately I come to a screeching halt at the point where you “tear the image off the dock”, about 1/2 way through the video. Mine does not have a frame around it like yours does in the video, so that is where I stop. What do I need to change to be able to bring in the 2nd image without pasting it over the layer mask.
    Thanks John

    • Michael

      December 13, 2011 at 9:50 am

      John, I have the same question. But what works for me is I just drag another open photo in the project bin into the other picture thats currently open. It may not be the right way but it works. I ‘m a newbie to elements. I just bought #10 version of elements.
      I was able to complete the project by using the drag and drop.

    • Dawn

      November 6, 2014 at 9:14 am

      I as well followed along very well up to this point……then at 11:00 was so frustrated with getting the second picture in a second box in the frame. I replayed it over and over and see where you clicked to aquire it, but when I click on that icon…no magical basketball player appears. Apparently I am missing a step. I tried to wing it but to no avail. I really need to learn layers and the video was amazing until that point. Also, I am running Elements 13 so stuff looks very different which makes things more interesting. Please help.

      The Davison Point, Ltd.

  14. Lee

    November 30, 2011 at 1:59 am

    I also appreciated this tutorial.

    However, what really struck me, Matt, is what an excellent teacher you are: style, clarity, tone of voice. It’s a pleasure to watch your tutorials.

  15. Robert C

    December 2, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Keep them coming, Matt, you are number 1

  16. David

    December 4, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Not sure why this works, but just that it works is good enough for me. I keep picking up and learning little bits and pieces about brush blend modes and uses for them. It would be awsome some time to perhaps have a whole series on brush blend modes. Powerful tools, just not a lot of matieral about them.

  17. Robert

    December 4, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Great tip, thanks Matt.

  18. GORDON J

    December 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    This is awsome!

  19. Laura

    December 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Terrific finessing technique that I don’t recall seeing elsewhere. It’s a keeper. Thanks, Matt.

  20. Brian

    December 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Very useful! One of the best tutorials I’ve seen!

  21. Kornelis

    December 5, 2011 at 9:12 am

    This is one of the best videos on this subject that I have seen but I have elements 8, is there anyway to do it with this version.

  22. Joyce

    December 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Love this tutorial, thanks so much!!

  23. Stephen

    December 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I only recently started using Elements. I had to do this (as an exercise) 3 times, before I grasped all the points. Now that I understand, I like this a lot!

  24. Tony

    December 6, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Thanks for sharing this very good idea!

  25. Donna

    December 9, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Wow! I love that. …hope I will remember it when I need it.

  26. Derrick

    December 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Great video. This will save me countless hours of work. I replace the sky in my pictures all the time, and I will be using this tip often going forward. I found the video to be useful, well presented and very informative.

  27. JoAnn

    December 16, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for this great video. Please have more like this. Need good video on cloning in Elements 10. Also need great videos on gradients. Use videos all the time.

  28. Carolyn

    December 20, 2011 at 8:01 am

    This is fantastic. I know I will have a lot of uses for this technique and my copying of subjects will be less obvious in photos. Thanks, Matt!

  29. Mary

    December 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks so much. I do digital painting and this will make some of my projects so much cleaner looking. Great tutorial.

  30. Clarke

    January 10, 2012 at 8:01 am

    This tutorial was fantastic. It required so many operations!! Thanks Matt Clarke

  31. Karen

    January 11, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Best video ever,I always struggle with removing things from their backgrounds. Will use this so much. As usual you guys provide great information and ideas. Keep em coming. Love them.

  32. Maha

    January 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

    OMG! You just solved one of my most frustrating moments I’ve had with fringing. Thank you so much! Awesome tutorial!

  33. Barbara

    January 14, 2012 at 9:17 am

    You’re the man, Matt! I’ve tried a dozen different approaches to eliminate fringe/halo, but this is undoubtedly magic!! THIS is what I’ve been looking for! A million thanks! (You’ve saved me HOURS!!! (Just this morning alone!))

  34. Gwen

    January 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    After this video I feel that I can really do this. Thanks!

  35. sandy

    January 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I am a new subscriber and new at photoshop. Great video!!

  36. Kathryn

    February 1, 2012 at 8:47 am

    This is just an amazing technique! Outstanding job, as always, with the presentation.

