How to Create a Custom Zoom Background in Photoshop

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Zoom boomed in 2020.

Thanks to the worldwide lockdown, the video conferencing tool is now used for multifaceted communication across every aspect of our lives — from remote work conferences to family quiz nights.

But, just like the clothes we wear, shouldn’t our Zoom environment reflect the situation and mood we’re in?

Bare, white walls may have been the professional standard up until now, but all that’s about to change thanks to Zoom’s virtual backgrounds.

Pick between a range of ready-made backgrounds or craft your custom Zoom background on Photoshop and upload it straight to the app.

Not sure how to make your own Zoom custom background? Never fear!

Here’s your guide to creating and installing custom Zoom backgrounds in Photoshop.

How To Turn On Custom Zoom Background Settings

Before we can dive in, let’s take a step back and make sure you have custom Zoom backgrounds turned on.

How to turn on custom backgrounds in zoom

  1. The first step is to log into the Zoom app. If you haven’t already signed up, you can register for a free account in a few minutes.
  2. Once the Zoom app has loaded, head to the video conferencing settings. You’ll find a small cog in the top right-hand corner of the app. This will take you to all your Zoom client meeting settings.
    Zoom settings
  3. In the Zoom application, a custom background is known as a ‘Virtual Background’. In settings, click on the Virtual Background tab in the left-hand menu.
    the virtual backgrounds tab in settings
  4. The virtual background tab should load automatically.
  5. However, if you’re using incompatible software/hardware for remote work video conferencing, you may find it a little tricky. This is especially true if you have a Mac. In this case, click the ‘Enable this feature anyway’ button in the virtual background tab.
    choose virtual background selectionn
  6. The Zoom application gives you a scrolling list of free virtual backgrounds from its own archives. You can choose one of these virtual background options if you want to change your video chat background quickly.
    how to add a new virtual background
  7. Just above the default virtual backgrounds, there’s a plus button on the right hand-side. Click this plus sign to add your own custom Zoom background for your next meeting.
    "i have a green screen" checkbox
  8. If the responsive image is blurry or translucent, click ‘I have a green screen’ and hold up something green behind you during the video to give the effect of a green screen. This will help the virtual meeting software to distinguish between your silhouette and the background.
  9. Click to save your Zoom video background.

How To Create a Custom Zoom Background in Photoshop

If you’d like to create your own Zoom background, Adobe Photoshop is the premier choice as a design tool.

With an extremely comprehensive suite of drawing and editing resources, Photoshop allows you to truly harness your graphic design skills to whip up an epic custom Zoom background.

But, if you’re not much of a techy, Photoshop may seem a little daunting. Luckily, there are simple ways for you to create your own background in Photoshop without being a graphic design whiz.

Here’s how to do it.
Photoshop interface

  1. Firstly, you need to open the Photoshop app and click ‘Create new’ to make a new document.
    Creat new in Photoshop
  2. Photoshop will ask you about the specifications of your new document. It’s important that you size your virtual background image to fit your webcam and Zoom’s virtual background.
    1. The ideal size for a Zoom desktop custom background is 1920px by 1080px.
    2. The best size for a mobile Zoom background is 625 x 875 pixels
    3. Choose a transparent background
    4. Accepted files for Zoom backgrounds are JPEG, PNG, and GIF
      Photshop interface
  3. When your image first opens, it’ll be a blank canvas with one layer. It will look checkered but this is simply to show that it is transparent.
    blank canvas with transparent background in photoshop
  4. Working on Layer 1, you can add a large rectangle to cover the whole screen, serving as a colored background. Click the rectangle tool in the right toolbar.
  5. Draw a large rectangle and stretch it to cover the whole sheet. Press ctrl/command + T to change the size and shape of your rectangle.
    using layers in Photoshop
  6. To add a pattern to your custom Zoom background, add shapes from Photoshop’s library.
  7. To do this, you need to create a new layer. Layers sit on top of each other like sheets of tracing paper so you can deal with one layer of your Zoom meeting background at a time. Create a new layer in the ‘Layer’ tab in the top menu.
    using shape tools in Photoshop
  8. On your new layer, add shapes by holding down the rectangle tool symbol. This will open out to a menu of different shape tools.
  9. Pick the ‘Custom Shape Tool’
    custom shapes in Photoshop
  10. Head to the top menu to find the shapes on offer. Click on the icon next to ‘Shape:’ and choose from the dropdown menu. Look inside the folders to find all the different images.
    Placing a custom shape on a background
  11. Insert your image and resize it using the handles at the edge of the shape’s box. You can press ctrl/command + T to resize later if you need to.
    choosing colours in Photoshop
  12.  Choose the color of your shape by clicking the item and heading to the top menu. Here you’ll find choices for fill and border color, as well as line style and border weight.
    duplicating layers in Photoshop
  13. To create a repeating pattern on your Zoom virtual background, duplicate your last layer. Head to the layer menu on the right-hand side and click the previous layer. Click with the right-hand button to bring up a menu where you can ‘Duplicate Layer’.
    creating a patterned bcakground in Photoshop
  14.  Keep duplicating the layers and resizing each object to fit them into an appealing pattern to create a complete custom Zoom background.

How To Make DIY Custom Zoom Backgrounds in Photoshop

If you’re looking to up your game and create your own DIY custom Zoom app backgrounds in Photoshop, you may not want to use a preloaded image from the catalog offered by the editing software.

If that’s the case, why not use the shape tools within Photoshop to create a custom Zoom video background from scratch.

If you’re looking to improve your image-making skills, this is a great way to learn Photoshop techniques.

