What is a good technique to make a realistic gray backdrop in Photoshop?

Lets say I have a cut out subject on its own layer, photographed with 2 umbrellas, 1 stronger from the left, and a softer fill light from the right. I would like to place this subject on a gray backdrop as if it was shot in studio. It has to look realistic tough, so not a matte gray background, nor a simple gradient. It has to contain shadows, noise, light fall-off and all it needs to make it look as realistic as possible.



As an example (not mine): how to get from this: http://www.officialpsds.com/images/thumbs/ROSE-DRESS-psd73460.png to this: http://onlyfreewallpaper.com/view/rose-dress-girl-1920x1440.html

lets pretend the background in the second image is not the orignal one but created in Photoshop.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you add a source / sample image so that we can see what you're working with? It might help us to produce some examples. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2015 at 9:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its not about a specific image, it something that happened quite often so I asked in order to have an answer when i need it next time. Basically any model illuminated with two softboxes or umbrellas would be ok. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2015 at 9:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Without some concrete examples I think this question may get closed for being too broad. The main key to answering this will be in getting a realistic/natural masking technique and what's most appropriate depends heavily on the background that you want to remove... \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2015 at 11:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ added a sample picture found on the web to show what i mean. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2015 at 11:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe you could find a blank image of the background on the Internet and juxtapose the model into it? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 25, 2015 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


To create the background, play with filters like Render>Clouds, Blur>Gausian blur and the brush tool. You could overlay it with a gradient to add depth. Try different blending modes for the gradient layer.

When you are happy with how the background looks, create shadows with the brush tool. Consider creating multiple layers for differently sized shadows: large and blurred shadows, medium shadows, detailed shadows. This will give you more control.

When painting the shadows, think about which the direction the light should be coming from, based on the original illumination.

Don't forget to also paint shadows on the subject. If they were standing on a white floor, some of the light might be visibly reflected on them and this will look unnatural when placed on a gray background.

I think it is possible to achieve a fairly realistic picture this way.


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