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5 Photoshop Tools to Remove Background from Image

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The most frustratingly annoying thing there is when designing a picture image, is the unwanted background you have to try to remove.  Or perhaps you simply don’t like the colors and want to change them to something you like better.  You know the picture or image would be so much more attractive, look sharper for an important office presentation, illustrations for an e-book, or even a blog post, if one could simply remove the unwanted background colors from the image. Fortunately, Photoshop has a number of helpful tips to remove background from image, and put in what you do want.

We are going to explore each of the 5 different tools used to remove or change the background behind the image.

1: Remove image background with Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand Tool seems to work the best when you have a simple image that has a solid background behind it. The idea behind this tool is isolate the color in a layer. All you need to do is click on the Magic Wand Tool and use it to cut out the background and leave the image behind.

Remove background from image with Magic Wand Tool

You can then add any background color you like behind the image.  Depending on the image that you have, you may want to have the convenience of selecting the background color that enhances the image, rather than making it look dull or lifeless.

You will want to go to the layer panel on the right hand side and unlock the background.

Unlock the layer

Then you move to the left hand side of the page click on the Magic Wand Tool icon, which is located underneath the quick selection tool icon.

Magic wand tool

You will left click on it and bring the little cursor over to your picture.

At the top of the page, on the tool bar you will see tolerance, this should be set at 32, then following that is the anti alias, contiguous, and sample all layers.  Be sure that you check the box in front of each of them. What the 32 refers to is that the Magic Wand chooses 32 shades of the color it is sitting on.  That’s 32 shades higher and 32 lower.

Select tolerance of Magic wand tool

Then all you have to do is simply left click somewhere in the background, and you will see all the little marching ants around the edges of your image, as well as at the edges of the background.

Click on image by magic wand tool

You may notice darker shades next to parts of the image, for this you will change the tolerance to 60, left click on the background again the whole background is selected.

Click on image again by 60 tolerance

Now you go to the top of the page, hit select, scroll down and click on Inverse.

Inverse the selection

Then click on refine edge and the background disappears.

Click refine edge

2: Remove background from photo, using the Polygonal Lasso Tool

Another handy tool to remove the background around the image is the Polygonal Lasso Tool.  This can be particularly useful when you have a moderately complex item like a bird on a fence, for instance.

Remove background from image using the Polygonal Lasso Tool

You would start by duplicating the background layer so you have something to go by as you work.  The lasso tool is designed for working with objects that complex edges set against a contrast color.  When using the lasso tool, you can choose the area you wish to keep (the bird and the fence). Then by clicking the move tool, you can move your chosen area and the background remains empty.  When you have moved the image to where you it to be located on the page, you can then add other colors as needed to enhance the image or use the colors that make the image stand out more.

Another option is to open the lasso icon on the left, select the Polygonal Lasso Tool, and then pick a spot on the image to connect the lasso.

Polygonal Lasso Tool

Then you just simply pull the “string“ out along the surface of the image, and work your way around the entire image.

string out along the surface

Then you choose the refine edge box.

select refine edge for bird image

Select a 1 for smooth, 0.8 for feather, and a +4 for contract/expend, select layer mask from “output to” and then click on ok. Go to the right hand side of the page, turn off the original layer, and the background disappear.  You can now add a new color background.

Background disapear of bird image

3: Remove background from image, using the Magic Eraser tool

The Magic Eraser Tool is used to remove background color for moderately complex images. This tool is similar to the Magic Wand Tool, except that the Eraser tool that allows you to remove the original background from a photo and turn it transparent so you can place your photo on a new background, or place it into an altogether new photo. It does this by changing the color you click on to transparent.

Remove background from photo using the Magic Eraser tool

You can find the Magic Eraser Tool hiding under the regular eraser tool. Just simply click on the magic eraser tool and it will pop up.

Magic Eraser tool

The next area to look at is the tolerance area at the top of the screen, this can go anywhere from 0 to 255. The lower the number, the less areas that can be changed. So this should be left at the default of 32.  Next to that you will see the anti alias box, this is used to make a nice, smooth edge, so you want to leave that box checked. Then you will see a box called contiguous, now that means a color will only go to transparent if its connected to the color you have checked on. Now if you uncheck the box, you will find that when you click on the color (say white for instance,) it will change all the white color in the entire picture to transparent, including any in the image, and you don’t want that, so leave the box checked. The next box says sample all layers, don’t check that box. Last there is a box that says 100% opacity, be sure to leave that checked.

