How to Clean Paper Backgrounds in Photoshop

Paper rolls are a common background choice for portrait photography, but they can often look rippled or uneven. To help you overcome this, Karl demonstrates how to quickly and easily remove wrinkles from your background using some basic Photoshop tools.

To start, you’ll learn how to select the subject using two different methods. Karl then shows how you can remove these wrinkles using one very simple tools. You’ll also learn how to remove banding in a background and how to adjust the contrast too.

This class covers the following:

  • How to smooth paper in Photoshop
  • How to cut out the subject in Photoshop
  • How to separate the subject from the background
  • Using selection tools in Photoshop
  • How to remove banding from an image

To see how this image was shot, please watch our ‘Male business portrait’ class.

Additional Photoshop classes you may find useful include:

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.


  1. Hi Karl,

    when viewing a photo in lightroom, there is no noticable banding, but after going to photoshop (Edit in photoshop) banding appears.

    taking into consideration that color space in lightroom is profoto RGB, in photoshop it is converted to Adobe RGB, and the color depth is 16 bit. in lightroom it is a nikon NEF file in photoshop it is opened as a TIFF file.

    thanks in advance.

      1. Well lightroom was always on profoto by default.
        I switched Photoshop to adobe RGB following your advise in the beginners course of photoshop.

  2. Hi Karl,
    Few questions:
    – do you ever use Select Subject? Wouldn’t it be easier and faster to do it in this example?
    – Would surface blur do the similar for the removal of ripples in the paper backdrop?
    – Have you noticed that often the banding in PS disappears when you create a new layer and stamp visible? It seems it’s a PS bug or a way to render the layers faster.
    Big thanks!

    1. Hi Wasio,
      1. Yes but usually I find this way quicker as you still have to draw a box or a line around the subject even for select subject.
      2. All the blur’s have a different methodology even motion blur in the right direction can work so use whichever you test and prefer.
      3. Even when you merge the banded background layer (or a B&D) layer banding reduces, this isn’t a bug it’s simply the calculations of luminosity are not fully accounted until the layer is merged down. But there will still be some banding so you are better to add noise to the layer before merging down otherwise you need to make a new selection to add noise to the merged layer.

  3. Hi Karl. Is there anything that can be done with patterns in the jacket which have appeared, thanks, Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew, there aren’t any patterns in the jacket in the actual image file, what you are probably seeing is it in the video as the video of the image has introduced it’s own moiré. However you are correct and moiré is still possible on the actual image if the interference pattern from the jacket and the sensor synchronise, then you end up with something that looks like ‘newtons rings’ that we use to see on slides held in glass mounts. In certain software like capture one or Phocus they have very good de-moiré software, otherwise the best way in photoshop is to remove all the colour from the affected area by desaturating that zone, then B&D any tonal differences so there are no zebra stripes left when looking at the image desaturated. Then apply the colour back again using a brush tool and colour blend mode.

      1. Hi Karl. Thank you very much for the detailed explanation, really appreciated. I have come across the problem before with shirts – problem was that they were thinly striped and to D&B was impossible. I have now asked customers to avoid stripes if at all possible when doing headshots !! Have a big project this week – commercial bus washing machine. Plan to shoot it in the dark with coloured gels to get some energy and dynamism into the shots. Will be swotting up on your tutorials before I set off. Cheers.

    1. Hi Frank, with new paper rolls there isn’t as many ripples, even with the light parallel to the paper some of the light is going up and some is going down so ripples will show up. Tim Flach has a good technique of using two background lights, one pointing down and one pointing up which apparently cancels some of the ripples out but as I mention in the video I use a flat mobile wall or my cove whenever possible.

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