Creating Back-screened Images in Lightroom

Back-screening is a popular method of taking a full color image and lightening it so dramatically that you can easily put text over it and have it be clearly readable, or add another smaller inset photo on top of it and have it stand out, etc.. You’ll see this used a lot for the title slide of a slideshow or maybe in a wedding book, or just for an effect.

You start in the Develop module but finish in the Print Module where you can save your image as a JPEG and then reimport it and use it anywhere (from a photo book to a print to a slideshow — all in Lightroom). Here’s how:

Backscreen 1


Here’s the original image open in Lightroom. Now, in the Develop Module, go the Tone Curve panel (as seen here).

Backscreen 2


Grab the bottom left corner point of the Curve (well, of the diagonal straight line), and drag straight upward (as seen here). The higher you drag, the more pronounced the back-screened effect will be.

Backscreen 3


Now bounce over to the Print Module; scroll down to the Page module and turn on the Checkbox for Identity Plate. Now click and hold on the bottom right corner of the Identity Plate preview (in the Page module) and from the pop-up menu choose Edit to bring up the Identity Plate Editor you see above. Now, enter your text (I used Bickham Script Pro which comes with Photoshop, so if you have Photoshop installed, you should have this font. If you don’t, just choose a nice script font. I also used all-lowercase just for looks.

Backscreen 4a


When you click the “OK” button in the Identity Plate Editor it adds your text (though it will be centered, so in this case I just clicked and dragged it up into the empty space at the top to complete the effect.). Now you can save it as a JPEG in the Print Job folder; reimport that new JPEG image (it will have the back screen effect and the type just like you see above), and use that anywhere you like within Lightroom (or anywhere else for that matter).

Pretty darn simple, eh? I love when they’re simple. 🙂



Backscreen 5

ABOVE: You can also use this back-screen technique if you want to inset a photo on top of another photo (as seen above) using the Print Module’s Custom Custom Package feature. If you all want me to do a quick tutorial on how to do this variation, let me know and I’ll put one together for ya. (By the way: I changed the font here to P22-Cezanne).

Hope that starts your Monday off with something useful.



P.S. If you’re not a part of KelbyOne yet, if you get a sec head over to this week because every day we’re running specials for the holidays, so if you ever wanted a subscription (or wanted to gift a subscription to someone), they have some really sweet deals. 



  1. Faith P 31 July, 2015 at 13:46 Reply

    I got my backscreen to work, and I love it. Thank you!! I have another question, though…..

    In WhiteBalance: when I clicked on it the only thing that comes up is As Shot, Auto, Custom…why doesn’t the other settings show like, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, etc. I have the Lightroom 6 version. Is there something I need to do?

  2. Barbara Riddell 17 December, 2014 at 06:36 Reply

    This is a great tip but I am having trouble when I try saving the photo after I add the text. The text only shows in the print module it is not there in the library or develop. Is this normal ? I would like to see a tutorial of this process and the custom package process. Thanks for all the tips you show us Scott Kelby !

    • Scott Kelby 17 December, 2014 at 08:21 Reply

      hi Barbara — like I mentioned — you’ll have to save the final image (in the Print module) as a JPEG (you do that in the Print Job panel), then reimport that image into Lightroom — then you can use it any way you’d like. 🙂

  3. christine 15 December, 2014 at 13:40 Reply

    So I can’t figure out the tone curve portion of the tutorial. I can’t drag the whole diagonal line. I can drag on the line next to the end point changing the shape of the curve, but the end point stays put. I noticed my Point Curve was set to linear instead of custom. But I can’t figure out how to change that to custom. My only options are linear, medium contrast and strong contrast.

    • lyle 15 December, 2014 at 18:54 Reply

      There is a little box with a curve in it… to the right lower portion of the “Tone Curve” panel. Click on it, and then you’ll be able to slide the left end of the “curve” line up.

  4. Joe S 15 December, 2014 at 12:07 Reply

    Sure wish I could figure out how to get a horizontal image to look horizontal instead of vertical when chosing (1)8×10 on the left in the print module. You are showing horizontal so I guess there is a way of getting that. Sorry for such a dumb question.

    • lyle 15 December, 2014 at 12:46 Reply

      Joe – I just change the horizontal and vertical dimensions in the Custom File Dimensions area to make the width be 10, height be 8 , then adjust the margins to 0 all around. That gives me the final size I need for printing at a service (costco, hey I’m cheap).

      That will allow you to print to JPG that exactly matches the media size.

      You might want to do it on a copy of the template though so you have the original margins for the paper size it was intended to be printed on.

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