Tutorial – True Black Backdrop (Advanced Technique)

 I have had several readers ask me how I make my true black backdrops without blackening out the hairs and other small details in the photo. I did a tutorial a while  back on how to do a black backdrop (found HERE) and it was a basic and very simplistic way of achieving that effect. However when editing my professional photos, I use this more advanced technique, which only works in full version Photoshop. Please let me know if you can do this in PSE 6 or 7 – I don’t have those versions.

If you are ready to try this technique, then let’s go!!

1. Open your image. Make sure your image is flattened if you have been editing on it at all. This technique will work best when the subjects are not wearing black or a very dark color. This subject is wearing a dark sweater, and my backdrop already looks pretty dark, but I’ll show you how this works.

2. Click on “Select > Color Range” (from the menu along the top of your screen).

3. A box will pop up with a black an white version of your image. Set the fuzziness slider to about 45, and be sure that “selection” is selected at the bottom.

4. Click on the black backdrop (that looks not quite black) with the regular dropper. Then select the + dropper and sample up to 3+ black samples until the background looks to be white in the color range box. When your background looks pure white in the box, click “Ok”. Now your backdrop will have marching ants all around it.

5.At the top of your screen click on “Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Selective Color”

6. When the box pops up, you can name it “Black Backdrop”. Click “Ok”

7. Now you will see a box where you can make adjustments to color. We want to make the black we just selected into a 100% black. So, in the box where it says “Colors”, select “Blacks”, then drag the “Black” slider all the way to 100%. You could stop here, or go ahead and select “Whites” and drag the “black” slider to 100%, then select “Neutrals” and slide the slider to about 40%. You should see your backdrop turn completely black, leaving the rest of your colors alone.

8. Now, sometimes this will turn your eye lashes etc. a little TOO black, or other parts (maybe like dark jeans or whatever) black, when you don’t want that. To fix this, just Select a soft brush, change your foreground color to black, and paint over the parts of the picture that you DON’T want to be so black. It will revert it back to the original color.

9. When you are happy with your adjustments, just flatten and save! You can do the same steps to create a true white backdrop, by adjusting the white sliders in step 7. Hope this helps!~

One thought on “Tutorial – True Black Backdrop (Advanced Technique)

  1. wow that baby is soooo beautiful. you must be very lucky to photograph a baby boy with such beautiful dark eyes and a big drooling smile. (hehe)just kidding.
    it was us who was lucky to have you.
    thanks again.


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