Backgrounds - Clean Removal?

September 21, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

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Removing a Background Outside of an Editing Program

For those who have worked in an image processing program for many years, removing a background has not always been easy. Most editing programs have tools such as the magic wand, but tools like this are limited to simple backgrounds, and even then are not completely reliable. 

Photoshop has long had tools such as the Pen tool, or even the polygonal lasso tool. Making selections with these tools can certainly be tedious and often require a layer masks and the refine edge tool in order to clean up a selection. The results were often good, but certainly took time and patience to make a clean selection and place it into a new image.

Almost any editing program can make a reasonable selection of an object assuming that the background is plain and contrast sufficiently with the subject. Take a look at the first image above, and the background is anything but plain. Reds, greens, shadows, dark colors surround the chair, although probably the most challenging part of a selection would be near the base of the chair.

I put the latest release of photoshops auto selection to the test by first opening the image, choosing the magic wand tool, and then select image.  

Photoshop made a reasonably good selection as seen in the second image automatically. However, if you look closely the selection included part of the ground where the chair was sitting. Overall, not too much of a problem which can be cleaned up fairly quickly.

The third image was made through a website called  The site operates fairly simply by uploading an image that you choose, and after a few seconds a image appears as what your selection may look like.  You may actually download a low resolution JPEG of the results. The third image above is a sample of the same chair on a cluttered background. As you can see, the results are pretty decent. It did not get the support stand for the chair, but overall a clean selection. If you want a higher resolution image the site offers a per image charge of $1.99 per image (1 credit), Pay as you go option (up to 500 images for 40 cents per image), or even a subscription plan. The JPEG has a transparent background so that you could even import the image into a presentation program such as Powerpoint without ever opening your image editing program, or of course you could import it into your favorite program and add a new background.

This website is certainly a viable option that could speed workflow, especially for those working on desktop publishing projects.





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