Set tolerance of Magic Eraser tool

Then you just simply left click on any of the area of the car image and the background will vanish.Click by magic eraser tool-on-background of car image

So you can now vanish whole background area by left clicking on every different color of the background.

Vanished whole background from car image

4: Remove background in Photoshop, using the Background Eraser Tool

The Background Eraser Tool is another great tool that works really well to remove background on photos that contain animal images, trees or even hair on a model. This is another tool that is used to remove background from image in Photoshop.

Remove background in Photoshop by Background Eraser Tool

The Background Eraser Tool has some of the same unique features as the magic eraser tool, in that it changes the background layer into a regular unlocked layer just simply by clicking once with it on your picture.

Copy the first layer. You would start by removing the excess background around the image first. Then you create a second layer, choose a solid color for the excess background.

Create a solid color in layer

Next go to the Background Eraser Tool and select it.

Background eraser tool

Then choose size 200 brush, Sampling: Background Swatch, discontinuous and tolerance 50.

Option of background eraser tool

Now hold down the left mouse button and go around entire image. You will notice a tiny white edge around the hair if you chose dark color. If you want to remove the white line, you can use the burn tool, but that’s up to you.

Applying background eraser tool

Now if you had chosen a lighter color, you would not even see that.  So, now complete erasing the whole background holding down the left mouse button and you can add a different color to the background as you wish.

Completed image using background eraser tool

5: Remove background from image by Photoshop Pen tool

One of the most commonly used methods to remove background is with the Pen tool.  Most people use the Pen Tool to simply hand draw a clipping path around the image, in order to remove the background from the image.

Remove background from image by Photoshop Pen tool

Select the pen tool from toolbar at the left side of the page.

pen tool

After you select the pen tool, check at the top of the page to make sure you have the path not the select layer checked.

Select paths

Then, using the pen tool, choose certain points on the line surrounding image and move the points to where you want, so that a solid line closely ‘hugs your image.” The modifications are quite simple to do.  You can also go in and do any fine tuning you want after the main areas are sketched out.

Create path around image

Then simply click on make selection from upper right hand corner of the paths, where you can choose the anti alias and set the feather radius at 0.5 pixels.  You can also make it bigger if you wish (that’s completely up to you). You will then see the marching ants around the image.

Make selection of created path

Then you want to go the top of the page to inverse the selection and delete, and the background disappears.

Final image by pen tool

This one of the easiest and simplest way to generate a high quality finished edge of a product.  You will be surprised how easy it is to remove the background from image by using this technique. You can then add any background you wish, but this will give you a basic idea how to remove the background using the pen tool.

These 5 versatile tools make using Photoshop a breeze to use to enhance your photos and pictures. Each tool has its own unique characteristics that are useful for the many different images, photos and pictures you might have. There is nothing better than an attractive presentation for your office or demonstrating your work for a client. An e-book always has more appeal when the text is interspersed with colorful photos. Make your all of your favorite photos pop with the Photoshop Elements tools and be happy.

Make your images pop with-these Photoshop tools and be happy

However, you may find that you just don’t have the time to try to change the backgrounds in your pictures. If that is the case, then all you need to do, is go to one of the many service providers who specialize in removing backgrounds in photos and also cleaning up the images as you wish.

You can find these companies in Asia, by doing a simple Google search. These service providers have expert photo editors standing by, or on call, waiting to provide you with fast delivery at a reasonable price. Many companies offer 24-hour service for your added convenience. They also can provide high volume and bulk orders with fast turn around time. For more ideas and information, email us at: info@clippingpathspecialist.com .

About the auther 

Rokaiya is a creative graphic designer, Internet marketer, and a blogger. She joined the team of clippingpathspecialist.com is a brand of Outsource Experts Ltd on 2010 as a head of it’s marketing department, and she's been working with the tool ever since! She likes to share tips and tricks on photo editing and graphic design!

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