Green Screen Photoshop Techniques
Green screen photography is a special effect, used in both movies and photography, where a subject is photographed against a background of a single color (usually green or blue), and that color is removed digitally, leaving your subject on a transparent layer in Adobe Photoshop. The process of removing the green screen is often called Chroma Keying. This effect can be useful for a variety of projects, such as family portraits or selling items on sites such as Craigslist or Ebay. No matter what you use this effect for, it’s sure to give your photos a professional look.
Tips for green screen photography:
Lighting is probably the most important aspect of taking photos with a green screen. Both the subject and the green screen should be well lit. An evenly lit background can save a ton of time later when removing the screen in Photoshop. You will know your green screen is evenly lit when it is all the same shade of green. Note: The ceiling lights in Creative Studio A produce a shadow on the Green Screen wall. For best results, ask staff for the video or photo lights.
The subject of the photo should be far enough from the green screen so that the screen does not reflect on the outline of the subject.
- Open the photo you intend to chroma key in Photoshop. In Photoshop, click File and then Open. Locate the photo you want and double click it.
- Using the crop tool, located on the vertical panel on the left side of the screen, crop out as much of the extra green screen as possible, careful to not remove any of your subject. To complete the cropping process, click the checkmark on the top panel. Crop tool icon
- To begin removing the background, right click on the image in the layers panel and choose Duplicate Background. In the New Layer window, click OK. Then, hide the original Background layer. Next, click Select from the Application Menu and then Color Range. The Color Range window will appear and your cursor will change to the eyedropper tool. Press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard while clicking all around the green screen. You’ll know you’ve removed all of the green screen when the preview of your image in the Color Range window shows your subject as a black silhouette and the background appears white. When you have removed all of the green, click OK. Now that the screen is selected, press Delete or Backspace on your keyboard to remove it from your photo.
- To make the edges of your subject a little smoother, click Select from the Application Menu and then Inverse. Then click Select from the Application Menu and click Select and Mask. The “Select and Mask” window will appear on the right. In the “Edge Detection” and “Global Refinements” sections, experiment with the sliders until you are happy with your image. Click “Ok.”
- Copy your image so you can paste it into your background. Press Ctrl and C on your keyboard at the same time or click Edit and then Copy.
- Next, open the background image you want to place your subject into. Do this by clicking File and then Open. Just as you did before, locate the photo you want and double click it.
- Lastly, paste your subject into the photo by pressing Ctrl and P at the same time on your keyboard or by clicking Edit and then Paste. To move your subject, either click and drag it or use the arrow keys on your keyboard. To resize your subject, click and drag any of the squares located in the corners of the box surrounding your image. When you are happy with both the size and location of your subject, press the checkmark on the top panel.
- You can use the Eraser and Blur tools, located on the vertical panel on the left side of the screen, to help blend the subject into the background as needed. Adjust the Levels, found in the Image menu, to help match the lighting of the two images.
- To save your finished image as a JPEG, first merge the layers by selected Layer and then Merge Visible. Then go to File and Save As, and save your image as a JPEG.
For visual instructions, click here for the Photoshop Green Screen Technique Handout.
For more in-depth Adobe Photoshop video tutorials and projects, check out the Library’s subscription to:
For more tips on green screen photography, see these links:
Assistance from Elmhurst Public Library staff is limited. Please use the resources above to learn more about Green Screen Photoshop Techniques.