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Thread: Photoshop - How to remove white background

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Shropshire, UK

    Photoshop - How to remove white background


    Very often I want to remove the white backgound from images I buy and put them on another colour or save as transparent.

    I have used the magic wand to remove the white but i always find that around the edges there is a little whitever pale gray whcih then makes them look poor quality - especially if Im going to reuse on a dark background. Also sometimes the background is not just around the outside, it goes in and out of the image (as an example I just bought an ornate scroll to edge a website and the white is in every nook and crany).

    Please help - Im sure there must be an easy way to do this but I cant find it in the help files.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The best way to cut an image out perfectly is to outline the item with the pen tool. This way you draw the outline around the object and cut it out. You then have complete control of how smooth you want the image is. The downfall of this is that it takes a lot of time to do this on complicated shapes.

    To get a quicker cut out, use the magic wand and play with the tolerance values to allow more similar color values to be picked up by the wand. The default is 32, a higher number will select more colors, and a smaller number will select less.

    After you select the white color, and delete it, if you see there is still that annoying white line, you can go to modify selection and pick increase selection size by 1 pixel, then hit delete. This should get ride of that outline.

  3. #3
    Hey Lizzy:

    Another option is to take your image and create a second layer behind it that has the fill color that you are wanting. For example, if you were going to drop your image onto a black background, place a black background behind it. Then select the original image layer, and change the blending mode. Depending on what version of photoshop you're using, you'll need to play with the specific blending mode. (In CS3 I think "Darker Color" is closest to what you're wanting), (in CS2 it might be "Lighten, or "multiply").

    This is assuming you have some experience with Photoshop, I apologize but it's impossible to tell from these short questions.

    A third option would be to use "alpha channels". That way you have a layered file that retains the original data if you ever need to go back to it for anything. There's an excellent short example at http://www.axialis.com/tutorials/tutorial-misc001.html

    Hope this helps.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    New Jersey, US
    both suggestions are pretty good... there's always a million ways to do something though... let me add a few more.

    when using the magic wand, if you hit 'Q', you'll get a the image outlined in red (the red part is the selection). here, you can use the brush tool to modify the selection - using the color black and 'painting' with the brush will add to the selection, while using white will remove from it. play with it - it's pretty cool.

    - or -

    you can also use the 'color picker' if the background isn't pure white, make sure you do a 1x1 selection, the you can add and remove colors as you wish with the + and - tool.... i don't feel like opening photoshop right now so that i can explain in more detail - but if you'd like i'll explain better later on...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by dtm32236

    when using the magic wand, if you hit 'Q', you'll get a the image outlined in red (the red part is the selection). here, you can use the brush tool to modify the selection - using the color black and 'painting' with the brush will add to the selection, while using white will remove from it. play with it - it's pretty cool.


    Awesome tip! Thanks, I'll surely make good use of this.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    New Jersey, US
    Yeah, it's good stuff...
    The tool is in the bottom left - its a circle inside of a square or something. I forget what it's called.

    Also be aware of the Save Selection tool (under the Select menu) and how to save Paths (when creating an outline with the pen tool). You'll find them pretty useful too.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Bucharest, ROMANIA
    That Q is the Quick Mask shortcut. It can be applied to any kind of selection, not only to the Magic Wand... It is nothing but creating a mask...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Shropshire, UK
    Thanks everyone. I will have a go at all these things and see which I can manage best. I have to admit Ive been using Photoshop for years but always felt I've never got far into all that it can do.

    Thanks again

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Bathurst, NSW, Australia
    You can make a feather on the edges to soften them.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    NW Washington State
    Sound like lots of good ideas. After your selection is made and on its own layer, you might also play with the Layer / Matting / Defringe (or Remove Matting). This can help take off a little of the unwanted edge.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    How to cut off this?

    I've try with color range and it does not work.
    There are some white dust around image and gone terrible when I use color overlay on it.


    Please help to cut off this.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    That image you linked to is very easy to remove the white background. Since it is a black and white image you can simply turn the image into a mask.

    1. Open the image and cut it into your clipboard (Ctrl+A to select then Ctrl+X to cut). This should leave you with an empty layer and the graphic stored in your clipboard.

    2. Fill this layer completely black and then create a mask for it.

    3. Alt+click on the layer mask to edit the mask and then paste the contents of your clipboard into the mask.

    4. It should paste guy on the horse in the mask with the character being black and the background white. We need to invert this so with your layer mask selected press ctrl+i to invert.

    5. Get out of your layer mask and now the character should be completely cutout.

    (optional) if you notice editing or distortion around the character, go back to your mask and open the level pallet(ctrl+L). Adjust the levels until it removes excess from the edges.

    Black and white images like this are very simple to cutout.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Oh! I can do it now.
    Thank you very much

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    if the background is white, just set the layer style to multiply, and color the new color on a layer below it.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Go back to your Photoshop psd file, select the white background layer

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