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How to remove background in Photoshop?

Simple step by step of how to do one of the most commonly asked questions in Photoshop.


We all have been in situations when we looked amazing in the photo, but someone photobombed the image, or there was an unnecessary shade, or simply we would like it to be next to Eiffel Tower and not in grandma's backyard. Regardless of your reasons, removing background in Photoshop is not a difficult task, and doesn’t require being a graphic design whiz. Though, as with every tool for digital artists, Photoshop has its tricks, that are important to know before you begin.

Choose the Image

First of all, select the photo that you would like to edit. It is always easier to work with photos on a simple background, preferable without splashy elements between the frame you would like to leave and the background you want to erase. It is also important to consider the textures that might be more difficult to work with. For instance, frizzy hair or fur might require more complex editing when it comes to separating such elements from the background.

Select Your Tools

Photoshop has a variety of editing options, and each of them has its own benefits and times when they can come handy.

Option 1. Magic Wand Tool

Selecting this tool might be a wise choice if the object has well-defined lines and is somewhat easy to visually separate its frame from background. For example, this image:

The light blue car is well-separated from the dark background, moreover it has defined lines that would make it easier to use the Magic Wand Tool.

For doing this, go to Quick Selection Tool >> Magic Wand Tool.

Optionally you may select the size of the brush: the larger brush would create an effect on the blurring out from the background, while the smaller brush would make lines very straight and edgy. It is advised to select something in-between, so the margin doesn’t look too blurry or pixelated. Once the brush is picked, proceed to going around your object eliminating all of the background from selection. Magic Wand should recognise the lines of the object and help to cut off all of the noise around the object.

Next, click Delete, and the background will get erased. Now you can proceed with editing your photo further, just do not forget to create new Layers, if you mean to paste a different background.

Option 2. Background Eraser

This tool speaks for itself as it was designed to erase unnecessary scenes from the picture. It might work better for the objects that are less linear in shape and have many turns and tweaks. Though, it would be not suitable for images where both object and background are of very similar shades. Although, it wouldn’t guarantee perfect margins for your object.

To select the Background Eraser, go to the Eraser tab in Photoshop Toolbox.

Here, tuning your brush size might be critical. Best way is to select Fine Lines in Limits, and then refine the Tolerance range according to your image. The higher tolerance is, the more Photoshop will blend colours and allow wider margins. Though, if the tolerance level is too low, the edges might look slightly pixelated.

Once you are set up, continue with erasing as if you would want to erase the image fully, your object should stay intact.

By the way, if you do not have Photoshop, or other similar image editing software, Adobe offers a free online tool to erase background. It does not have full functionality and the wiggle room for experiments, but it is definitely capable of making basic adjustments to your photo. It will definitely be enough to impress your friends and family with pics from a long-awaited vacation, even if you didn’t go out of your house the whole time.

Regardless of which tool will suit you better, stay creative with your artworks and stay tuned for the next blog post!



Veronika is part of RenderThat community management team, writing about hints and tricks for artists in her free time.