Photoshop tutorial: Cut and paste cool background textures

Take cut-and-paste further by compositing elements onto textured, colour backgrounds. Brian Grant shows you how on a piece of his fantastic work.


Image backgrounds in digital art can be more than simply act as incidental scenery to a piece of work. Rather, with good planning and some honed colour skills, it’s possible for backgrounds to frame an image in an incredible variety of ways.

For this tutorial, leading designer and artist Brian Grant shows us how he has created one of his latest pieces, and in the process using the background to transform a basic image of a model to create a futuristic work of art.

The key to this is to successfully manage a great image extraction of the foreground object, then use the gradient tool to transform a background.


Step 1 The image that we start with is Rachel, a model from a recent fashion show. To start, convert the image from RGB to CMYK by choosing Image > Mode > CMYK.


Step 2 Choose Filter > Extract, and choose 100 as your brush size. Draw around the model, and then fill it, then click OK. Everything that is not filled in will be deleted. If your hand is not that steady you can hold down Shift and click to create the outlines more easily.


Step 3

Now to clean up the image. Add a layer mask by clicking on the rectangle with the circle inside it located at the bottom of the layers panel and, using the Pen tool, do a detailed cut out of the model. For the softer areas such as her hair, I use the Eraser Brush. I start with it on 17 pixels, but vary it for smaller and larger hairs. The hair at this stage does not have to be perfect. They will be adjusted once the background texture is added. Do not try to be perfect – just get into a rhythm and things will seem to flow.


Step 4

Finally, this is the model cut out with coloured background. The cut out is placed on a different coloured background to show that the image is cut out properly. Test on different colours because sometimes cut outs look better on light colours than dark colours.


Step 5 Now we will create a background for the model to stand on. For the background of the main image, create a radial gradient from the colours of C: 13 M: 9 Y: 11 K: 0 at one side and C: 45 M: 27 Y: 17 K: 0. The image will have a blue tint, so all of the future layers of colours will need to reflect this.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags graphics softwarephotoshop

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Brian Grant

Digital Arts Magazine
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Xiro Drone Xplorer V -3 Axis Gimbal & 1080p Full HD 14MP Camera

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >


Learn more >

Family Friendly

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on Good Gear Guide

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?