Photoshop is the gold standard for photo editing software. It has the ability to quickly touch up an old photo or create a completely new design with ease, using both basic and advanced features to serve many users. One way to brighten up an old photo is to remove or replace the background in Photoshop.
Luckily, Photoshop is now easier than ever thanks to simple photo editing like this. If you want to learn how to remove a background in Photoshop, you will need to follow these simple steps. This tutorial works best for the latest version of Photoshop, but may work for older versions as well.
Remove a background in Photoshop using the Background Eraser tool
If you’ve ever cut out an object from an image in Photoshop, you should be familiar with the many steps used to process images. For backgrounds, you can use a special tool called the Background Eraser to remove the background from an image in Photoshop.
This is the most well-known method of background editing in Photoshop and should work in older versions of the software too.
- This tool is one of the alternative eraser tools in the Photoshop toolbar menu that appears on the left side. You will need to press and hold the Eraser tool icon, then select the Background Eraser tool from the drop-down menu.
- You will need to change the sensitivity settings so that you can neatly cut the background out of the image. To do this, make sure the Background Eraser tool is selected and then click the settings icon in the menu at the top. This will present you with a drop-down menu containing options to control the eraser size, hardness, and tool tolerance.
- One of the most important parameters to change is the tolerance percentage, which is displayed in the top menu. A lower tolerance value will mean the eraser focuses on a denser set of colors, while a higher value will erase more colors at the same time. This gives more (or less) precision, depending on the background and image you are working with.
- You can also set the Sample parameter to Continuous for complex backgrounds. This means the color that Photoshop focuses on (and erases) the changes when you hold and move the eraser across the image. If you have a simpler image with fewer colors, you can set it to Intermittent or Find Edges instead.
- When you’re ready to start removing the background in Photoshop, carefully use the eraser to drag between the main object of the image (which you want to keep) and the background (which you are looking to remove). If the setting is correct, the background should start to wear off, but the subject will remain intact.
It will take some dexterity (and possibly trial and error) to successfully remove the background. If you’re having trouble with a more complex background, you might prefer the Select Theme tool instead.
Use Theme Selector to remove Photoshop backgrounds
The Select Theme tool is a recent addition to Photoshop’s toolbox that lets you choose the focus of an image. This is provided by built-in artificial intelligence technology that can help separate different elements of an image.
This is especially useful for background removal. Instead of manually removing the background, you can select the main subject of the image you want to keep to remove the background behind it.
- To use the Select Theme tool, make sure the Select tool is active in the Photoshop Toolbar menu on the left. Click the “Select and Mask” button in the top menu.
- In Select & Mask mode, click the Select Theme button. Built-in AI will automatically select the main subject of the image, with a preview shown on the left. Change the settings on the right (although the default settings should work for most users), then click OK on the right menu to confirm.
Upon confirmation, the background of the image detected by the Select Theme tool will be removed and replaced with a white background. Then you can replace the background to your liking.
Replace a background in Photoshop
You can replace the background of an image in Photoshop by removing the background and leaving it transparent. Then you can add a new layer to the image behind the main object to create a new background.
If you use the Select Theme tool, this automatically creates a background layer that you can edit or replace. This is the best method for replacing the background, but if you are using the Background Eraser or an alternative method to remove the background, you can add a new background layer in the same way.
- Start by clicking Select> Select and Mask to access the Select Subject tool. Once you’re in the Select & Mask menu, click Select Theme from the top menu.
- The default settings in the Select Theme menu should be acceptable to most users, but you can change them if you have problems. When ready, click OK to confirm.
- After removing the background, you can edit or insert a new background layer. The Layers tab will show a layer named Background. You can, for example, select this layer and use the Paint Bucket tool to replace the background color with a single color.
- If you want to delete a layer, right-click the background layer and select the Delete Layer option.
- You can then paste another image as a layer (saved in the clipboard) by clicking Layer> New> Layer By Copy. To create a completely empty layer, click New Layer instead.
- If you choose to paste an image into the clipboard as a layer, you will be prompted to name the layer first. Give the layer a name (for example, New Background), then click OK to confirm.
- If you want to create a completely new layer, you will also need to provide a name for this layer. Click “OK” to add the layer.
Then you can manipulate the newly inserted layer. By default, Photoshop should paste this into the bottom of the layered canvas. This means that the background layer will be placed below the main object, replacing the background of the previous image.
You can then make additional changes to this layer (for example, change the color or add new elements to it) using the Photoshop toolbar menu on the left.
Use alternative image editing tools
If you don’t have Photoshop installed, you can remove the background from a photo using an alternative photo editor. It can be tricky, but the free and open-source GIMP photo editor should do the job with the magic wand tool.
If you are a Mac user, you can use a free Mac photo editor like Photoscape X to remove background from a photo. If you’re having trouble with Photoshop, GIMP, or another photo editor, you can use an online service like Remove.bg to remove it.