1. Technology

Tools and Techniques for Removing Backgrounds

Knock it Out!


Erasing the Background

Erasing the Background | View Larger

© S. Chastain (Photo from Pixabay)

Previously, I wrote an article on removing backgrounds from images. That article was more of an overview of various approaches that were available rather than specific techniques. It served to show you that there's more than one way to get the job done, and there's never a one-size-fits-all magic formula. While the subject for this article is similar, this time, I'd like to get specific with the various techniques and tools that are available to you, and hopefully help you understand why and when you should use one method over another. I'm sure I couldn't possibly cover every possible approach for every type of image, so if you have a favorite method of your own, you're encouraged to share your favorite techniques in the discussion forum.

An Overview of Corel KnockOut
Formerly known as Ultimatte KnockOut, this product was once only available for the Macintosh platform. It was recently purchased by Corel and ported to the Windows platform. It's a standalone product that offers superior masking capabilities in a surprisingly simple interface. Click the link to check out my overview and examples.
More: Masking and Compositing Software

Removing Backgrounds with Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop offers a wide variety of tools for removing backgrounds. I'll walk you through a few of my favorite methods for pulling objects out of their backgrounds with Photoshop. Includes step-by-step tutorials for using the background eraser tool, channel masks, the magnetic lasso tool, the pen tool, and combining several techniques for making more complex selections.

Removing Backgrounds with Corel Photo-Paint
Photo-Paint includes a couple of unique tools for removing backgrounds. I'll walk you through step-by-step tutorials using the transparent color selection tool, channels, and clip masks. Also includes an overview of the scissor tool and the path tool.

Removing Backgrounds with Paint Shop Pro
Paint Shop Pro 6 does not have many specialty tools for isolating complex objects; however, there are a few unique approaches to removing backgrounds that might not be obvious to the average user. I'll walk you through two of these techniques using channels and masks, and I'll show you how to make and refine complex selections with the Smart Edge option for the lasso tool.

Eliminate It!
Learn about three free plug-in filters that can make removing backgrounds a breeze no matter what graphics software you use. These filters are excellent for removing black and white backgrounds and for creating various effects.

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