7.6.15 63

How to Edit a White Background in Photoshop

Alright, fellow bloggers—how many of you love doing product flat lays for posts and your Instagram feed?

definitely do, but squirm a little bit every time I see a post that is meant to be on a white background, but instead appears grayish. You know what I am talking about—it looks like this:

how to edit a white background in photoshop

No matter how white your backdrop is, or how much natural light you have, this is the way your image will look right out of the camera. A little bit dull and those gray edges will definitely be noticeable on the pure white backgrounds most blogs have.

Luckily, there is quick fix to this that will give you studio-level white backgrounds, with no expensive supplies. All you’ll need is a camera (even an iPhone works!), a white background (I use this $7 piece of foam core), natural light, and Photoshop. If you haven’t invested in the latter yet, I highly recommend it and with their 30-day trial, you can try before you buy.

It might look complicated at the onset, but I promise after doing this a few times, you’ll be a 5-minute Photoshop pro.

how to edit a white background in photoshop

1. Open the original image in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer. This allows you to always go back to the original image if you desire. Note: whatever you’re editing, always duplicating the background layer will save you a lot of pain. Trust me.

how to edit a white background in photoshop

2. Adjust the levels. You can bring up this panel with the shortcut Command/Control + L or accessing it via Image > Adjustment > Levels.

The whites are represented on the right hand side, the blacks on the left, and the grays in the middle. I usually move the white slider to the left to bring them up and bring the black slider to the right to bring them down. There is no science here—I choose what looks good, which is why I do this adjustment with the “Preview” button checked.

how to edit a white background in photoshop

3. Dodge your gray edges to white. This is the step where I feel like a lot of the real work happens since you can visually wipe away your grays to whites. My only words of wisdom here is with great power comes great responsibility—the dodge tool is essentially a highlighter in paint brush form that will make your image brighter. As such, it’s critical to not dodge any parts of your objects otherwise they will start to look a little unrealistic.

You can play around with different exposure levels and whether you want to adjust the range between shadows, midtones, or highlights. I’ve found setting the exposure to around 75% on the midtones range works best for my style of editing. I generally use the dodge tool around the edges and anywhere gray is super prominent. I also try to do short, sweeping motions so if I accidentally dodge anything I shouldn’t, it is easy to undo (Control/Command + Z).

how to edit a white background in photoshop

4. Adjust Selective Color. Sometimes I skip this step, but it’s an easy way to remove the last bit of remaining gray. To access this panel, select Image > Adjustments > Selective Color. By setting the selective color to “whites” and entering a negative number for blacks, it will reduce any black or gray tones found in the white areas of the image.

how to edit a white background in photoshop

5. Adjust Saturation. Sometimes with all these edits, you’ll notice your image looks a little too bright. You can easily adjust this by knocking down the saturation. Open this panel using the shortcut Command/Control + U or selecting Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation.

how to edit a white background in photoshop

Then, voilà! You have a flat lay on a beautiful white background with no gray in sight.

Leave a Comment

63 Comments

  1. Awesome tips! Thanks for sharing!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad this was helpful! xo

      Published 7.6.15
      Reply
  2. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I have been trying to figure it out for TWO freakin’ weeks. THANK YOU!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      AW YAY! I am so so glad it was helpful! xo

      Published 7.6.15
      Reply
  3. Logan Can wrote:

    I am definitely pinning this! My husband just bought me photoshop but I have not even tried to figure it out yet. It is very overwhelming. Pinning this for sure!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad you’re pinning it! Feel free to shoot me an email [katie at atouchofteal dot com] if you ever have any questions!

      Published 7.6.15
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  4. I’m a Photoshop newbie and this is super helpful info. Thanks so much!!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      AW, glad it helped! I don’t know all that much either – just what I need to get by :]

      Published 7.6.15
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  5. Tiffany wrote:

    Pinning this for future reference! I’m teaching myself the ins & outs of Illustrator right now and Photoshop is next!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful! Illustrator definitely comes in handy – I would also recommend InDesign! xo

      Published 7.6.15
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  6. Liz Mays wrote:

    I appreciate this more than you know. Thank you so much for the easy-to-follow tutorial!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful, lady! xo

      Published 7.6.15
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  7. Marina wrote:

    This is SO useful. I always fix levels and then adjust the brightness, but I never thought to do all those other things. THANK YOU! I really need to go out and buy a new white foam board now..

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      I am so glad it was helpful Marina! I need a new one too ;]

      Published 7.6.15
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  8. Aliza B wrote:

    This is something I struggle with. I have Photoshop, but I don’t know how to use all the different option. I think I need to play around with it more. Thanks for sharing! I’ve pinned this post.

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      Of course! There are a lot of good YouTube videos on Photoshop, too.

      Published 7.6.15
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  9. Lee Anne wrote:

    Love this !!!! Thanks for sharing!

    xoxo
    Lee Anne
    http://lifeinatx.com/

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      You’re welcome!

