How To Use A Chroma Key Background: Lighting, Setup, & Post-Production Techniques

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Green Screens

superwoman on green screen

Green screen (or chroma key backgrounds) are commonly used in the film and photographic industry to separate subjects from a background. The subjects are then placed on another digital background in post production. There are two common colors of chroma key backdrops: blue and green.

Light the chroma key background with two photographic lights placed approximately five feet away at a 45 degree angle. An evenly lit photo backdrop will make it easier to extract the subject post production. If needed, use a soft flash to remove any unwanted shadows.

Prevent the chroma key background from bleeding over by setting the subject between four and five feet away from the backdrop. Keep the subject lit with soft lighting that is bounced off of a studio umbrella, wall or white board. Back lighting the subject may also be necessary to help prevent the chroma key background from bleeding over the subject.

104505413 When shooting the photo, try to zoom in on the subject as much as possible. This will help create more definite lines on the subject and make it easier to cut the subject away from the chroma key background in post production.

After the photo has been taken you are ready for post production. Use the “Extract” feature in Photoshop. To do so, open up the image and duplicate it by pressing “Ctrl” and “J”. To extract the image click on “Filter” then clicks on “Extract.” When the new window opens up, select a brush size that is large enough to cover the edges of the subject. Then click on “Smart Highlighting.” Use the highlighting tool to paint the edges around the subject. If necessary, enlarge the photo by clicking on “Ctrl” and “+.”

GSW_104505413 Next use the “Fill Tool” to fill in the highlighted areas and click “OK.” Open up a new background and use the “Move Tool” to drag your highlighted subject over to the new digital background. Once the subject is in place, select “Flatten Image” on your “Layers Menu” and you are done!

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

Do you want to learn more about green screen photography? Read Five Reasons Why You Need a Chroma Key Backdrop!

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Comments (7)

  • artandcraftsters


    Sweet Lucky


  • John M. Hoyt


    Thanks for the information. Followed you over from a FB post. I’ve been trying my hand at this using a chromakey green backdrop, but I just haven’t mastered it to keep from getting spill =)


  • Jim Oas




  • David Fleet photography


    Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your weblog. You have some really good articles and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested. Thank you!


    • Backdrop Express Photography Team


      Hi David,
      We may be interested in working together! Please send an email to with more information on what you’d be willing to write about. Thanks!


  • J.J.


    Is “extract” a new feature in Photoshop? I’m using CS5 and don’t see it.


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