Photoshop Elements comes with a range of pre-designed graphics for creating all manner of home projects like greetings cards, calendars and so on. It’s all very cute, but doesn’t have much to do with more serious image-editing jobs… except that it is possible to use some of these Elements graphics in more ambitious ways.

Elements Graphics

To show how this can work I’ve started with this shot of  Victorian philanthropist Samuel Morley in Bristol – and its ugly modern backdrop. I want to get rid of that backdrop and substitute one of my own.

01 Make a selection

Elements Graphics

My first job is to select the statue itself, and for this I’ve used the Quick Selection tool. It’s quick and effective for this type of subject, though you do sometimes need to take a couple of minutes to fix up problem areas.

02 Mask your object

Elements Graphics

Now, over in the Layers palette, I double-click the background layer to promote it to a full layer. I can then click the ‘Add layer mask’ button (circled) at the top of the layers palette to convert that selection into a mask.

The background disappears, and because the statue is now on a full layer, the next step becomes much simpler.

03 Choose a graphic

Elements Graphics

Next, I click the Graphics button (circled) in the bottom right corner of the Elements window. I can now browse through the categories for a suitable-looking background. Here’s one (also circled) that looks like it might work well. All I have to do to add it to my picture is double-click it. If it’s not stored on your machine, Elements will download it from the Adobe website.