      Published 7.6.15
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  10. Debbie wrote:

    Ugh! I’m so clueless about photoshop. I need to take the time to learn, at least a little. I’m pinning this in the hopes that at some point it will make sense :-).

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      Good luck Debbie! Email me if you ever need help. xo

      Published 7.6.15
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  11. Jen wrote:

    One of my biggest pet peeves is trying so hard to take the picture with natural light only to have the final product come out gray and shade-y. Thanks so much for sharing! Definitely bookmarking this for the future.

    xo jen
    skyscrapers & palm trees

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      Me too! That happened to me for a long time until I realized I could easily fix it! xo

      Published 7.6.15
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  12. Ohhh!! Incredible tutorial! I’m sooo happy to find this! I had been looking for white background tutorial in different blogs, still, they were not very helpful. Your tutorial was easy to understand! Thanks!!!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      I am so glad it was helpful! xoxo

      Published 7.6.15
      Reply
  13. Very Erin wrote:

    Awesome tip! I’m still a little rough at photo editing, so this is awesome to know!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      Holla if you ever need help, lady! xo

      Published 7.6.15
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  14. CharloJiho wrote:

    Great post !

    Published 7.6.15
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  15. This is really helpful information! Thank you for sharing!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful, lady! xo

      Published 7.6.15
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  16. Ha, agreed I do a little squirming when I see photos that could’ve been easily fixed! Great post.

    Xx Taylor
    http://www.lightscameracatwalk.com

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      Me too! Thanks lady :]

      Published 7.6.15
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  17. Um, this is awesome! I always do the selective color thing, but I’m going to have to try it with everything else! Great post! 🙂

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful! xo

      Published 7.6.15
      Reply
  18. Christie wrote:

    Wow, what a difference! Great tips, Katie! I have one of those foam boards, too. I’m fluent in Illustrator and Lightroom but I don’t have Photoshop. Is there a similar technique that can be used in the other programs? I know Photoshop and Illustrator have some similar features.

    Christie
    The Closet by Christie

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful, C! Let me look into it and I will get back to you. I am not 100% sure since I know Illustrator is more for drawing/designing and Photoshop is more for manipulating images. I am sure improvements can definitely be made! I bet you could easily do it in Lightroom.

      Published 7.6.15
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  19. Orly wrote:

    this is great! i was actually struggling on finding the right background for my pictures an hour ago!
    i will apply this next time i find myself hating the color of the background
    xo
    orly
    coffeebeansandhighhels.com

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful! xo

      Published 7.6.15
      Reply
  20. Autumn wrote:

    This was such a helpful tutorial!! I will be sure to pin this one to use later 🙂

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful!

      Published 7.6.15
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  21. Thank you for this post! Your step by step pics really help to make it easy to understand.

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful! xo

      Published 7.6.15
      Reply
  22. This is an amazing walk-through! Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t have photoshop, but I have a similar program that I think (and hope) has all of these features. I really dislike the gray background so I’m looking forward to trying this and ending up with a white background!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful! Good luck :]

      Published 7.6.15
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  23. Thanks for the awesome tips! PINNED!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful!

      Published 7.6.15
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  24. pascha wrote:

    Completely intimidated but worth trying. Thanks for sharing!

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      Email me if you have any questions :]

      Published 7.6.15
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  25. This a great tutorial. I’ve never used Photoshop but my husband has it. I really need to give it a try. Thank you! (Support coming to you via our FB group).

    Published 7.6.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      So glad it was helpful! xo

      Published 7.6.15
      Reply
  26. Tina wrote:

    You always write such helpful posts! I usually take my flatlay photos with my iPhone and use VSCOcam to edit. I have Photoshop and rarely use it, but I’ll have to apply your tricks to my flatlay photos now!

    Tina
    http://www.justatinabit.com

    Published 7.7.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      Aw so glad it was helpful! And yeah! I use my phone sometimes too :]

      Published 7.7.15
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  27. such a helpful post! thanks so much 🙂 xx, kenz
    http://sincerelykenz.com

    Published 7.7.15
    Reply
    • Katie wrote:

      Glad it was helpful! xo

      Published 7.7.15
      Reply
  28. April G wrote:

    I’m just learning how to Photoshop and I really need this tool. I often have “grey” photos, but I try my best to make it work to my advantage instead of acting like it’s white.

    Published 7.7.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      Yeah! Good luck and email me if you have any questions.

      Published 7.7.15
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  29. Ashley L wrote:

    Gorgeous and great tip!

    Published 7.12.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      Thanks lady :]

      Published 7.14.15
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  30. Liz wrote:

    Love this!!! This is definitely the best tutorial on how to do this that I’ve ever seen. Thank you so much!

    Published 7.13.15
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    • Katie wrote:

      I am SO glad it was helpful! xo

      Published 7.14.15
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  31. spend time wrote:

    I consider something truly interesting about your site so I bookmarked .

    Published 8.20.15
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  32. Claudia wrote:

    Thanks for the advice. Any way that I could do this in illustrator? was trying to find the levels option here but didn’t see anything like it

    Published 3.7.16
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    Published 9.11.16
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