This week we learned how to extract the background from an image, and then how to use layering to insert a new background into the image. We also used the overlay tool, which changed the way our end image looked.

To extract the background from an image, you have to rasterize the image placed, and then choose the magnetic lasso tool to use to select all the way around the object/person you wish to keep in the end result. Once this is done, you press the enter key, and click on the ‘Layer’ button on the toolbar at the top of the page, and then ‘New’ and ‘Layer via copy’. After doing this, the only step left to extract the background is to make the layer with the original portrait image invisible.

Below is the original portrait image that I started with, and then next to it is the look of the image after the background had been extracted.

After extracting the background from the portrait, we then searched online for a new background image to use for our new layer, the photo I used is below.


Once choosing a new background, we then added a layer, and added the photo, before adjusting the layers arrangement to ensure the background went behind the portrait.

To begin, I went to ‘File’ and then ‘Place..’ and I chose the image I wanted to be the background and I dragged the layer down to be underneath my portrait image, and then I held the shift key and enlarged the image to cover the entirety of the blank background. After this, I right-clicked on the portrait image layer and chose ‘Blending options…’ and I lowered the full opacity and image opacity to make the edges less sharp, and to blend the background and the portrait together more. The result I got from this was:


First version of new portrait image

After completing and saving this version of my image, I then continued to experiment by using the overlay tool. The overlay tool lays the background image on top of the portrait, and you apply this by dragging the background image back above the portrait, and then change the effect from ‘Normal’ to ‘Overlay’, to then get the version of my image below:

Overlay version of new portrait image

Overall I found this task relatively simple and easy to carry out, and I was very pleased with the development achieved from the original portrait image to my own version’s of the portrait image.



  1. Photo ideas (2013) Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/lillianreid/photo-ideas/ (Accessed: 7 November 2016).
  2. Backgrounds (no date) Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/backgrounds/ (Accessed: 7 November 2016).