How to Add a Custom Background to Your Drawings in Photoshop

This is a new marker drawing that I made today. Most of my artwork is usually feminine in nature so I wanted to channel in some masculine energy. I also promised to type up a tutorial so here goes!

Here’s a simple technique that I like to use for my drawings. Beginners new to Photoshop can follow along 🙂

I am using Adobe Photoshop 2015 by the way and the key commands I use are for Mac. Control key is the equivalent of the Command key on a PC.

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1. I scan the drawing at 300dpi and it gives me this large TIFF file. You can take a pic with your phone, email it to yourself and download it from there but I find that the resolution isn’t high enough. I could be wrong though, feel free to try it.

2. My scanner software (Image Capture) is kinda janky so when it scans, it gives me a washed out scan. To fix this, I usually hit Command Shift L or Auto Levels in Photoshop. Or I adjust the Levels and Curves until I’m happy with it. In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015, it’s now called Auto Tone in the Image menu.

3. I want to add a cosmic background to the blacked out area of the drawing. It would be good to find a background that’s about the same size of your scanned image. In your layers panel, double click to turn your locked background image to a layer so that it can be edited. It’s going to become Layer 0.

4. Hit W on your keyboard to select the Quick Selection Wand tool, third tool on your toolbar.

5. With your Layer 0 still selected, on your image click the area you want to select and see how much it covers. You will see a selection (some people call it marching ants). If you need to select more additional areas, hold down the Shift key and click another area. The more solid the area is, the better your selection will come out.

6. Now that you have a selection, hit Command Shift I or go to Select menu > Inverse. This changes your selection. You won’t see it until you put a mask on it.

7. With your selection still active and your layer 0 still selected, at the bottom of your layers panel, click the Add Layer Mask tool, third one from the left. This masks or hides the area that you selected.

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8. Now you can bring in your cosmic background by dragging the file right into your Photoshop document from wherever it’s located. It will place the file right smack in the front so once you’ve adjusted it to your liking (size and position), hit enter or return; now you can move that cosmic background layer to the bottom of your layer stack.

9. Make sure to hit Command S to save your work! Save often if you’re doing a lot of edits.

10. I like to play with the blending modes in the Layers panel, the tab that says Normal but has a dropdown menu. I added another layer and played with gradients and changed the blending modes on there too.

Endless fun!

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If you want to practice with the files I used, you can download them here.

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