Digital Background (a.k.a. digital backdrops) portraiture has become very popular in the last few years. This is becoming evident by the increasing number of websites selling digital backgrounds on cd. It’s no secret that I use digital backgrounds myself for much of my studio work. I have learned some great tips from trial and error on using digital backgrounds. Here are my top 5 tips on using digital backgrounds.
1. Shoot subject in front of a white background.
You are just making it harder for yourself if you shoot the subject in front of a busy background with the intention of extracting them. Do yourself a big favor and save yourself from headaches by shooting them in front of a solid color. A very common misconception is that you must use chromo key screens (blue or green) to get a good extraction. This is totally false. It may be true for video but not digital portraits.
2. Properly lighting the background.
You can use a cheap little slave flash to light the background for you, which makes extractions a whole lot easier. I bought mine at Ritz camera for $30 and it is worth every penny.
3. A Good extraction is a must!
This is pretty obvious actually. You definitely don’t want your portraits looking fake. To perform extractions, most people generally use the extraction tool in Photoshop. I use to do the same until I mastered Photoshop’s eraser tools. I get far more consistent results using the erasers than the extraction tool and you will too with a little know how.
4. Properly blend your subject with your background.
Chose the color of your background that best compliments your subjects clothes. Often, colors of the same family work best. Dark with darks, lights with lights, reds with reds, and so on. This is often overlooked by beginners but has a very dramatic effect on the end result. Once digital backgrounds are loaded into Photoshop, their colors can easily be changed.
5. Vignetting can make all the difference.
Ever notice in many portraits that dark quasi-circular area around the subject? That is a vignette which is designed to draw the viewer’s attention to the center where the subject is. Many people instantly will use the burn tool for this purpose. This can be quite limiting. A far easier and faster tool in Photoshop is the gradient tool, especially when it’s on its own layer which gives you far more freedom than the burn tool.
There you have it. Following these suggestions I have given you will greatly improve your digital background portraiture.
About the Author:
Fabian Barajas is author of several Photoshop ebook tutorials and videos including "How to Create Your Very Own Professional Looking Digital Backdrop!" and " Photoshop Magic For Newbies" His websites which include samples of his work are http://www.digital-background.net