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How to Change Background Size in Photoshop

Published: 16/06/2021

In Photoshop, the background or the canvas on which your image rests can easily be resized. The need to change its size may arise when you need space to incorporate more elements or decrease or increase the background for framing. Discover how to change background size in Photoshop for added functionality in your workflow.

How to Change Background Size in Photoshop

There are multiple methods that you can use to change the size of your canvas or background. You can either increase it to add other elements, center an image, or simply extend the background contents. Or, you can decrease it to get rid of extra edges with useless or no information. 

Make sure you are clear about whether you want to change the canvas size or the image size. Both of them are entirely different, as the canvas size alteration is nondestructive, whereas the image size adjustments can cause the image to shrink or get pixelated.

Here, we will describe in detail how you can reform the size of the canvas using features and tools that will not affect the image quality. You will also learn how to fill the extended canvas with any color or Content-Aware fill. Let’s move on to the basics of background size alterations using Adobe Photoshop CC.

Unlock the Background Layer 

When it comes to changing the size of your background, the initial step you need to take is to convert your background layer into a normal layer by unlocking it. Any of the methods you choose from below can be used after the background is unlocked.

To unlock the background layer, click on the padlock icon beside the layer. 

Canvas Size Command

To begin this process, load your image into Photoshop. To display some space around the image, if you want to increase the background size, it is recommended to zoom out by pressing CTRL + or CMD +.

The primary feature for the size modification of your background is the Canvas Size feature. To launch the Canvas size window, go to the Image menu and click on Canvas size. Alternatively, you can go the keyboard shortcut way and open the Canvas Size window by pressing CTRL + ALT + C on Windows or CMD + OPTION + C on Mac.

Photoshop Canvas Size Window

Current Canvas Size

In the Canvas Size dialog, the first section tells you the current size of your canvas, using pixels as the measuring unit and stating values for width and height. 

New Canvas Size

Below the current size, you have the option to input the required size of your background in width and height. You can choose any other measuring units besides Pixels like inches, millimeter, centimeter, points, or picas.

The measuring unit highly depends on how you want to use your image. If it is for web and social media posting, use pixels. Or, if it is for printing purposes, use inches or centimeters.

Type in the pixels for width and height (for instance, 900 width and 600 height) depending upon where do you want to use it. You can also select Percent from the drop-down menu and select a set percentage that you want to decrease or increase. 

Anchor

In the same canvas size dialog, you will see a visual asking you to opt for your anchor. It tells us how to position your extended background.

This is a very useful feature as you don’t always need to extend or compress your background from all sides. Depending upon the edge that needs to change, you can opt for an anchor in any of the nine points. 

For instance, if you want to extend the background from the left. All you need to do is set the anchor to the middle right point on the right-hand side.

Canvas Extension Color

When you are changing the background size and increasing its sides, it is essential to decide what color to fill it with. Remember that if your image is without a background, the pixels on the canvas extension will remain transparent. 

Changing the Canvas Extension Color

To fill the transparent canvas edges, you can select the image inside using the marquee tool, inverse the selection, and fill it using the Paint Bucket, Gradient, or Content Aware tool.

If you placed an image on a white background, you would be able to select options from the drop down menu in the Canvas Dialog. Depending upon how you wish to use the extra work area, you can choose any custom color as well. Remember that in case of decreasing the background size, the image will get cropped.

Relative Option

The next method of changing the canvas size is also present in the Canvas Command, but it is used for the specific purpose of evenly dividing the extended background into all four sides.

Under the Width and Height value boxes, you can see the checkbox for Relative. Using it will apply relative values for the new size.

The relative option is best used when you are using percentage. For example, to increase the size, input a positive value (for instance, 20%), and to decrease the size, input a negative value (for example -20%).

Changing the Canvas Size using the Relative Option feature

Trim Tool

When your image is smaller than the canvas size, you can use the Trim command to get rid of the areas with no information. The tool works like a real trimming tool where the removal of unwanted or useless pixels is entirely safe. 

  1. Go to the Image menu, and select Trim from the drop down menu. 
  2. When a popup for trim appears, choose the Based On option as Transparent Pixels.
  3. Hit OK.
  4. This action will trim the extra part of the image.

Crop Tool

Here is another method to alter background size in Photoshop. We will be using the crop tool for this method.

  1. Open the image in Photoshop or load it by drag and drop it from the destination folder.
  2. Copy the background layer by selecting the layer in the panel, drag it to the bottom of the Layers panel, and release the cursor on the Create a New Layer icon.
  3. Select the Crop tool from the toolbar on the left, or press C on your keyboard to activate it.
  4. When you select the crop tool, you will notice that the transforming outlines are shown around the edges of the image. 
  5. Drag the outlines to the required size and increase the canvas size accordingly.
  6. To decrease the canvas size, drag the outline to the inner side.
  7. Press on the check icon in the options bar at the top. This will confirm the cropping procedure. You can also press the enter key on Windows or return key on Mac.

Reveal All

When your image is larger than the canvas size, using the Reveal All command will change the canvas size and make it big enough to accommodate all the details within it. In other words, your canvas becomes big enough to reveal a large image. 

  1. Open Photoshop, and go to File > New.
  2. Select a template size (Photoshop default size of 7x5 inches), and click on Create.
  3. Drag and drop your image (with big dimensions) on this new document.
  4. You will notice that only a part of your image is visible. This shows that it is exceeding beyond the canvas size.
  5. Go to the Image menu, and select Reveal All from the drop down.
  6. The size of the canvas will be extended to reveal the rest of the image.

Fit Image Automatically to Canvas Size

Here are a few tips which you can apply if you don’t want to go into the hassle of changing background size every time you are working in Photoshop. These options allow non-destructive editing and ensure no loss of image quality no matter how many times you scale it.

  • Drag and drop the image directly from the Explorer/Finder window into the Photoshop document. It will copy the picture as a Smart object so that resizing doesn’t lose any pixels and the quality is maintained.
  • Go to Edit/ Photoshop > Preferences > General. Check Always Resize During Place, and Always Create a Smart Object on Placing.
Selecting Sizing Preference in Photoshop

Conclusion

We hope that our guide will help you learn the techniques of background resizing quickly and effectively. Following any of the above methods will give you extra canvas space while increasing and a reduced image and canvas size while decreasing. 

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