From product photography to sleek website designs, sometimes an image is simply better without the background. But if you try to do the job without the right tools, even the most experienced photographers can throw the computer out the window. Fortunately, recent updates to Adobe Photoshop make the process simple – and sometimes as simple as a few clicks. A new feature in Photoshop 2020 makes the background transparent with just a few clicks, but complex background images may require manual background removal.
Learn how to make a background transparent in Photoshop with a few different tools, and soon & # 39; I will be ready to tackle any type of background removal.
The quick and dirty way to remove a background in Photoshop
Photoshop 2020 comes with a new background removal shortcut powered by the Select Subject tool. The shortcut is not always correct, but works well for simple images and can be easily refined for others. Before you begin, check if you have Photoshop 2020, version 21.0.0 or higher. If this is not the case, you must first update the software.
Start by copying the background layer to create the type of layer that Photoshop needs to use the tool. Select the entire photo (command + A on MacOS or Control + A on Windows) and copy and paste. Click in the layer panel on the eye icon next to the background layer to hide the background. From here you only work with the new layer that you have just created.
In the Properties panel on the right, navigate to the Quick Actions section. If you do not see the properties window, click the icon that looks like this:
Under Quick Actions, click Remove Background. You must wait a few minutes for the program to find the subject and remove the background. Once the program is complete, you will see the subject on a transparent background (indicated by the checkered pattern). If you don't see that transparent background, make sure your background layer is hidden.
This fast method works great for some photos, with laughable results for others. If it does not work for you, continue with the manual method below. If the result is close, but not entirely perfect, click on the mask that Photoshop has automatically created (the black-and-white image in the layer panel). With the mask selected, select a white brush to add to the subject and the black brush to erase all parts of the background that have not been removed.
If you are satisfied with the results, you can remove the background layer and save the file as a PNG to maintain transparency, or as a PSD to come back later and make more adjustments.
How to remove manually in Photoshop
Choosing a Photoshop selection tool
Creating a background transparent means that you select what you want to keep and remove what you don't want. But which of the different Photoshop selection tools is best for the task? That depends on the image. If you work with an image on a background with a lot of contrast, such as a dark object on a light background or a logo in one color, the selection process is a bit easier.
For this tutorial we assume that you are working with something more difficult – because if you can remove a busy background, you can remove any background, and even if you work with a white or solid background, you can save some time familiarize yourself with Different Photoshop selection tools.
The magic wand will select all pixels with a similar color. With a logo on a white background, for example, you only have to click on a white area to select it and then press delete to delete it. You may have to repeat this if multiple parts of the background are divided by parts of the object that you want to cut out.
The Select Object tool uses artificial intelligence to select the boundaries of an object. You draw a rough outline to indicate which object and Photoshop A.I. does the rest. This tool can also be used to remove an object from a current selection.
The tool rectangular and elliptical selection frame works if you want to select an object that is a perfect rectangle or circle. Place the selection above what you want to keep and then follow steps four and six below.
The lasso Select subject and Select and mask work better for removing a more complex background and with much of the hidden power of Photoshop. Here are the basic steps to make these tools work.
1. Go to select> Select subject
The Select subject tool of Photoshop provides an easy start for removing the background. Go to Select> Select subject . The process takes a few seconds, but Photoshop will then roughly select the subject of the photo using artificial intelligence. The tool usually doesn't get it perfect, but that's fine – you can refine the selection in the next step.
If the photo has more than one subject and you want to select only one object, you can use the Select the Object tool. Choose the Select Object tool (Photoshop 21.0.0 and later) in the toobox, it is tucked away with the Magic Wand tool. Draw a box around the object and
If the Select Subject tool does not work for you (or if you are using an older version of Photoshop), go to the next step and restart the selection completely.
If the Select Subject tool works perfectly (it happens!), Proceed to step 4.
2. For complex subjects, use Selection and masking to refine the selection
There is a good chance that your selection is not entirely perfect. If you work with an object with well-defined edges, the magnetic lasso tool is probably the easiest route, so go ahead and proceed to the next step. However, for objects with less defined edges, texture, and wildly irregular shapes, the Select and Mask tool is often easier. You can use a combination of both methods for objects with both, such as the image of the camera used in this tutorial.
Adjust the selection by going to Select> Select and mask . Refine the selection in the window Select and mask . Use the brush in the toolbar on the left and select the plus sign in the top toolbar and then swipe over everything that should be included in the selection but that is not. Or click on the minus sign at the top to iron over pieces that should not be part of the selection. Remember that the goal is to select the subject and the background that you want to remove is not selected.
If the brush selects too much, zoom in and use a smaller brush size (right next to the plus and minus signs at the top) and lower the radius in the property bar. If the brush does not select sufficiently, use a larger brush size and increase the radius.
Get the selection as good as possible with the Selection and Masking tool, but do not sweat if it is not yet perfect. Make sure you are on the side of selecting too much – if you leave something out, it's harder to go back later. Click on OK once you have refined the selection as well as possible.
Before proceeding to the next step, zoom in on all edges and make sure that you do not omit anything from the selection. If you did that, simply open the Select and Mask tool and select that area.
3. Change your selection to a layer
Save what you have selected so far in a new layer, even if it is not yet perfect – make sure you have not omitted anything that needs to be selected. With those "marching ants" that still indicate your selection, copy (Control or Command + C) and paste (Control or Command + V) the selection. The pasted selection is automatically displayed as its own layer. You can also go to Layer> New> Layer via copy .
In the layer panel, click the eye icon next to the original background layer. With this you can see your transparent background, but do not remove the background yet.
4. Keep refining with lasso tools and the eraser
Photoshop has about a dozen different selection tools, and while Selecting and masking works well with objects that are difficult to select (such as people with hair), the magnetic lasso tools can be faster for well-defined edges. Continue to refine your selection after Select and mask or jump directly to this step when you crop an object with well-defined edges.
Select the Magnetic Lasso tool. The lasso tools are the third from the top in the standard toolbox, but there is more than one – click and hold and then choose the magnetic lasso tool from the drop-down list (this is the icon with a magnet in the corner). If your object has both well-defined and straight edges, the polygonal lasso tool might be the simpler choice, but it doesn't work with curves.
Click around the outside edge of the object to select additional background areas to remove. The magnetic lasso snaps at the edges of the object, but click regularly enough to help it. After you have selected part of the background, tap the delete key.
You can also remove parts of the background with the eraser from the toolbox. This is good for the final cleaning after using the lasso tool.
5. Remove the background
Finally go to the panel Layers and click on the background layer. Click remove to remove the background and leave only the selection that you have made. You can add a new background layer to play with different colors, gradients, or images to see how your selected object appears over it. If you want that transparent background, however, you want to leave the image as it is after you remove it.
6. Save as PNG
If you save your file as JPEG, you will get a white background because JPEG does not support transparency. Go to File> Save as and choose PNG from the file type options. Now you have a PNG file that you can place anywhere with a transparent background. If you want to be able to easily make further changes, you can also save a second version as a PSD file.
Recommendations from editors