From a simple headshot for your passport to product photography for your online store, there are many times when you might want to isolate the subject of your snaps. So, how do you remove the background?
In the past, this was a job for an experienced editor using expensive desktop software. Thankfully, times have changed.
Today, there are many apps that offer background removal as a feature. The most intuitive tools can be found on mobile devices, and some even allow you to cut out your subject with a quick swipe.
In this post, we’re going to look at the easiest way to remove the background from any image — from capturing your photo through to applying the final polish.
Background removal is an editing technique where the subject of a photo is separated from the background. The idea is to remove any possible distractions or imperfections.
Even if you’re new to photo editing, you will probably be familiar with background removal if you ever shop online.
You know when you visit an online store, and you see a pair of sneakers apparently floating in mid air, in front of a perfect backdrop? That is background removal at work.
The photographer has captured the subject, and then used digital tools to remove the original background. In some cases, they will then replace that original backdrop with something new.
Product photography isn’t the only use case for background removal.
This technique is used in many other genres including portrait, fashion, and lifestyle photography. Some landscape photographers even use background removal to enhance the natural scenes they capture.
In some scenarios, it might be obvious why you would want to throw away your photo background. But there may be some other use cases you haven’t considered.
Here are some of the many good reasons why you might want to remove the background of your photos.
Even if you deploy a specially designed backdrop, it might not be perfect. For instance, it only takes someone to walk across a pristine white sheet for dirty marks to appear. And if you’re aiming for flawless beauty, a background smudge is definitely going to detract from your image.
Of course, you may be shooting without a backdrop at all. In these circumstances, being able to cut away any mess can add some professional polish to your photography.
While a plain white background will never let you down, it can look a bit... meh. Using a background removal tool, you can easily spice things up.
You could replace the original backdrop with an image background — fashion photography on a tropical island, anyone? You could also choose a background color that better suits your subject, like a cool blue for bright yellow flowers.
Of course, there are times when you might want to cut out the subject of your photo and save the PNG file with no background at all. This is particularly useful when creating a product website, where the image can blend in seamlessly with your design.
If you choose an image editor like Pixelcut, removing the background of an image might be just the first step in your creative process.
With the subject of your photo isolated, it’s possible to add in brand new elements to create a digital collage or even an eye-catching gif!
As discussed earlier, there are many ways to remove the background of a photo. But which are your best options? Here are three common methods compared:
By far the most convenient and affordable way to remove backgrounds is by using a specialized editing app, like Pixelcut. With a tap and a swipe, you can snap a photo and remove the background in seconds.
You then have the option of editing your image further, with new backgrounds, text inserts, and stickers. Once your masterpiece is complete, the app even lets you upload directly to your social media or online store.
Just as importantly, it’s completely free to try.
As an alternative, it’s definitely possible to cut out the background of an image using your favorite photo editing software. Apps like Adobe Photoshop on Windows and Mac, and Canva online, offer tools that can handle the task. Many professional photographers go down this route.
The main downsides here are usability and cost. Photoshop is a beast, and you may need some training just to find the relevant tools. Beginners often feel overwhelmed, and even editors with more experience can struggle to produce realistic results at times. There is also Adobe’s pricey subscription to consider.
Canva is less complex, but it’s not specifically designed for removing backgrounds, and the Pro version is almost as expensive as Photoshop.
Some product photographers prefer to hand off background removal to a paid editor.
This route makes a lot of sense if you’re trying to roll out thousands of pixel-perfect photos for big brands. Professional editors are highly skilled at removing and replacing backgrounds, and making the final image look completely untouched. Small details, such as keeping the original drop shadow, can make a subtle difference to the end result.
That said, this approach is probably overkill for most people. Professional editors ask a fair price for their work, and the cost per image goes up when you only have a few shots that need working on.
In the title of this blog post, we promised to deliver the easiest way to remove the background from an image. So, that’s what we’re going to do.
All you need for getting started is the person or item you want to photograph, and the Pixelcut app downloaded onto your phone. Here’s our 3-step tutorial:
You can work with any image in Pixelcut. However, it’s generally much quicker to use the built-in camera. On the opening screen of the app, you can find this option in the top toolbar.
The next step is to think about your technique. As you line up your image, try to keep the subject fairly central. This will help the app to identify your subject.
Light is another important factor. The background eraser tool usually does a great job of seeing where your subject ends and the background begins — but poor light can slow things down. So, where possible, make sure the subject is well lit.
In most cases, removing the background of an image in Pixelcut takes just one swipe. Our technology automatically works out what you’re trying to highlight, so very little editing input is required.
By swiping left and right, you can easily check the before and after. Your chosen subject should remain, while the background just disappears into an endless array of gray squares. Beautiful.
In the unlikely event that you see anything missing from the cut-out, or any background that is sneaking through, just tap Refine.
On the next screen, you have two editing tools: Erase lets you scrub away any parts of the background that got missed, while Restore lets you redefine the edge of your main subject. The little sun icon on the left lets you switch between dark and light masks for a clearer view.
Once you’re done with this selection tool, just tap the check mark and you’re ready to save!
There’s a good chance that removing the background of the image is just the start of your editing journey. Pixelcut provides you with all the tools you need to explore.
After you cut out your subject, the app allows you to quickly resize the canvas, switch out the background for a solid color or image, add a drop shadow, insert text and stickers, and more.
Pixelcut also offers one-tap templates for IG stories, profile photos, and eBay listings. You can even create animations, if you want.
Once you are satisfied with your work, you can upload images to your favorite apps with a couple of taps. It’s a pretty smooth workflow.
Want to give it a try? Download Pixelcut today to join more than five million small businesses and entrepreneurs already using the app!
Join more than 10 million small businesses, creators and entrepreneurs that use Pixelcut to grow their business.