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i dont think anyone can tell you how to design a background... it depends on the concept, the messaging, the graphics involved...color scheme..etc..etc..
a background can be as simple as a pure white background to make your images and text pop, to a complex gradient, or some textured background...
all of those tools are available in PS you just have to learn to use them...
ive done hundres of banners, vertical, horizontal...etc.. and each background was different from the last...
if you are looking for the technical usage of PS, then creating a background can be as easy as creating a new layer, making sure it is beneath all other layers, set a gradient or textured background.
maybe put a stroke inside, 1px to set a nice border...
if i didnt answer your Q, please explain in further detail.
PS provides many tools for this purpose.... but knowing your client or the project FIRST is what is most important. New Age, New Edge, or Old Hat, Charming Sophistication... ask those questions then let the creative muse take you there.
Or hire a graphic artist... particularly an electronic graphic artist as their prices are generally more reasonable than standard materials artists.
If you have an earlier version, like PS 6 or 7, you will need to search for a different edition. The dummies series is also very good for beginners and usually breaks things down in a pretty easy-to-learn fashion but I have not personally read one for Photoshop so I cannot attest to its content. If you're interested in those, you can check out these listings:
There are probably hundreds of other good ones to choose from... just make sure to read the reviews before buying.
If I gave the impression you need an artist, well, that's what I meant, but by all means go for it.
And also consider artists in the traditional sense. There's kids in high school who can scribble better than I can and are not locked into a mindset, and work for $5.00 an image. Don't say no to that source, but do get a reasonable contract with them for their contract for hire work.
In the final analysis if the work needs to get done and you're the only one who can do it, then do what PLEASES YOU, first, then let the client make the call... they can then make suggestions and that might provide other inspiration. As those tenny shoo guys say: "Just do it."