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How to Remove a Background in Photoshop

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

If you want to learn how to remove a background in Photoshop or how to make a background transparent in Photoshop, in this tutorial I will show you the most universal method for achieving this goal. It can be applied to multiple images so you can apply this step by step tutorial on how to delete a background in Photoshop. I'll teach you how to isolate the object, and how to keep its edges smooth in the process. 

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

What You Will Need

You can use any photo for this tutorial on how to remove an image from a background in Photoshop, but if you want to follow my steps directly, download this image:

How to Remove a Background in Photoshop

Step 1

First, we need to tell Photoshop where the object ends and the background starts. There are many selection tools available, but if you want to be precise, it’s best to use the Pen Tool (P). Try to imagine the selection outline. Zoom in and click somewhere on this imaginary outline.

use pen tooluse pen tooluse pen tool

Step 2

Find another place to click—this time click and hold. A line will appear between the two points. If you move your cursor now, you’ll have a chance to control the shape of the curve. Try to make it fit the imaginary selection outline.

Remember not to drag too far—the handle you're dragging should land on the outline. The curvier the area, the closer you should place your points. Don't be afraid to Undo and try again if you placed a point too far away.

create first linecreate first linecreate first line
create a curvecreate a curvecreate a curve

Step 3

Once you've gone around the whole object, simply click the first point to close the outline.

close the pathclose the pathclose the path

Step 4

Sometimes, objects have an inner outline as well. Select it the same way.

cut inner pathcut inner pathcut inner path

Step 5

Press Control-Enter to turn the path into a selection.

turn path into selectionturn path into selectionturn path into selection

Step 6

You could remove the background now, but we can do one more thing to make the effect more convincing. Press Control-Alt-R to refine the edge of the selection. Change the View Mode to On Black, and check Smart Radius.

check smart radiuscheck smart radiuscheck smart radius

Step 7

Experiment with the Radius and Adjust Edge settings to make the edge of selection smoother and more natural. If the background was blurry, the object should have slightly blurry edges as well.

make selection smoothermake selection smoothermake selection smoother

Step 8

When you’re done, set the Output to Layer Mask and press OK.

change outputchange outputchange output

Step 9

The background has disappeared! But sometimes, only after removing the background do you notice a flaw in the selection. It’s not a problem at all—just click the Layer Mask to select it and then paint carefully with black and white. Black will remove the area, and white will bring it back. You can also use various shades of gray to create a semi-transparent effect.

edit layer maskedit layer maskedit layer mask
paint on layer maskpaint on layer maskpaint on layer mask

Step 10

Additionally, you can use this technique to bring back the shadow that belongs to the object, not the background. This will make the isolated object look more complete.

add shadow to selectionadd shadow to selectionadd shadow to selection

Step 11

If you’re happy with the selection, right-click the Layer Mask and select Apply Layer Mask. The background will be permanently removed.

apply layer maskapply layer maskapply layer mask

If you ever wanted to know how to change the background color in Photoshop, now you're able to do it—use the Paint Bucket Tool (G) on a layer below, or place a photo, or fill it with a pattern.

how to change background color in Photoshophow to change background color in Photoshophow to change background color in Photoshop

Good Job!

Now you know how to remove a background in Photoshop! Now go forth and apply your new background removal skills to your other Photoshop projects.

how to make background transparent in photoshophow to make background transparent in photoshophow to make background transparent in photoshop

Do you want to learn more about creating photo effects, or maybe even Photoshop actions? Try these tutorials as well:

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