  37. Willem

    February 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Great tutorial, can’t wait to try it

  38. Alfred

    February 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Great stuff. amazing knowledge and metnod of ‘delivery’ “Ben”

  39. Jill

    February 6, 2012 at 9:14 am

    I have Elements 8 and would love to know how to do this. Any chance?

  40. jose

    February 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Thank You Matt, this video is one of the Best on how to move one image into another background.

    • esther

      February 16, 2012 at 6:45 am

      please please help. ive watched this video almost a dozen times and its not working. when i click on overlay in the palette box the picture that i dragged in disappears.when i leave it on normal i get red on the areas i am brushing… or when i try using the brush it doesnt work….please someone help me out!! thanks

  41. Ray

    February 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    A great tip / technique, but in my opinion you rushed over the crucial part. You spent a lot of time showing us the selection process in great detail (adding a bit here, subtracting a bit there) – but when it came to the actual step of adding in the new image, it was way too quick – that part was covered in just a few seconds, and I found it hard to follow – and that was one of the key steps in the whole process.

    • Nancy RC

      April 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Ray I agree. That crucial part was skimmed over. Without knowing where he got his other background from, ie: Finder or another program, and how to import it, the process stopped there for me! I have asked him to clarify that point.

      • Wilhelm

        August 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm

        Yes I have the same problem! Wish he would show a tutorial on how to combine the 2 images.
        Very difficult and very frustrating to follow.

        Yes, can you please be more specific.
        Thank you very much

      • Wilhelm

        August 14, 2013 at 8:50 pm

        Yes please be more specific with details such as how to get the background on to the selected image. After all, we are all beginners.

  42. Peter

    March 14, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Excellent video and PDF cheat sheet. Only problem I have is when I click & drag the image with the selection and layer mask to the new background, the layer mask doesnt go withy the image. Just the selected part of the image. What am I doing wrong? (I’m using PSE version 9).

    • Peter

      March 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Update on my own comment! Can now apply the image with aselection AND layer mask to new background. How? Page 31 of March/April Elements Techniques. “Tips and Tricks” — Move (multiple) Layers to another Docuent. This approach (Layer>Duplicate Layer) brings the layer mask as well.

  43. Doris

    March 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Excellent tutorial. Just what I needed to know.

  44. Andy

    March 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Matt was using a Mac and the tear and apply is not used in Windows that I can find. We also are missing how to get overlay to work as in the video.

  45. Nancy RC

    April 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    where are you dragging your background picture (baseball field) in from? from another program? from Finder? How do you bring it in and where do you bring it from? What is the process? That is a crucial part and it was not covered. All you mentioned is that you brought it in. That left a big gaping hole in the process for me. Thanks

    • Lynn

      April 30, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Well, Nancy, what I did was just open both photos at the same time. I left the new background photo in the bin until I was ready for it, then brought it into the work area and did the drag move. You could also open a couple of different background photos (even while you’re working) till you find the one you want to use. I just hop to Files->Open because I don’t use the organizer a whole lot.

    • Wilhelm

      August 14, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      so true, it is certainly not meant for beginners!

  46. Lynn

    April 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Great tutorial! –And the cheatsheet was a big help because I didn’t have to jump from monitor to monitor stopping and starting the video.

    Best of all –NO MORE “ALIEN GREEN” GLOW!

    Thanks, Matt!

  47. Karen

    April 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    This tutorial is absolutely fantastic. Oh why have I not been checking this website more frequently lately. Could have used this on a picture that I spent who knows how long on extracting out about two weeks ago. I can not wait to try this one! Thanks and keep them coming! Just downright awesome.

  48. Eleanor

    May 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I was able to follow up until the step of clicking on the mask layer and changing to overlay. My picture disappeared in the background. Any idea? I cannot go further because Icannot figure out why my subject keeps disappearing…. I am using PSE 10

    • Eleanor

      May 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      I found my answer. I actually went to the advance spreadsheet and he explains it. I think the video said to click on the mask overlay box and change the mode to overlay. So when I clicked on my mask overl box, I changed the layer to overlay. Its not the layer you change… its your brush mode. I could see where this was a mix up.

