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How to Key Out a Color in Photoshop

Published: 11/06/2023

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While editing images in Photoshop, we often want to remove a background color or green screen entirely from the picture. You may need to remove a solid color background or replace that color to enhance the appeal. Here is an efficient way how to key out a color in Photoshop.

How to Key Out a Color in Photoshop in a Quick Way

To key out a background color in Photoshop CC, you can use the Color Range tool to select the background color you want to remove from the photo. After inverting a selection, you must create a Layer Mask for non-destructive editing. Finally, use the Hue/Saturation tool to eliminate the color cast.

Although the procedure described below is non-destructive in Photoshop, we highly recommend that you make a duplicate of an image before removing the background color from it, especially when working on a green screen. You can easily duplicate a picture by selecting Duplicate in the Image menu.

Step 1: Import the Picture

The first step to key out a color is to open your image in Photoshop. Choose images where you need to key out a particular background color.

Step 2: Choose the Color Range Tool

Go to the Select menu, and choose the Color Range option. It will open up a dialog box through which you can select the background color in the image that is to be removed. For example, a green color.

Keying out a color using the Color Range tool in Photoshop
  1. From the Select drop-down menu, choose Sampled Colors.
  2. Keep the Fuzziness level up to 40
  3. Tick the Selection option.
  4. Check the Invert option.
  5. In the selection preview, select Grayscale.

Step 3: Sample the Color

With the eyedropper or color picker, select the background color from your picture or the preview in the dialog box. You will see that the sampled background color in Photoshop turns white, which means it is selected. Ensure that the layer's transparency is locked in the Layers panel.

If any areas appear gray, it has varying levels of transparency. Gray sections will be partly visible and partly invisible. You must ensure that your image has clear white and black selections, and no part should be gray.

Sampling the color using the eyedropper tool of Color Range in Photoshop

Step 4: Add or Subtract From the Selection 

If you hold down Shift and click on the gray areas of the preview, you will notice that this action adds to the selection. The white area will appear whiter. 

If you hold the ALT key on Windows or the Opt key on Mac and then click on the areas, it will subtract from the selection. Use this option if you accidentally select the wrong color in Photoshop. 

Adjusting the Fuzziness would ensure that your subject is not selected. Once you finish the background color range selection, click OK.

Step 5: Inverse Selection

Now, inverse the selection by choosing the layer you are working on on a color in Photoshop, like green. Go to the Select menu, and click on Inverse. Alternatively, press CTRL/CMD + SHIFT + I.

Step 6: Create a Layer Mask

After inverting the selection from the Layers panel, you can simply hit delete to remove the background color, such as a green background. This would permanently remove the background color from the image, editing the color in Photoshop destructively. 

  1. Click the Create a Mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel.
  2. You can disable or delete the layer mask whenever you want. This means you have edited the image non-destructively.
Image after keying out a color in Photoshop

Step 7: Remove the Color Cast

Lastly, use Hue/Saturation to eliminate the green background color cast in images.

  1. Go to the Layers panel, then click the half-filled circle Adjustment Layer icon.
  2. Click on the Master option.
  3. Select the color range for the different color in Photoshop you need to remove.

Drag the Saturation bar to the left to decrease the saturation of the background color.

Why Do You Need to Key Out a Color Using the Color Range Feature?

In its recent versions, Photoshop CC has introduced the Color Range feature. This is immensely useful for keying out a background color or green screen.

Another significant benefit of this option is setting up a Photoshop action for a particular selection and applying it to multiple images to accelerate your workflow. Whenever you need to sample a background color, like green, and turn it into a selection on a similar image, you can quickly apply this action in color in Photoshop.

When taking pictures, the background must be a different color. Green is a common background color because most people don't wear green clothing. However, shooting against a green background can create a green color cast on the subject.


When taking pictures, the Color Range feature for selecting and removing a particular background color in Photoshop is tremendously valuable. It is a straightforward solution for working on a green screen or a solid background color, saving lots of time and effort for Photographers.


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