Walkthrough: Black Dog, Black Background

Some of our members are creating beautiful images of dogs on black backgrounds and so I thought I’d post up some of the techniques we use here to make the process both effective and efficient.

It’s about half an hour long and takes us through the process from the original rough image through to the finished PSD and covers:

  • Prepping the file and the importance of the blacks
  • The lighting patterns used
  • The Photoshop techniques to clean it up including layers, masks, the burn tool, the pen tool, select subject, the spot healing tool and stroking along a path
  • Things to bear in mind when creating deep blacks in an image


JOIN NOW to view this and hundreds of articles, videos, critiques and discussions dedicated to the art, passion and business of portrait photography!


Camera Settings:

Focal Length: 82mm,
Aperture: f/13,
Shutter Speed: 1/180sec,
ISO: 200

Lighting Setup

The lighting for the image is a soft box (1m square) front right and a Lastolite Highlite with two strobes and some black velvet dropped down the middle to create the inky dark background and the rimlight:

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Adrian Grand
Adrian Grand(@orladrian)
1 day ago

I am very happy to find your website. Absolutely love the way you explain things. Thank you so much for taking the time to do it.

1 year ago

Really loved this video. Lots of advice only gleaned from experience. Thank you so much for sharing, Paul

1 year ago

Paul, you made this look simple enough for those of us getting started to feel like “I can do that”. Thanks for this lesson and for your dedication to helping to enthusiast elevate our game.

2 years ago

OMG that was such a great explanation and the last tip about the printing, wow, that is great. Thank you.

David Llewellyn-Jones
David Llewellyn-Jones(@d-llewellyn-jones)
2 years ago

Very useful Paul. Especially the part about creating paths. Never knew about that. Now I just have to wait for a black dog to come in. Our maybe just go and grab one from the street as I’ve been dying to photograph a black dog on a black background for ages.

2 years ago

Thank you Paul, very well explained and very useful.