Frequent Questions for the Backdrop Designer plugin

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I can't see the cursor when I use your plugin.

  • Q.   I can't see the cursor when I use your plugin. Why is that?
  • A.  There is a known issue with Backdrop Designer and Wacom tablets. When using the plugin with a Wacom tablet the cursor turns into a small circle which can be difficult to see. This is a conflict we have with the Wacom driver and we have not been able to resolve it. Unplugging the Wacom tablet and using a mouse should fix the problem. We realize this is not a good solution. This has been a frustrating bug on our end and we continue to look for a solution. Read more

Use Texture Anarchy presets with Backdrop Designer

  • Q.   How can I use Texture Anarchy with Backdrop Designer? The manual says this is possible.
  • A.  It is quite easy for Backdrop Designer to use Texture Anarchy textures. Here are the quick steps: 1. In the Texture Anarchy interface, click the (+) button to save a new preset. Before you save the preset, create a New Category. That category will become its own preset file that you can transfer on your hard drive. You can save as many presets as you want to this Category.
      2. Go to this location on your hard drive: C:/ Program Files/ Adobe/ Photoshop/ Plug-ins/ Digital Anarchy/ Texture Anarchy/ Presets/ Texture Anarchy Explorer. Inside are a bunch of .prs files. Select and copy the one with your Category name. In my example, it's called 'debbie'.

    3. Now go to a similar location on your hard drive: C:/ Program Files/ Adobe/ Photoshop/ Plug-ins/ Digital Anarchy/ Backdrop Designer/ Presets/ Texture Anarchy Explorer. Paste your .prs file in there.

    4. Open up Backdrop Designer, and click the Texture palette's Load button. You will see a new Category created from your preset file.

    5. If you wanted to add a Texture Anarchy preset to the Shadow palette instead, just place the .prs file in the Backdrop/ Presets/ Shadows folder.

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My digital backdrop looks different than the preset I picked

  • Q.   When I load the "Old Masters" texture that I want and click the check button, here is what I get. I am not getting the texture at all that I picked. The shadow coloration seems 'off'.
  • A. 

    It sounds like you are saying that when you load in a preset, there is a different coloration than expected. Most likely, the Opacity, Brightness or Contrast sliders need to be reset within the Shadow Window. Click the Shadow's Edit button to see these sliders.

    Here is why: When Backdrop Designer loads in a preset, it loads in the texture and shadow that make up that preset. However, it doesn't reset the Shadow or Texture Windows' slider settings if they have been moved from a 0 value. If the Contrast slider is anything but 100%, for instance, your image's coloration will look lighter. If Opacity is set to a low value from the last time that you used the Backdrop Designer plugin, this would also make the shadow look very light.


    A similar issue can happen with the Texture Window's sliders. Sometimes the Brightness, Hue and Saturation sliders need to be reset. Click the Texture's Edit to see these sliders.

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Why do lines appear across my images?

  • Q.   I have downloaded the trial version of your product. However, there seems to be lines going across my images when I use the product. Is this normal or will it go away if I buy the software?
  • A.  The crosshatch lines that appear are the demo watermark. This allows you to evaluate the product before purchasing. When you purchase the product, you get a serial number will unlock the crosshatch watermark.

How do I uninstall the Backdrop Designer demo?

  • Q.   I have tried the Photoshop demo for Mac but do not plan to purchase now. How do I uninstall the Backdrop Designer demo?
  • A.  Removing the plugin demo is very easy. On your drive, go to this location: Hard Drive/Applications/Adobe Photoshop/Plug-ins/Digital Anarchy/Backdrop Designer. Put the Backdrop Designer folder in your Trash.he crosshatch watermark.

What are 'presets'?

  • Q.   What are 'presets' and why do you call them by different names? Why are there multiple areas to load them?
  • A.  Presets are graphics that we have already created for you, and ship with Backdrop Designer. You can load in abstract or organic looking patterns called Texture presets. Then combine these with Shadow presets, which create the appearance of cast shadows, lighting, or material folds in the Texture. We also ship Combination presets, which are pairings of a Texture and Shadow.

Can I import and use my own image?

  • Q.   Can I load my own Photoshop graphic into Backdrop Designer to use as a Texture? For instance, I have a photograph of velvet drapes that I want to use.
  • A. 

    No, you cannot import in a graphic to use as your Texture. This is because the digital backdrops created by Backdrop Designer are all algorithm based.

