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photoshop remove white backgroundYou can use Photoshop to remove a white background, it is easy. You can also use Photoshop to do just the opposite with a photo that needs the background turned white. The method is the same. If you are new to learning Photoshop, you should probably take a class in order to learn it quickly. You can waste a lot of time when you don’t know what you’re doing. You can discover a lot of cool things by floundering around in Photoshop, but if you need to know how to learn the software fast, then taking an online Photoshop class is a must. If you already know Photoshop a little bit, you can take an online class to learn new Photoshop tricks.

This tutorial will show you how to remove the part of the image that you want and paste it onto a colored background. You can also use an partially opaque background or a completely transparent background for your new image. It is easy to lift off that part of the image you want and put it onto another photo or create a new .jpg with it. The tabloids have been doing it for decades! Those celebrity tabloids were doing a lot cutting and pasting of photos back in the early days to show the celebrity doing things that they were not really doing.  Now you can discover how they did this sort of thing.


How to Remove a White Background from a Photo

Here is a photo with a plain background. It isn’t exactly white, but how you do this is the same way as if it were white.


Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop

The first thing you need to do is to isolate the subject of the photo. To do this, use the Quick Selection Tool. Click on the Quick Selection Tool and then look at the top of the screen in Photoshop. You will see what looks like little paint brushes but one has a + sign, another a – sign, etc. You should click on the + sign. This + sign allows you to add parts of the image to your selection. The – sign will set it to take away things from the selection. You will find that you will usually use both off and on when you are selecting the subject.


Now put your mouse on the outside of the image and drag it around. You will see that it automatically selects your subject. So right now what you have selected is everything between the subject and the edge of the photo.

Adjusting the Quick Selection Tool


If you look carefully, you can see that the shadow is in the selected area. If you would like to remove the shadow on the bottom of the shirt from the selected area, you can go back to the top of the screen and select the – sign. Then drag the edge of the selection to the shadow. You might have to go back and forth between the + and – signs to get it just right. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, you can do some clean up later.

How to Select Your Background Color


Now select a color by clicking on your background color. A little screen will pop up. Your cursor is now an eyedropper tool that you can use to select a color from the photo. If you don’t want to do that then you can select any color on the color screen.


Click OK when you are done picking a color for the background.

Fill the Image with the New Background Color at 25% Opacity


Next, go to the top of the screen and click Edit then click Fill. A little screen will pop up. Select Use – Background Color. You can  use a pattern to fill your background also, if you like. If you click on pattern you will see some examples. For Blending Mode select normal. For Opacity select 25%. Click OK.


You will see it turned the background your color and it is a little bit transparent so that you can still see the tag on the upper left portion of the screen. Hold down the Ctrl button and hit the letter D, to get rid of the selection area.

Clean Up the Image With the Eraser Tool

There is some cleaning up you need to do around that shadow, so click on the eraser tool from the toolbar and erase any portion of that messiness around the shadow. The eraser will automatically use the background color to fill in the white spots. You can change the background color by clicking on that and selecting a new color for the background if you need to.

How to Enlarge the Photo in the Workspace


It does help a lot to go to the little box in the lower left corner to enlarge the photo. Click on that box and change it to 200%. It will be easier to use your eraser tool to clean up the white spots now. If you need to blend in the background color changes you can use your spot healing tool to blend.

Now you are done with using Photoshop to remove the white background. But, if you don’t want a partially opaque background or pattern then you can do something more interesting with your background.


Pasting Your Subject Onto Another Image

Use the Quick Selection Tool to select the subject the same way you did before.

Now you are going to do something different. You need to select just the opposite of what the tool has selected. Go to the top of the screen and click on Select. From the drop down menu, select Inverse. You will see that it is now selecting only the subject that you want to keep.


You want to lift that image off of this photo and move it to another one now. So, hold down the Ctrl button and click the letter C. This will copy that selected image to your clipboard.

Select a New Background Color


First set your background color by clicking on the background color selection on the left side of your screen. When you click on the background color square, the color selection screen will pop up so that you can select a different color.

Create a New Image with Ctrl N

Hold down the Ctrl button and click the letter N. This will bring up a new image screen. On that screen you create your new image. This is the image that you will end up with in the end. You are going to place your copied subject onto this new image. Fill in the width and height sizes you want your finished .jpg to be. Go to Background Content and select Background Color. This will give your image whatever color your background is set to. Click OK. Now you have a new image that is only your background color.

Use Ctrl V to Paste Your Old Image to the New Image

Hold down your Ctrl key and click the letter V and your copied subject will appear on your new image.


Make Your Photo Have a Transparent Background

But what if you want to remove the white background and have it transparent? Then when you do Ctrl N and fill out the information for your new image, don’t select the colored background. Instead you will select transparent as the background contents. This will give you a completely transparent background that makes it easy to use on the web for any webpage. All you will see is the image of that shirt and there will not be anything behind it except where you place the image. If you place that image on top of a pink banner, then the shirt will be on pink. If you put it on top of a black web page, then the shirt will be on black.


There is an awful lot to learn with Photoshop. For instance, you can add another photo or even draw on your image by using new additional layers to your photo. For more information on Photoshop Layers and how to use them take an online class. For more advanced Photoshop training you can take a Photoshop class on selections and masks. Masks allow you to really fine tune your graphics.

Using Photoshop to Remove a White Background

You can use Photoshop to remove a white background and leave it transparent or put another image or color in its place. It is really easy to do once you know how. For further learning with Photoshop you can take a Photoshop class or an advanced Photoshop class for digital painting.

Page Last Updated: April 2014

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