The Basics of Adobe Photoshop – Layers – Changing a background

Here we are going to discuss about the very basic of adobe Photoshop, and I am going to tell you the useful things we can do with each of the options available. First we are going to study the layers. These are all very basic, so I hope you will learn from here.

To start, let us open a file. Any file that has a background you wish to remove. To open a file, click file>open.  You can click the image below to view larger picture.

A new window will open, find the picture you wanted to edit from your computer.


For now I will edit Yoon Eun Hye. I will remove the background, and will change it to a different one, just like a great celebrity wallpaper. Once you have chosen a picture, click open, then it will be opened in adobe Photoshop. Make sure to view the layers property of the picture on the very lower right side of the adobe screen.


Alright, as you can see we only have one layer. To understand layer, you can have papers as samples. One paper placed on the ground is one layer, add another paper over the first paper, that is the second layer. If you cut some parts of the second layer, it will have a hole which you can see some parts of the first paper you placed on the ground. That is how these layers in adobe Photoshop would work.

Now, let us find another picture that we will use as a background for Yoon Eun Hye. Same process goes, click file>open>find the picture from your computer. Here is mine:

Notice the second picture is placed on a different window, and has his own layer properties again. You can drag the header of each picture from their windows so that you can join them. We will combine two pictures to one window so that they will have the same layer property. Here is how:

Drag the second window picture like this:

It will shorter the second window and you will see the first picture behind it. Now click the “Move Tool” on the left part. Then drag the second picture to the first one. It will combine. And it will make the second picture as Layer 1.

You can then simply close the second window/picture. And we will now work with the first picture of Yoon Eun Hye together with the background we wanted.

Check out the layer properties. There are two layers already, the one on top should be taken to the bottom of the layer properties. But the background layer is considered as fixed and default, in order for us to reorder the layers, we need to duplicate the background layer. So here is how it goes, right click on the background layer>then click “duplicate layer”.

A new window will open, you can rename it if you want.

Now the layer properties should have three pictures, but we need to make sure that the subject is at the top. Simply drag the background copy layer to the top then. Like this:

Alright we should be ready for the next round. Now that Yoon Eun Hye is at the top, what we can see on the window is the main subject. But we need to remove the background of our subject this time. What we need to do is to use something that can cut the background. There are a lot of ways, but the easiest one I think are the two > The quick selection tool (you can press W on your keyboard), or the pen tool (press P). But for pen tool, it wont exactly take the right angle or shape of the subject, so this time I will be using quick selection tool. To do this, simply press “W” on your keyboard, or click the button quick selection tool.

Once you’ve got it selected, you can start selecting Yoon Eun Hye only. But please remember these two things to press on your keyboard. Press “Alt” when you do not wish to select an area – you will see a negative sign on the circle of quick selection tool, do not press “alt” and drag the area you wanted to be selected – a positive sign will appear.

Note: To decrease the size of the brush you are using like quick selection tool, press the button beside “P” on your keyboard. The buttons should be – [ and ]. Press button ] for increasing the size of the brush, then [ for decreasing it. Now you’re learning some shortcuts.

Here is what I did: 

Notice the button “refine edge” above after selecting the subject? That is a great tool, and we will start the fun part of editing the picture. Click the “refine edge” button after selecting the desired area for the subject. Since there are some hair, that is difficult to select, we will refine the edges a little bit to make it look better. After clicking the refine edge button, a new window will pop up. Experiment on this!

The smart radius you will see on the pop up window is really good, you can use it to remove or add some areas on the subject that is selected. While the pop up is open, you can add or reduce the areas you don’t like on the picture just by using the quick selection tool brush. Here is my setting:

Don’t worry, you can always click on each picture to enlarge them!

Oh speaking of enlarge, you can zoom in or out a picture by pressing and holding the “ctrl” button on your keyboard, and then press – or + beside the backspace button on your keyboard. This will easily zoom the picture you are working with.

Once everything is done with the image, you are happy, click OK, then you will see the layers are updated, and now has a layer mask.

But if there are some dirt in the image, you can just erase that by using the erase tool. Clean the image until you are satisfied. To use the erase tool, click

Or simply press “E” on your keyboard.

Clean all the dirt until you are satisfied. Then you can start adding further enhancement you desire. Here is my final result:

If you have questions, please feel free to comment or contact me.

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Hi, I am a children's book illustrator and CG artist for 6 years already. I will create cute and fun illustrations and 3D assets you need!

I am full-time working online. My breaks: half day every Saturday, and whole day for Sundays.


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