How to green screen with free software (or in other words, replace the green background) is very easy once you know where to get the tools and what needs to be done. This has been a secret weapon of mine but now I’m going to share with you one of my personal favorite tools. I am going to show you everything you need to download (only two things) and what to do to create a green (or blue) chroma keyed photo with your own backdrop instead of the green screen.
First off, I assume you know what green screen and Chroma Key is or you probably wouldn’t be here right now. A quick definiton of green screen just in case: Using a green background behind your subject when you are photographing them allows you to replace the background using Chroma Key tools. This enables you to replace the green background with any type of photo or digital backdrop. That way, it looks like they were standing or sitting in front of the backdrop you replaced the green screen with. A real cost effective solution to buying many different muslin cloth backdrops.
If you don’t have any type of green screen, you can make your own from green cloth or even posterboard. You can see the video on the right to see how to build a green screen background out of poster board. I prefer a green muslin cloth background since it is portable (folds up next to nothing) and can also be draped around things if needed. You also must make sure you try and evenly light your green screen with as much evenly disfused light as possible. It’s not absolutely critical but you get better results if you do. I have many type of green screen cloth backdrops and inexpensive lighting on the sight here if you want to go that route. We will cover the creation or setting up of your green backdrop or background in another article. We’ll assume you have it setup for this article.
Now, you need your portraits or photos of someone with a green screen behind them. If you haven’t done that yet, do that now. If you have your green screen photos now, you have some pretty ugly photos and we want to change that ugly bright green background into something pretty cool looking. First thing you need to do is download a free software package called Paint.net. You will also need the free Chroma Key plugin for Paint.net.
Paint.net is a 100% free photograph and graphic editor just like Photoshop is. It has many of the same exact features as photoshop, exluding the $700 price tag. Paint.net is completely free and works great. The Chroma key plugin was written for Paint.net and rivals some of the more professional tools for green screen/chroma keying that I’ve seen. The Chroma key plugin will also do blue screen chroma keying also which is about the same thing, but we’re just going to discuss the green screen chroma key right now. So download the tools now so I can show you how to green screen effectively and cost free.
Here are the links to download both…
Paint.Net Download - This is CNET. Click the green download button to start your download.
Chroma Key Plugin - This is downloading from the Paint.net Plugin forum.
Once you download both, install Paint.net.
1. Paint.net comes in a zip file so once you find the file, double-click it then double-click the Paint.NET.3.5.10.Install.exe installer file.
2. If you are asked if you want to run the file, choose Run. You will see it unpack some files then the install screen will come up.
3. It defaults to Quick setup so leave it there and choose next.
4. Agree to the license agreement by clicking the option button next to I Agree and click next.
5. It will create a restore point which takes a couple of minutes and then it will start installing. It will also check your system performance and optimize itself for your system.
6. Once that is complete, unclick start Paint,net and click finish.
7. Now, find your ChromaKeyPlugin.zip file you downloaded and double-click it.
8. Copy the ChromaKeyPlugin.dll file to c:\Program Files\Paint.NET\Effects folder.
9. You are now done with the install. Run your Paint.net by clicking the icon on your desktop that was installed or click Start button –> all programs –> Paint.net
If all was done as described, you should see this…
Now check to make sure your Green Screen plugin is installed correctly. Under the menu option “Effects”, choose photo. You should see Chroma Key on the menu. If you do, your plugin is installed correctly.
Now we are ready to start green screening. Load up one of your photos where you have a green screen behind the subject.
Now create another layer below this layer by going to the menu item “Layers” and selecting “New Layer”. Move that layer below your photo layer by going to the layers window in the lower right hand part of the screen, selecting the blank new layer and clicking the down arrow.
Go to the menu and choose Effects –> Photo –> Chroma Key. you will see this next…
Click the default button. This will work most of the time. If you find extra green in the photo, you can fine tune your sliders to get the best effect. Do not make drastic changes to the sliders since you will not get good results with that. You can always click default and start over if you have to.
Once you see no green, you are done. Click okay.
Now you will want to add a background.
Select the blank layer in the layers window. Paste a photo into that layer/window and it will be a background, right in back of the photo you just de-green screened.
Now you have a completely finished photo with a new background that cost you nothing to make. Save your photo and you are done. This Chroma tool works fantastic and does such a great job. Now you know how to green screen without buying any software at all and it is simple as pie. Have fun