Transforming a gray, cloudy sky to a bright blue one, isolating a product for an advertising campaign and creating a transparent background for a logo are just a few ways you can benefit from learning how to remove a background in Photoshop. 

Since there are a few different ways to make your background disappear in a snap, it’s helpful to know which option will be the best for your unique project and goals. By exploring the remove background tool, the remove background Photoshop plugin, the quick selection tool and the background eraser tool, you’ll discover exactly the right solution for your image. 

Is it Easy to Remove a Background in Photoshop?

Removing a background in Photoshop has always been challenging and is usually something novices leave the professionals. With a little bit of elbow grease, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to remove a background just as easily as you might complete some other common Photoshop edits. 

If you’ve ever removed a background in other editing apps, you might be wondering about Procreate vs. Photoshop. Since Procreate focuses more on its digital art capabilities than its editing abilities, the range and complexity of the background removal tools are more limited compared to Photoshop. 

4 Simple Ways of Removing a Background in Photoshop

After you dive into the ways you can remove a background in a photo, you can make a mockup in Photoshop using background-less elements. You can also draw attention to the main element in a busy or cluttered image or remove unwanted background elements like people or other distracting objects. 

1. With Remove the Background Tool

A brown and green watercolor leaf sits on an empty background in Photoshop, indicated by its black and white checkered backdrop. 
Still from Digitize Your Art to Sell Online: Prep Your Paintings for Print-On-Demand by Cat Coquillette 
This green and brown watercolor leaf was easily distinguishable from its paper white background making it an ideal subject for Photoshop’s Remove Background tool. 

If you have a very simple photo where the main object is easily distinguishable from the background, the Remove Background tool will be the simplest way to remove its background.

For this, you’ll simply head to the Discover Panel in Photoshop by clicking on the search icon in the upper right corner of your workspace. Then, navigate to Browse and then Quick Actions where you’ll see Remove Background. 

Photoshop will automatically analyze your photo and take away its background. If you have an image of a black book on a white background, Photoshop should have no trouble properly removing the background. If you want to remove some neutral-colored shells from a sandy background, you might need to try a more complex background removal technique in Photoshop. 

2. With the “remove. bg’s” Photoshop Plugin

One step up from the Remove Background tool is the “remove.bg’s” Photoshop plugin. It uses AI to expertly separate objects from the background. It can even separate more complicated objects like hair blowing in the wind. It can also separate objects from a similar colored background. 

You’ll first need to download the “remove.bg’s” plugin from the creator’s website. Once you add it to Photoshop, navigate to “Plugins,” then “remove.bg for Adobe Photoshop” and finally click “Remove Background.”

3. With the Quick Selection Tool

Your project might be best suited for the quick selection tool if neither the Remove Background tool nor “remove.bg’s” plugin gets you your desired results. With the Quick Selection tool, you’ll manually select which parts of your subject you’d like to isolate. This means you can choose to keep or take away parts of your subject that an automatic tool or AI might not. 

You can use the Quick Selection tool by finding it on your toolbar. It might be nested under the Magic Wand tool if you don’t see it on your toolbar. A round brush will appear and you can “paint” your selection by clicking on the outline of your subject. 

As you move your brush, the Quick Selection tool will automatically expand outward and find the defined edges on your image. If needed, you can adjust your brush size or add or subtract from your selection. This tool will give you more personal control and precision. 

4. With the Background Eraser tool

An abstract blue watercolor cloud sits on a white oval, which sits on a maroon background within Photoshop. The Photoshop user is using the eraser to separate the cloud from the white oval. A black outline of a circle can be seen, representing the user’s cursor, as well as a maroon outline around the cloud, representing where the user has already erased. 
Still from Remove Backgrounds from Watercolor Illustrations by Sandra Mejia
This abstract cloud’s simple edges and small background makes it a good candidate for the Background Eraser tool. 

It might make sense for you to use the Background Eraser tool versus the Quick Selection tool if your background is smaller than the subject you’re trying to isolate. Similarly to the Quick Selection tool, you’ll have complete control over the parts of your subject that you keep or take away. Instead of selecting the outlines of your object, you’ll be erasing your background. 

To use the Background Eraser tool, you’ll need to: 

  • Open Photoshop. 
  • Access the image you’d like to work with. 
  • Select the Background Eraser tool from the Photoshop toolbox, or press “E” to use the Eraser tool. 
  • Adjust the brush size for precision. You can either do this by using the bracket keys “[“and”]” or by clicking into the menu bar. 
  • Set the brush hardness to reduce or increase the fuzziness of your edges. You can adjust brush hardness by using the slider or Shift + right-click. You might choose a softer edge if you want your subject to blend into its new background. You can choose a harder edge if you want your object to have a more defined outline.  

One thing to remember is that using the Eraser tool for background removal is irreversible, so it’s important to back up your image before getting started. 

5. With the Pen Tool

An abstract blue watercolor cloud sits on a white oval, which sits on a maroon background within Photoshop. The Photoshop user created two anchor points, one on each side of one of the cloud’s curves. A straight line and a pen-shaped cursor can be seen going through one of the anchor points, which controls the curve of the line between the two anchor points. 
Still from Remove Backgrounds from Watercolor Illustrations by Sandra Mejia
You can adjust the curve of the line between each of your anchor points, which makes the Pen tool a great choice for organic objects like this abstract cloud watercolor painting. 

Using the Pen tool can be a highly precise but also more tedious way to remove a background in Photoshop. A lot of creators turn to the Pen tool when their image is too detailed for the Quick Selection tool. Some never get around to using the Pen tool because it is one of Photoshop’s more advanced tools and can be a little difficult to get the hang of. 

To use the Pen tool to isolate your desired subject, you’ll need to: 

  • Select the Pen tool from your software’s toolbar. You’ll most likely find it in the tool palette grouped with Shape tools, the Type tool, and the Path Selection tool. 
  • Create a path by adding anchor points along the object’s edge. You can make your selection more precise and detailed by increasing the number of anchor points. 
  • Adjust curves between each of your anchor points by using the control handles. This is helpful for more organic subjects with a lot of natural curves. 
  • Close the path by bringing it back to your first anchor point. This will complete the outline and allow you to isolate your object.
  • Right-click the path and choose “Make Selection.”
  • Adjust feathering if you want smoother edges.

Choosing the Best Tool for Removing a Background in Photoshop

The first step to any successful background removal in Photoshop is understanding your project’s unique goals. Once you know what sort of subject you’re working with and what your final product should look like, you’ll be able to decide which background removal tool is best for you. 

Over the next few weeks, have fun trying out a few different background removal tools and see which you’re most comfortable with. Just remember that there is no foolproof method for removing a background and you might need to combine methods to get the best results. If you still need advanced Photoshop tips, you can find the best class selection for becoming a Photoshop expert on Skillshare.

Written by:

Calli Zarpas