If you would prefer not to license a background file, you can easily create your own. Fabrics, papers, and things in life that would be backgrounds make the best virtual backgrounds. These things can be photographed or scanned to make a background, depending upon the object and the desired result. The learning goals of this video are to recognize materials that make good backgrounds, learn how to photograph them, learn how to scan them, and learn which technique is best.
- [Instructor] I really like to make my own background files. Apart from anything else, this avoids any issues of copyright or IP and I don't have to pay for them that way. So one day, I decided to go for a walk in my neighborhood to make some background photos. I walked down my street and I saw this nice red truck, and here is my neighborhood. Here is a nice rock. The fact of the matter is that anything you see can be made into a background, so here are these rocks.
Here is another nice background. Now, the other approach besides using a camera is to use a scanner, and a little bit later, I'll get into the question of which is better and what are the differences, but for now, it's easy enough to go out and take a camera and shoot a background file. You should try to use a wide open aperture and to shoot it very fast, so that there is low depth of field and not much camera shape to make a good background, and also keep in mind that when you shoot a background file with your camera, you don't have to take just what comes out of the camera.
So let's say you have this open in Photoshop and you decide with that what you really want to do is to make this image a good bit yellower. You could go Layer, New Fill Layer, Solid Color, okay, and then you can put the opacity down to where you'd like it. So now, you have a layer-ish looking background.
Before you use this as a background, you'll want to merge down your layers. Layer, Flatten Image, and save it with a new file name. With your background as yellow as it appears in this image, this may be over-the-top for some applications, but on the other hand, depending on what exactly you want to do with it, sometimes you do want backgrounds that appear quite colorized. So another approach to creating a background is to use a flatbed scanner instead of a camera.
This does not have to be a great flatbed scanner, almost any scanner that you buy will work adequately for this purpose. Keep in mind that scanned images have a great deal of resolution but almost no depth of field. That means they are not very thick. You're not gonna see much depth in a scanned texture or a fabric. What you will see is something that looks very much like a flat texture or paper, because that's what a scan does.
It reproduces something in much the way that it appears originally. If you look at my simple flatbed scanner, here you can see a setup that I'm just about to start scanning this piece of textile shown on the right, and here is the image actually shown in the scanner. The scan itself was created from that. It is shown right here, and what you should keep in mind when you work with a scan of fabric or a piece of paper is that there may well be flaws in it, either from the material itself or from the scanner which if the scanner isn't really clean, it's going to produce dust on it.
So you can use Photoshop's retouching tools such as that the content aware patch tool to take care of some of those patches shown right here, take out a dot or two. You very likely, you don't want things that are too distinctive like hard black dots in backgrounds. It's even possible that you might want to blur out parts of the background a bit by adding an element of blur using a blur filter.
Once you have a background file out of a scanner, there are all kinds of possibilities about what you can do with it. Generally, when you download a background file or when you make one yourself, you're gonna find that these files are saved as high resolution JPEGs. What you want to do yourself when you scan one really is gonna depend upon what you want to do with it. Normally, you're gonna want a background file to be bigger in size than the image that you're gonna put on top of it, so if you want to keep the resolution of the image of the combined composited image, then you need to be at least comparable in resolution to what you're gonna place on it, because the weakest chain in a link is what determines the final resolution.
So often, what you want to do with a scan is make it lighter, make it darker, and save it for your library. One of the really cool things about having your own scans is that you can use them over and over and over again. Also, keep in mind that a scanned background that you make does not have to be something that's incredibly radical or bold. For example, the file that I just opened is simply a piece of drawing tissue put on the flatbed scanner, and what it will do if you place an image on it is create a little bit of nice sort of textural look to a thing without impacting greatly on an image.
I really do like to make my own backgrounds, and generally I also prefer to scan them as opposed to photograph them. The two technologies are related, of course, I mean, the camera is simply a scanner at one end with a bit of a computer inside and a lens at the other end, but there are trade-offs and while you can get some high resolution out of a camera, you're gonna get a less realistic look for your backgrounds. As with many things in Photoshop, it really all depends what you want.
You should know that these two technologies are easily available for you to make your own backgrounds and once you do that and start building up your library of backgrounds, you can really have a great time and make great images with them.
- Using blending modes, masks, and selections to build backgrounds
- Creating and sourcing backgrounds
- Creating effects with textures
- Adding textures to portraits and landscapes
- Licensing textures
- Creating texture-based effects on the iPhone