      8. When you zoom in close to the edge of your subject, you’ll notice a
      glowing fringe. To fix this problem, click on the layer mask. Select the
      Brush tool, make sure your foreground color is black and go to your tool
      options bar. Change the Mode of the brush to Overlay and start painting
      over that glowing fringe. It will start to go away, but keep your subject

      Thanks … love the videos.

  49. Marsha

    May 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    This is the most wonderful tip for the fringing. I am however using PSE 8. I do have Grant’s Tools installed…can I do the overlay tip with that?

  50. Kevin

    August 20, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Love this ! Best subscription i’ve ever had for anything, EVER !!!!!!

  51. Jim

    September 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Great time saver! I hope I can remember it! :blush:

    However, at least in my experiments, I notice that the brush can continue ‘erasing’ stuff with each NEW ‘swipe.’ In other words, if you release the primary mouse button, then re-press it, you are actually starting a whole new edit. This is one way many apps know when you have stopped doing something and started again, of course. But if you now ‘swipe/paint’ over the edge again, you will take off even more of it. And it may not really have the ‘glow’ that we wanted to remove now, it’s just the actual edge of the mask that is getting erased. It should be fairly obvious when there is a good deal of contrast between the two layers. And if there’s not much contrast, it will be less visible. DOH!

    Just a minor point to consider; be careful where you ‘paint’ each time. One way to help would be to make sure the whole image is visible on the monitor so you don’t need to start painting again where you left off.

  52. Jim

    September 3, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I have watched video many times but still some steps are vague. Is this available in PDF?

  53. Gerald

    September 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    This was a super idea and really fun video!
    In compositing a new photo from 2 – 3 others, I have gotten these poor-looking edges a number of times. And I have been applying the blur tool along these poor-edges to conceal the effects.
    I redid one of these composite photos using your edge-effect technique. Wow! It’s faster to apply, help reduce “halos” when I do not wish to use an alternate blend mode, and gives better results than my old blur-edge-technique.
    Many thanks, Gerald

  54. Tana-Lee

    October 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Very cool and helpful tutorial.

  55. Amanda

    January 15, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Great Video! Thanks so much!

  56. Jim

    March 7, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Great tip, just what i needed to know. Greatly appreciate it Matt.

  57. Charles

    April 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Dear Matt:

    Shouldn’t this technique also be used to remove the fringe when selecting any area in Elements 9, 10, or 11 for isolated treatment with or without movement?

    Won’t any selection leave a fringe?


  58. Raymond

    June 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    All the videos I have looked at are outstanding, well done and very helpful.
    My only problem is that I have to go over and over again to get things done. I am 83 years old and can’t remember what I read the first time. Anyway, I like the magazines and videos very much.

  59. Carol

    June 20, 2013 at 4:05 am

    I got completely stuck half through the video too and the cheat sheet didn’t help here either. I’m using PSE 10. When trying to add my selection to the new background the clipping mask didn’t come with it and when I tried Ctrl T to use the free transform tool it just opened a new text layer. I think this part, which was the most complicated for new users like myself, was not dealt with thoroughly enough.

  60. Juanita

    July 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    WOW! I subscribed only two days ago – spent a hundred bucks and your trick of changing the opacity of the brush to remove the “halo” is worth every penny I paid! I have spent countless hours erasing halos. Thank you for this video!

  61. Mary

    August 31, 2013 at 11:47 am

    The only problem I have is, I am still using Adobe 9 and most of your tutorials are 11 and 12.

    It dosen’t apply to Adobe 9, I may have to buy Adobe 11 in the future.

  62. Janet

    November 11, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Just subscribed yesterday & this tutorial alone was worth it. I used to use the eraser tool to erase the halo around extractions & always messed up… Thanks so much for this excellent tip. Can’t wait to try it out.

  63. Jerome

    February 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    I would like to see this tutorial updated to cover the Magic Extractor option in Elements 11. The existing tutorial is now 3 years old. Time flies.

  64. Shirley

    February 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Wonderful technique that is truly easy to use. I use another technique, but this is so much better and quicker. Thanks for this tip. ;)

  65. Larissa

    May 8, 2014 at 10:39 am

    This was awesome and am excited to use it! Thanks for the video and for everyone’s comments so that I can easily use this technique!

  66. Judy

    March 23, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Thanks for a fantastic technique. I do not know how i missed seeing this video. But i am so glad i found it. I will use this often.

  67. William

    February 28, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    more on PSE14

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