Removing backgrounds from images can be tricky, especially if you want to maintain high image quality after removal. Fortunately, the following guide gives you a list of 7 simple steps that will help you through the process with minimal loss of image quality so that your original image remains as clear and crisp as possible.
Note: This is a guide for those who are already knowledgeable about using tools like Photoshop or are already into graphic designs.
Step 1: Prepare Your Image
Make sure your background is not too dark; otherwise, it’ll be hard to determine what’s in focus and what isn’t. Try to use a background with lots of subtle gradients and texture, as opposed to one that just features one uniform color or texture. If you want more guidance on choosing an image, check out our tutorial on Photo Selection for Stock Photos for some tips on picking good pictures for backgrounds. As you pick your image, don’t worry about removing it entirely yet; just try to avoid using a dark or blank-looking background. Once you have a photo picked, it’s time to move on to Step 2!
Step 2: Cut Out The Background
Now you’ll want to cut out your main subject from their background. If there are people in the photo, they may be easiest to remove first, so you can use that area of color as a guideline for cutting around your subject. There are many different ways to do this using Photoshop and other editing software; try searching Google for a “remove background photoshop tutorial” or check out YouTube for video tutorials if you want more hands-on instructions. With practice, it should only take a few minutes to complete. Once you have your subject separated from their background, move on to step 3.
Step 3: Adjust The Edges Of Your Cut-Out Photo
Once you have your new silhouette, you may need to adjust it. Maybe it cut off some hair or someone’s finger by accident. A simple drag of your curser will fix any mishaps like that. The tricky part is to know when to stop adjusting and simply call it a day. You don’t want to keep cutting till there is nothing left because then what is left has no more detail, but also, don’t be timid about making adjustments on areas where your background removal program may have missed some spots. These small details matter in a high-quality image. Once you are done with your adjustment step, Save As so that if you mess up, which often happens for beginners, you can try again from where you started instead of starting from scratch.
This method takes practice and time, but once you get it down pat, you’ll wonder why you wasted time using anything else. There are other methods, such as manually doing each spot with a paintbrush tool in an editing software package like Photoshop. However, I feel that approach is far too tedious for most people who want to remove backgrounds from photos quickly without losing quality. There is also another program called PhotoScissors which seems to do a great job at removing backgrounds without losing quality. However, I have not tried it yet, so I cannot say how well it works firsthand. If anyone has used PhotoScissors before, please leave feedback below!
Step 4: Increase The Contrast
At this point, your new layer should have a combination of pixel information from what’s left of your background and from your foreground object. We will use one more tool to help clean up our image by increasing its contrast. Start by selecting Levels. This lets you adjust each color channel so that blacks and whites are white (known as histogram equalization). It redistributes all pixels so that there is no discernible difference between them (hence equalized). Our goal is to make our foreground subject pop without losing any detail from our background area.
Adjusting these levels will allow us to do just that. Select your Red Channel and drag it slightly upward until you see some detail in your background area again. Then select Green Channel and drag it down until some elements appear in your foreground object again. Finally, choose Blue Channel and drag it slightly downward until everything looks good overall, with minimal noise or artifacts appearing throughout your image. You can also play around with adjusting individual RGB channels, if need be, at this point; however, I recommend leaving them alone unless you feel like things aren’t looking quite right after adjusting Red/Green/Blue Channels individually or if they look too oversaturated when combined into one RGB composite channel.
Step 5: Selectively Erase Unnecessary Elements On The Photo
By now, you should already have a background layer set. Then all you need to do is choose your magic wand tool and select an area you want to keep in focus while removing others. Set your foreground color to white (you can do it by pressing D on your keyboard), and then paint over the areas you want to remove. Remember: only remove what is unnecessary (you don’t have to remove everything). You can also experiment with different magic wand sizes for a more precise selection. After erasing, press Ctrl+D to deselect your image. Then merge down (Ctrl+E) your photo into one layer.
Step 6: Save Your Edit In Layers
The final step for removing background in images without losing quality is to save your image in layers. This is key so that if you mess up at a later stage, you can go back and adjust layers individually. Use Ctrl + S or Cmd + S to save your image when done with steps 1-5 of removing background in pictures without losing quality. If saving as JPG, choose a minimum 100 dpi resolution, and 72 dpi if saving as PNG (or GIF) file type. Make sure to keep all transparency effects on. Save your image using either 8-bit or 16-bit color depth options. Saving as 32 bits can cause issues with Photoshop opening an edited file.
Step 7: Adjust Background Brightness
The selection layer should be active by default—Right-click on it and select Alpha to Selection from the drop-down menu. Now make a new layer from the selection using the CTRL+J shortcut or going to layer>New>Layer Via Copy. This will create a new background layer from that area of the image you had selected earlier using Quick Mask Mode. Rename the background and remove color with Hue/Saturation (CTRL+U shortcut). Adjust the saturation level until you get the desired result.
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