Fan of creative technology, elearning, instructional design and a little geeky

How to remove a background from an image in Photoshop

How do I remove a background from an image?

The following Photoshop tutorial (youtube video) shows one of many techniques there are for removing image backgrounds. The technique used doesn’t permanently remove the background pixels in the images, but allows you to further correct and fine-tune the transparent background you create through the use of a Layer Mask.

Thank you Rebecca from Canberra, ACT for mailing in this question.

We’re looking at the following steps:

  • Step 1: Try to select either the background you want to remove, or if it’s easier the foreground object. In this example it is easier to select the object we want to keep. I use the Quick Selection tool, because it is a great tool to quickly select areas that have a pretty sharply defined edge.
  • Step 2: Refine the selection by using different selection tools to add or subtract from the selection. All of the selection tools (Lasso tool, Marquee tools, Magic Wand etc.) can work together as long as the selection is active. Press shift to add to a selection, press Alt or Option to subtract from a selection.
  • Step 3: Once you’re just about right with your selection, click Refine Edge… and use this command to make some very cleaver tweaks to your selection. You can also see exactly what you’ve got selected using this command. From this command you can immediately output to a Layer Mask… seriously cool, as it means you are hiding pixels and NOT deleting them.
  • Step 4: You can fine tune your layer mask in a number of ways. You can use the paint brush and paint with black or white to hide or show parts of the image (or paint with a gray tint to create opacity), or when you double click on the Layer Mask, you can use the settings in the Properties panel for the mask, including the Mask Edge setting which is a bit like Refine Edge and can output the changes back into the mask.

The following tutorial shows the steps listed above in action (closed captioning has been added to this video):

Similar posts
  • Fixing up old photos with Adobe Photoshop As part of the April 2015 Adobe User Group meeting in Perth, I recorded a series of videos that covered some of the tips we reviewed during that meeting. For a full read-up about this meeting, please visit the Rejuvenating old photos and documents meeting round-up page. Video 1: Converting an old sepia tone back [...]
  • Channels, Masks and Adjustment Layers… Channels, Masks, Adjustment Layers… Photoshop CS5 rocks when it comes to using these features in conjunction with each other. Did you know you could use color channel information in Photoshop as the basis for a mask, that will control where a particular color adjustment might be applied? All without harming any pixels whatsoever in the original image? [...]
  • Removing power lines from a photo with Photoshop Photoshop CS5 introduces us to a very cool new tool, the Content-Aware Spot Healing Brush Tool a true power  tool, that has many different uses. You can use it to get rid of blemishes in an image, such as spot in a persons face, clean-up rubbish or loose leaves that might lay on a lawn in [...]
  • How to fix horizons that are on an angle in Photosho... We've all got them... those holiday shots where the ocean seems to be running of the edge of the image, where the horizon is no longer horizontal. With Photoshop CS5 we can straighten out those images faster then ever before. In the following video let's take a look at how we can use the Crop tool, Ruler tool, Arbitrary rotation, [...]
  • Better Photoshop Techniques adds Augmented Reality To celebrate the arrival of Photoshop CS5, Better Photoshop Techniques magazine, created an exclusive augmented reality back cover for Issue 22. It’s cool really… Navigate to the Better Photoshop Techniques web-site, take your edition of the magazine, click the special viewer pop-up window, hold out your back-cover and smile for the camera! Augmented Reality (AR) [...]

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *