How to Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

2019-11-13T19:20:36+06:00September 18th, 2019|Tutorial|0 Comments

As a photographer, I like to photograph what I see before me; I guess you could call me a realist as I am not prone to drop dragons in the background of a photo with a fair maiden in distress. But sometimes you have a photo you absolutely love, except it has a busy background that distracts the viewer from the subject of the photo. Or you have product photos, and you need to change or remove the background.

There is no one perfect solution for replacing a background. It really depends on the photo you are editing. For simple edits, you can use the Magic Wand Tool or the Quick Selection tool. For more complicated edits you may need to jump to the Background Eraser tool.

E-Commerce Scenarios

All these methods of removing or changing backgrounds are useful in the business world if your goal is to:

• Remove the background of a logo
• Change the background color of a product to match your branding colors
• Change the background when using stock photos

A logo with an opaque background might not blend well with your website’s background compared to one with a transparent background. So that is a real-world situation where you may find this technique highly useful.

Another example is if you have photos of your product, and you want to change the background or the color of the background to align the product more with your form of branding for websites or catalogue. This can also help you prepare the image for different target segments, so you can swap out backgrounds that make more sense for your audience.

Removing or changing backgrounds is perfect for when you are working with stock images especially those that have white isolated backgrounds.

Find out How to Make an Image Transparent Background in Photoshop

How to Remove and Change Background in Photoshop Using Different Tools

But first, we need a photo to work with. Here is a photo courtesy of Anchor Lee on Unsplash. (There are many wonderful photographs on the website that are license-free.)

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

As you can see, we have a photo with high contrast which will make it easier to remove the background from an image. So, let’s open it in Photoshop CC and get started!

 Change Image Background in Photoshop

Remove and Change Background Using the Quick Selection Tool

Let’s begin by checking out the Magic Wand tool and the Quick Selection tool. They are conveniently located together on the Photoshop toolbar.

Remove Background Using the Quick Selection Tool

The Quick Selection Tool selects an object in your image by interpreting and selecting along defined edges visible in your image.

Step 1: Click on the tool visible on the screen and hold. The Magic Wand tool and the Quick Selection tool options displayed.

Change Background Using the Quick Selection Tool

Photoshop has many useful keyboard shortcuts. In this case, instead of right-clicking on the tool, you can press “W” and then “Shift-W” to toggle between the two tools.

Another useful feature in Photoshop CC is that when you select a tool, a little video pops up showing how the tool works. It’s a nice way to reinforce the fact that you have the correct tool.

Remove Image Background in Photoshop using Quick Selection Tool

One advantage that the Quick Selection tool has over the Magic Wand tool is which has edge detection built-in. That helps when you are trying to select certain areas of the photo.

Step 2: Click the Quick Selection tool and drag it around the part of the photo that you want to keep. In this example, we want to select the cowboy.

When you select an area of a photo, that area is denoted by what appears to be “running ants”.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

That was not bad as a first pass but as you can see not the entire cowboy was selected as the stock of the rifle, his left arm, his coat, or the area adjacent to his right arm. But Photoshop is thinking ahead of you and changes the cursor to a “plus” sign to indicate that you can add the areas that were missed before. Alternately, if you select too much, you can click the Alt key for Windows or the Option key for the Mac. This turns the cursor into a “minus” sign which allows you to drag it over the subject and deselect areas that you do not want to be included.

So now with the aid of the Quick Selection tool, you have selected the entire subject of the photo.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 3: From the Edit menu, select Cut.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

The GUI shows the result:

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Change Background Using the Quick Selection Tool

Step 4: Open a photo that you want to use for the background.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 5: Paste the copy of the cowboy into the photo.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

As we said before, there are different ways to achieve your desired results.

Remove and Change Background Using the Magic Wand Tool

Let’s now try the same effect by using the Magic Wand tool. The Magic Wand tool is a quick and easy way to select and mask certain portions of an image, giving you the ability to alter one part of your photo while leaving other parts intact. The tool is a “go-to” tool when you want to display a product in various settings by showing it against different backgrounds, or when you want to remove a background altogether.

Remove Background Using the Magic Wand Tool

Step 1: Click on the displayed tool and hold. The Magic Wand tool and the Quick Selection tool options displays.

Step 2: Click the Magic Wand tool and select the parts of the photo that you do not want to keep.

Step 3: So, for this example, click outside of the cowboy and most of the background is selected.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

But how do you know that it is true? Notice that the arrows are pointing to the border of the photo; you can see the “running ants” include the area that does not contain the cowboy. This signifies the selected portion.

Step 4: Click the Alt key for Windows or the Option key for the Mac to change the cursor to the “plus” sign.

Step 5: Select the areas enclosed by his two arms to complete the selection as seen in the photo above.

Step 6: From the Select menu, click the Inverse option.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 7: From the Edit menu, select Cut.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Change Background Using the Magic Wand Tool

Step 8: Open a photo that you want to use for the background.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 9: Paste the copy of the cowboy into the photo.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Remove and Change Background Using Select Focus Area

Yet another method is to select a background for removal by using the Select Focus area in Photoshop. It allows you to quickly select and isolate the subject of the photo by finding everything that is in focus. For simple projects, this works well.

Remove Background Using Select Focus Area

Step 1: Make sure the Magic Wand or Quick Selection tool is active.

Step 2: Select Focus Area from the Select menu.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

The following window displays:

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

As you can see, this feature is a very good way to make a selection of the subject in the photo. You can select how the selection is displayed here by clicking the View arrow.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

The result is a selection that works well.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 3: From the Edit menu, select Cut.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

The GUI shows the result:

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Change Background Using Select Focus Area

Step 4: Open a photo that you want to use for the background.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 5: Paste the copy of the cowboy into the photo.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

How to Use Layer Masks in Photoshop – Image Masking Techniques

 

Remove and Change Background Using different Eraser Tools

Another way to achieve the same result is by using the Eraser tool. The Eraser tool is actually three erasers in one. There is the Eraser, Background Eraser, and Magic Eraser. It just depends on what you are trying to accomplish; one eraser may work better than another. In this article, we will use the Background Eraser tool. Initially, we’ll be introduced with all three tools.

Using the Eraser Tool

The Eraser tool simply erases pixels as you drag it across the photo. If the photo layer is locked, then the selected pixels are changed to the background color. If the photo layer is not locked, then the selected pixels become transparent. The Eraser tool has several options available. These allow you to:

    • Adjust the size and hardness of the eraser
    • Change whether the eraser has soft edges, hard edges, or is a square brush type
    • Change the opacity. 100% opacity totally erases the selected pixels which is what we want for this example.
    • Adjust the flow of the brush to determine how quickly the pixels are erased.
    • Allows you to use the brush like an airbrush.
    • Allows you to save your work as a snapshot of the photo.

Using the Background Eraser Tool

With the Background Eraser tool, you can remove the color from a layer or the entire photo. It is especially useful with photos that contain lots of fine detail along the edges between your subject and its background, like, if you want to erase the sky in a photo and keep the trees below it. The Background Eraser tool is, in reality, a brush that you can adjust the size of. You can do this easily by pressing the left bracket on your keyboard to make the brush smaller and the right bracket to make it larger.

Actually, the name is a misnomer. Photoshop cannot tell what the background is. What the tool does is to erase color. It looks at the colors as you drag the cursor over the photo and tells the difference by sampling the colors. So, in our example below, it can tell the distinct gray color from the colorful cowboy. You need to be careful when using the tool to erase pixels and there are only subtle differences between the colors being sampled. In this way, it can help you remove a background from a photo.

The Background Eraser tool has several options available. These allow you to:

    • Specify the type of erasure
    • Adjust the color tolerance
    • Change the sampling method

Using the Magic Eraser tool

The Magic Eraser tool erases all colors by using a set tolerance. This is like using the Magic Wand and then clicking Delete. It eliminates the need to drag the cursor because you just choose Delete once.

So, let’s start by using the Background Eraser tool.

Step 1: Click on the displayed tool and hold. We get the Eraser tool, Background Eraser Tool, and Magic Eraser tool options displayed.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Notice the keyboard shortcut. In this case, instead of right-clicking on the tool, you can press “E” and then “Shift-E” to toggle between the three tools.

Step 2: Set the options for this tool. To start with select Sample Once, Contiguous option, and a tolerance of 10%. You can, of course, change the tolerance to suit your work.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

If the color of your background is too similar to the subject and part of the subject is getting erased, try a lower tolerance setting. If, on the other hand, you notice the background color is remaining around the edges, go for a higher tolerance level.

Step 3: Select a brush size of 15 to start with and start dragging the brush along the border of the subject you want to keep and the background which you want to change.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 4: Zoom in on the photo to make it easier to create and view your changes.

Step 5: Drag the cursor brush along the border of the subject and background.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Notice the checkerboard pattern? That shows the pixels that are being deleted. By starting along the border, it makes it easier to erase the background pixels in the rest of the photo.

Step 6: Continue to brush along the border until the entire subject is done.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 7: Fill in the enclosed areas such as in the crooks of the cowboy’s arms.

Step 8: Select the Quick Selection tool from the toolbar.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 9: Click once anywhere on the photo except the cowboy subject.

Step 10: Click Delete to erase all of the selected pixels.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 11: From the Edit menu, select Cut.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 12: Open a photo that you want to use for the background.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

Step 13: Paste the copy of the cowboy into the photo.

Remove and Change Image Background in Photoshop

So, there you have several different ways you can remove a background in Photoshop and then replace it entirely on some other desired one. Now, it’s all yours to choose the method that works well for your situation.

Learn More About Our Image Background Removing Services

About the Author:

Nayan Chowdhury is a Freelance Writer who deals with Copy-writing and Blogging services. Writing has always been something for him which denotes scrutinizing data in an innovative way. He is best known for working closely with B2C and B2B clients in the field of image editing and photography for digital marketing contents that triggers search engine traffic and visibility.