I work at a small town photo studio as a photographer and my boss recently came up to me to ask for advice on a decision he needs to make regarding the portrait picture service we offer. Basically, right now we only have a bunch of single color paper backgrounds that we can roll out and the client can choose his preferred one. My Boss however wants to expand to textured backgrounds like for example brick wall, wood, marble etc.

He wondered whether we should set up a green screen where we replace the background with a nice texture in editing or if it would be simpler to just add a couple textured wallpapers to the set of backgrounds already installed and save ourselves the editing hassle. As someone who has experience with VFX in film making, setting up a greenscreen with proper lightning to take portrait pictures should be a fairly simple task to accomplish so I recommended we go with that option.

The problem I have is that the Boss also wants to take pictures in a pose where the camera is at an angle to the greenscreen and the subject is leaned against it. the greenscreen would then be replaced with a brick wall. Here's a stock photo to visualize:


Is this photo doable with a greenscreen? Problems that come to mind would be the green reflection on the subject, a shadow that could make masking harder, the background texture being at a wrong angle making the whole composite look fake. Still I feel like there might be some nifty trick or method that makes this possible. If not with a greenscreen, what other options do I have?


2 Answers 2


With Photoshop

From the original photo

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Mask the model:

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Duplicate the green channel:

enter image description here

Invert it to obtain the shadows channel:

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Insert the background in another layer:


Put the masked model layer on top:

model layer

Add a new fill layer with the shadow mask and the desired shadow color:

enter image description here

From the menu Image > Adjustments > Replace color > change the green color in the model highlights:


Adjust the Levels in the shadow's mask if necessary and/or change the blending mode to Multiply:


Try different backgrounds keeping the same shadows layer:

enter image description here

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I just tested my greenscreen software on that, using the original pic & a bit of your background. It did cope well with the shadows, but struggled a bit otherwise because of the 'green' being a bit far out from expectation - if it's a long way out it tends to affect the subject, needing an extra masking pass which I didn't bother with. This is almost at defaults - i.sstatic.net/jY5n0.jpg I was surprised how well it managed the shadows. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 7:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The step-by-step I describe in the answer is the basic and elementary to extract the shade from a green chroma, then there are the adjustments applicable to each photo: levels, curves, brightness and contrast, blending modes, etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Danielillo
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 9:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ For sure, I was just comparing to made-for-purpose greenscreen software, which managed to grab the shadow better than I'd expected. I never shoot so close to greenscreen normally, so had never tested it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 18:00

I'd be seriously considering whether you need greenscreen any more.
Even the freebie version of Adobe's Express Remove Background* can do this [with zero refinement, I'm sure it can do better with some effort, &/or a cleaner, larger photo.]

enter image description here

Even the new iOS & macOS can do this just by dragging the subject [can't test how well, my hardware is too old.]
All done by AI, no colour spill correction required.

I'd definitely do some tests before comitting.

Having said all that - it's not a structure I've ever used in a real workflow - I do still have my greenscreen setup & software that can kill most of the spill/reflection. I've never challenged it with leaning against the screen, but I do know if you're a bit shadowy it needs some help with feet standing on it, on occasions.

*Requires sign-up but no further commitment as far as I can tell.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You seem to have completely lost the subject's shadow, which will be needed when compositing with the new background. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 17:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TobySpeight - Yup, I just threw it into an auto AI at defaults… as mentioned. Rescuing shadow from a non-plain background would be a nightmare by any method. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 17:58

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