Extending a Background in Photoshop in 3 Simple Steps

Extend Background Photoshop

How to Extend a Background in Photoshop

Have you ever taken a photo and then later, when you pull it up in Photoshop, you wished you had framed just a little bit more of the sky, grass, or background in your image?

In this tutorial I will teach you a very simple, 3 step process, to help you easily extend the background in Photoshop.

Painted Sky Overlays

In this example, I am going to extend the right of side of my original portrait image in Photoshop, so that my subject is framed a little more to the left of the photo's center than she is currently. 

By moving her over just a bit in the frame and closer to a rule of thirds vertical line hotspot, this will give the photo better better composition and create a more well balanced and engaging photo.

Photoshop Expand Image

Step 1: Add Canvas

In Photoshop, select Image>Canvas Size.

This will pull up a pop-up box where you can change the size in either direction you want, verticallly or horizontally. In my example, I want to extend the image to the right side, so I will boost my width from 75.25 to 80.  Then I will select the arrow pointing to the left, to "pull the image over" and make more room on the right.  When this is done, click OK.

You should now have an open area on the right side of your image, or whichever area you chose to extend your image.

How to Extend Picture in Photoshop

Step 2: Select the Newly Added Area

Select the Magic Wand Tool from the Photoshop toolbar on left side of your screen.  Then, click on the newly added area of your image to select it.

Content Aware Extend

Step 3: Fill the Added Area Using Content Aware

Go to Edit>Fill.  When you do this, a "Fill" Dialogue box will pop up.  Make sure the "Use" option is set to Content-Aware, then click OK.

How to Extend Background in Photoshop

Keep in mind that the Photoshop Content Aware Tool will pull background from the closest areas you are wanting to extend.  This easy technique works wonderfully when you want to extend parts of your image that have a consistent pattern or background.

You should also keep in mind that it may not work well in every situation.  For example, if I tried to extend the left side of this image, I would not have enough good background area to work with using this technique, because my subject is already so close to the left edge.

Before and After Extending the Background in Photoshop

The below images show the before and after, with a little more background on right side of the image.

Portrait Image Before Extending Background in Photoshop

Photoshop Expand Image Using Content Aware


Now going forward, if you ever feel like you were not able to capture enough background in your photo, you can use these 3 simple steps to easily extend the background in Photoshop and improve the composition of your image!

Do you have any questions or comments about How to Extend a Brackground in Photoshop?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE this tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it!)

Photoshop Actions