  1. Open a new document with the video call size specifications that suit your Zoom virtual background.
    New document to create a backrgound in Photoshop
  2. Add a large colored rectangle to give you a vibrant video meeting background to start.
    using layers in photoshop
  3. To draw on top of your background layer, you need to add a new layer by heading to the Layer tab in the top menu.
    Managing layers in Photoshop
  4. Layers can be managed and renamed in the right-hand layer menu. The higher the layers are up the menu, the nearer they are to the front of the video chat background. If you want one element to overlap another, bring the layer higher up this list.
    using shape drawing tools in Photoshop
  5. Hold the rectangle tool to access the various shape-drawing tools available in Photoshop.
  6. Change the color of the border and fill in the ‘Properties’ menu, which pops up automatically.
    duplicating layers to make complex shapes in photoshop
  7. Duplicate the layers to create more complex shapes out of the few basic shapes offered by Photoshop.
    Grouping layers together in Photoshop
  8. Once you’ve made a whole shape, select all its layers in the layer menu and group the layers together by selecting ‘Group layers’ from the right-hand menu.
  9. Duplicate layers to create the pattern effects and save your custom Zoom background as a PNG or JPEG.

How To Make a Custom Zoom Background in Photoshop with a Photo

Another popular Zoom background trend is to use your own photo or to splice together two photos. While a Photoshop tutorial might be easier to show this, here’s a straightforward walkthrough on how to create a custom Zoom background from two photos.

  1. Open your image with the correct dimensions. This example uses the specifications for mobile-ready Zoom backgrounds.
    Making custom background for Zoom in Photoshop
  2. Copy the image you would like as your meeting background and paste it into your Photoshop window. Resize the image so that it fits in the way that you would like.
    1. To resize your image to scale, click the right-hand button when resizing and click ‘scale’.
  3. Next, copy over the second image that you would like to be in the foreground of your virtual Zoom background.
    Object selection tool in Photoshop
  4. Hold down the ‘Object Selection Tool’ in the left-hand menu to see a dropdown of all the selection tools. Choose the ‘Quick Selection Tool’.
    making an object selection in Photoshop
  5. Click and hold on the parts of the image that you would like to keep. Create an overlay so that you can delete the rest of the image. If you’re finding it a little tricky, use the tools in the top left corner to alter the size of the selection brush.
    creating a selection in Photoshop
  6. Once you have a tightly-cut selection, click image with the right-hand button and click ‘Invert Selection’ in the dropdown menu. This will now select everything on this layer that isn’t the parts you want to keep.
    cutting out your selection in Photoshop
  7. Press delete and this will erase the rest of the image, leaving your selection.
  8. You can change the opacity in the top right of the layer menu or add text to your virtual background too

How To Find Custom Zoom Backgrounds

If you’re not in the mood to create your own Zoom backgrounds, why not simply upload your own picture? Why not have yourself laying in a deckchair or against a backdrop of tropical trees?

Make sure that you find a picture with high resolution that fits the Zoom account screen specifications.

How To Find Custom Zoom Backgrounds: Unsplash

Zoom background ready to use on Unsplash

(Image Source)

Unsplash is a top resource for high-quality beautiful stock photography. The website has a whole section dedicated to images that are suitable for Zoom backgrounds.

How To Find Custom Zoom Backgrounds: Canva

Zoom backgrounds available on canva

(Image Source)

If you don’t have Photoshop or you’re struggling with the complexity of the tools, Canva makes it easy to make your own Zoom background or simply download one of their stock images to upload.

Google search "free zoom backgrounds"

(Image Source)

How To Find Custom Zoom Backgrounds: Google for Inspiration

Since Zoom has become such an important tool in our everyday lives, many companies and marketing firms now offer free Zoom background templates. Just jump on Google and start searching for inspiration.

How To Choose the Right Custom Zoom Background Image

When selecting an image or your own photo for a virtual Zoom background, there are a few considerations to take into account, so that your custom background doesn’t look out of place.

Choose the Right Zoom Background Image: Size

Before choosing an image for your customer Zoom background, think about how you’ll be using the Zoom app for your next meeting.

The dimensions you need will depend on whether you take your next meeting on the Zoom desktop client, on your smartphone, or on a tablet.

  • Zoom desktop backgrounds should be 1920 px by 1080 px
  • Zoom mobile backgrounds should be 625 px by 875 px
  • Tablet sizes may vary but try a ratio of 16:9, such as 1280px by 720 px

Choose the Right Zoom Background Image: Ostentatiousness

While creating a dramatic Zoom background may show off your artistic flair, it shouldn’t overpower your facial image.

It becomes especially difficult to see people against striking backgrounds when there are lots of participants in the Zoom meeting.

Try to use more neutral images or less vivacious colors. Equally, avoid colors similar to your skin tone, otherwise you’ll blend in!

Choose the Right Zoom Background Image: Image Rights

While this won’t necessarily affect you when calling family members, if you’re using Zoom for remote work may need to consider the commercial licensing on the photos you use.

This is especially pertinent if you are doing remote work for a premium brand.


The virtual background option in the Zoom app gives you a range of choices for customizing your Zoom account.

Thankfully, with Photoshop, there are a plethora of ways for you to craft your own Zoom background. Use Photoshop to create repeating patterns with existing shapes or create your own background shapes. Alternatively, add your own photo or splice two together.

No matter your graphic design ability, the custom Zoom background feature lets everyone experiment with a personalized virtual meeting experience.

Follow these simple guides to spice up your next meeting or to have a little fun at the next virtual Zoom pub quiz with friends!

Posted by Jason Bayless