From product photography to sleek website designs: Sometimes a picture without the background is just better. Fortunately, a picture with a transparent background and a bit of Photoshop magic is pretty easy. The process may be a bit patient, especially for complex objects, but recent updates to Adobe Photoshop make the task even easier. This is how it works:
Choosing a Photoshop Selection Tool
To make a background transparent, you must choose what you want to keep and delete what you do not want. Which of Photoshop's many selection tools work best for this task? That depends on the image. If you are working with a picture on a background with a lot of contrast, eg. As a dark object on a light background or a monochrome logo, the selection process is a bit easier.
For this tutorial we are assuming you are working with something more difficult. If you can remove a background with lots of movement, you can remove any background. Even if you work with a white or solid background, you can save time by familiarizing yourself with it.
: The Magic Wand Tool selects all pixels with a similar color. For example, if you use a logo on a white background, all you have to do is click on a white area to select it, and then click Delete to delete it. You can repeat this if multiple sections of the background are divided by parts of the object that you want to cut.
The Rectangular and Elliptical Selection Tool works if you want to pick an object that is a perfect rectangle or a perfect circle. Simply place the selection over what you want to keep, and follow steps 4, 6, and 7 below.
lasso Select and Select Subject and Mask tools work better to remove a more complex background. There is a lot of hidden power in Photoshop. Here are the basic steps to getting these tools up and running.
Go to Select> Select Theme
Photoshop's new Select Theme theme provides a simple start. Go to Select> Select Subject. The process takes a few seconds, but Photoshop then uses artificial intelligence to roughly select the subject of the photo. The tool does not usually get it perfect, but that's fine – you can refine the selection in the next step. If the Select Theme tool does not work for you (or you are using an older version of Photoshop), go to the next step and start the selection from the beginning.
If the Select Theme tool works properly (happens!), Go to step 4.
. 2 For complex themes, use Selection and Mask to refine the selection
It may be that your selection is not quite perfect. If you are working with an object with well-defined edges, the magnetic lasso is probably the easiest route. Proceed to the next step. However, for objects with less defined edges, textures, and highly irregular shapes, the Select and Mask tool is often easier. For objects with both, such as the image of the camera used in this tutorial, you can use a mix of both methods.
Optimize the selection by going to Select> Select and Mask. Refine the selection in the selection and mask window. Use the Brush tool from the toolbar on the left and choose the plus icon in the top toolbar. Then swipe over all the items you want to include in the selection, but this is not. Or, click the minus icon above to delete parts that should not be part of the selection. Remember that the theme should be selected and the background you want to remove is not selected.
If the brush chooses too much, zoom in and use a smaller brush (next to the plus and minus icons above) and decrease the radius in the dashboard. If the brush does not pick enough, use a larger brush and increase the radius.
Use the Select and Mask tools to make the selection as good as possible, but do not sweat if it's not perfect yet. Make sure you do not choose too much – leaving something out makes it harder to go back later. Click OK as soon as you have refined the selection as much as possible.
Before proceeding to the next step, enlarge all edges and make sure the selection is not left out. If so, just open the selection and masking tool and select this area.
. 3 Turn your selections into a layer
Save what you've selected so far on a new level, even if it's not perfect yet. If these "marching ants" are still showing your selections, copy (Ctrl or Command + C) and paste (dash or command + V) the selection. The inserted selection is automatically displayed as a separate layer. Alternatively, you can also go to Layer> New> Layer by Copy.
In the Layer panel, click the eye icon next to the original background layer. This will allow you to see your transparent background, but not delete the background yet.
. 4 Continue with the Lasso Tools and Eraser
Photoshop has a dozen different selection tools. Like people with hair), the magnetic lasso can be faster for clearly defined edges. Refine your selections to Select and Mask, or jump directly to this step if you cut an object with well-defined edges.
Select the magnetic lasso tool. The lasso tools are the third from the top of the standard toolbox. However, you can hold more than one click and then select the Magnetic Lasso tool from the drop-down list (it's the icon with a magnet in the corner). If your object has both well-defined and straight edges, polygonal lasso may be the easier choice, but it does not work with curves.
Click the outer edge of the object to select more background areas to remove. The magnetic lasso snaps to the edges of the object. However, be sure to click regularly enough to support the object. If you have selected part of the background, tap the delete key.
You can also remove sections of the background with the eraser from the Toolbox. This is good for the final cleaning after the lasso tool.
. 5 Delete background
Finally, go to the layer window and click on the background layer. Click "Delete" to remove the background and leave only the selection. You can add a new background layer to play with different colors, gradients, or images to see how the selected object appears above it.
. 6 Save as PNG file
If you save your file as a JPEG, it will be displayed against a white background because JPEG does not support transparency. Go to File> Save As and select PNG from the file type options. Now you have a PNG file that you can place anywhere with a transparent background.