    The reason you can't import images is exactly why Backdrop Designer is so powerful. These textures are created with mathematical formulas. You can't import a pixel-based graphic and turn it into a mathematical formula. Because the digital backdrop is mathematically generated, its preview builds very fast. The digital backdrop is not pixel-based until it has been applied to your Photoshop file, which is why you can't load in a pixel-based image.

    The exception is a function called the Bend Editor. This palette allows you to import a grayscale photo for use as the Shadow in your composite.

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Where are the templates?

  • Q.   I am looking for a program that provides me with many templates that I could for my Photography business. Does Backdrop Designer have templates?
  • A. 

    Backdrop Designer uses 'presets' rather than 'templates'. They are similar – or the same – depending upon how you look at things.

    ‘Presets’ are pre-made textures. They are not pre-rendered images that you open as individual files. Instead, they are textures that you preview, combine, change the properties of, and then render out into a file.

    If you were to use Backdrop Designer to create 'templates' in the traditional sense, here is what you'd do. You would choose the presets that you like, customize them, and render them out individually into Photoshop files. Then save those Photoshop files for later use. You can watch free tutorials that explain Backdrop Designer presets.

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How high a resolution can I use?

  • Q.   How high of a resolution file can you save/generate in Backdrop Designer? I need to work in at least 300ppi.
  • A. 

    The resolution of Backdrop Designer is unlimited. It is simply tied into the specs of your Photoshop file. This is because Backdrop Designer mathematically generates the textures. Once the texture is rendered, it simply pixels of your file.

    For instance, if your Photoshop file is 600 ppi at 20x30 inches, Backdrop will render out the texture to those specs. If your Photoshop file is 72 ppi at 3x5 inches, then Backdrop will render the texture to those specs.

    Obviously, the higher the resolution and the larger the physical dimensions of your Photoshop file, the longer the render will take. The math behind Backdrop Designer is pretty intense!

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Can Backdrop Designer render any faster?

  • Q.   Can I get Backdrop Designer to render any faster. It runs okay while I'm putting the texture together. But after I hit the 'Apply' button, the Photoshop plugin can take 20 minutes to render out.
  • A. 

    Backdrop Designer works quickly while you're creating the texture because you are simply previewing the texture. The mathematical algorithms behind those beautiful textures only kick in when you hit the 'Apply' button.

    However, Backdrop Designer's render is always going to be a little slow.

    We are looking to address speed in version 2.0 by taking advantage of multi-processors. For now, we have some workflow tips for a speedier process.

    Render at Fast mode. There are a few 'Render' settings to choose from (Fast, Normal, High Quality) along the Task Bar. If you work in 'Fast' mode while you are experimenting and just doing test renders, your digital backdrop will render out pretty quickly (though the quality will be lower). Generally, you can do your final render in 'Normal' mode and get the level of detail that you need.

    Work in 16-bit mode. Working in 16-bit should also speed up your render. The Photoshop plugin is set to work natively in that bit depth, so working in 8-bit means that Backdrop Designer has to render in 16-bit then convert down to 8-bit.

    Take a break. On average, a Backdrop Designer render will take 3-5 minutes. To render out a texture that's a very high ppi or large physical size, you'll want to set the render for a time when you can walk away from the computer for a little while.

    Pre-render templates. Another idea is to pre-render some digital backgrounds that will be used frequently and treat them like templates. For instance, let’s say you have 12 standard backdrop choices that you offer to parents for school photos. Render each of these digital backdrops to its own Photoshop file. Make sure to render at the largest possible dimensions that you will need.

    Render to separate file. Create a blank Photoshop document that is the size and resolution of your final composited image. Render Backdrop Designer to that file. Then copy/paste the backdrop image into your target file, for instance, a photograph of a senior portrait.

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Will Backdrop work with 16-bit files?

  • Q.   Will Backdrop Designer work with 16-bit files?
  • A. 

    Yes, Backdrop Designer DOES work with 16-bit files. There is, however, an issue with files saved at 16-bit with multiple layers. This happens with both TIF and PSD file formats.

    The solution, for now, is to throw away all layers but the one that you are running Backdrop Designer on. Once you have rendered, you can add in any imagery you want to the layer(s) behind the masked out subject.

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Place the digital backdrop behind my subject?

  • Q.   I've created an image with Backdrop Designer. How do I get the digital background behind the girl in my photograph?
  • A. 

    It's pretty easy to add Backdrop Designer into your photograph. You will not do this insertion inside of the Backdrop plugin. Instead, you should do these 4 steps in your Photoshop file:

    1. In Photoshop's Layers palette, create a second layer in your target Photoshop file. This is the photograph that already has someone masked, possibly using our Primatte Chromakey plugin. There will be a transparent area surrounding the image.
    2. Still in the Layers palette, drag that new layer so it's below your Primatte layer. You can rename the layer 'Backdrop'.
    3. Now add the image that you want to use as your new background. With the Backdrop layer still selected, choose Backdrop Designer from your Filters menu. Create your design, then apply the plugin.
    4. Back in your Photoshop file, your newly created digital background sits behind the Primatte-treated image, and shows through the transparency of that top layer.

    If this explanation doesn't make sense, then you probably need to learn more about Photoshop. These are basic processes that every Photoshop user needs to understand. We have a more extensive explanation of this merging process in our 'Merge Layers' PDF tutorial.

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Backdrop isn't displaying in color

  • Q.   Inside the Backdrop Designer interface, when I select a colored backdrop, it appears in black-and-white. When I go to render, the backdrop still appears in black and white in my Photoshop file.
  • A. 

    Most likely, you are working in a Photoshop file that is set to Grayscale mode. You can determine that by looking in the Photoshop menu at Image> Mode, and seeing what mode is check marked. If Grayscale is checked, then select RGB Color instead. If this doesn't fix the problem, please contact us with this short Request Form.

The file 'Backdrop.8bf' will not open

  • Q.   I installed your Backdrop Designer plugin but can't get it to run. I keep clicking the file called 'Backdrop.8bf' and nothing happens. I've also tried clicking inside the folder called 'Presets' but get an error message.
  • A. 

    It sounds as if you have correctly installed the plugin. However, you want to access it through your Photoshop application, not from your hard drive

    Open a new Photoshop file, then go to the Filters menu. You should see a 'Digital Anarchy' item listed at the bottom of that menu, with a sub-menu choice of 'Backdrop Designer'

The preset's colors look wrong

  • Q.   When I load in a Texture preset, it doesn't always look like the thumbnail preview that I picked. Usually the colors are completely off. What is happening?
  • A. 

    Most likely, you changed the Texture sliders to customize your last preset. For the next preset to look like its thumbnail preview, you need to set these sliders back to their defaults. Set Blur Amount to 50%. Set Hue Shift, Saturation Shift and Brightness Shift to 0%. Now your preset looks correct!

How can I undo the last step?

  • Q.   I want to experiment more with Backdrop's textures. But every time I click a button and don't like the results, then I am stuck going back several steps to the original preset. How can I undo my changes without having to start over?
  • A. 

    Backdrop Designer supports one level of Undo. There is no Undo button, only the standard keyboard command of Control-Z for Windows, Apple-Z for Macintosh.

    You CAN toggle the Undo. Some functions are undoable; others are not. You can undo/redo your last preset load. You can undo/redo a mutation that has been selected.

    Unfortunately, you cannot undo changes to the Texture/Shadow sliders. If you change the level of Texture Blur or amount of Shadow Bend, you will need to adjust the slider by hand to get back the previous setting. You also cannot undo saving or deleting a preset.

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Display only the Texture (no Shadow)

  • Q.   How can I turn off the Shadow display? I only want to render out a Texture.
  • A. 

    It's really easy. Just set the Shadow Window's Opacity Level slider to 0%. The Shadow fades out and only the Texture will be visible.

Display only the Shadow (no Texture)

  • Q.   How can I turn off the Texture display? I only want to render out a Shadow.
  • A. 

    This is also really easy. If you set the Texture Window's Brightness Shift slider to 100 (pure white), you will see the Shadow by itself. This allows you to render out just the Shadow if you so choose, or to save the Shadow only as a Combination preset.

Insert a photo that doesn't look fake

  • Q.   Is there any way to insert a photo and make it look less fake? How can i soften the edges and make it look more realistic?
  • A. 

    That is a good question and a pretty large topic. Making your model look as if she's fully integrated into the new digital background is called 'compositing'. There are many ways to do this once you have rendered out the Backdrop Designer pattern and are back in Photoshop. Ideas include softening the edges of the person's outline, shining a digital light on both the subject and background with the Lighting filter, and creating a cast shadow.

    We explore some of these ideas in two free tutorials on this Backdrop Designer Tutorials page. One of our tutorials is 'Touch-up tricks.' The other is 'Add a shadow behind your subject.' To learn how to soften edges, you could go to a free website like