Monday, February 20, 2012

Getting rid of those ugly backgrounds with or how to make a transparent background

Do you have any of those photos with a less than desirable background?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!  You know the kind.  You took a beautiful picture of the cake only to notice later that the coffee maker and toaster were in the shot.  How dare they try to sneak in there with your beautiful cake!  I finally have a solution.  Why not remove that pesky background all together.  That way nothing can upstage your masterpiece. A transparent background is really great when you are trying to put your cake pictures on a brochure or business card.

I found out a few weeks ago that the online software that I had been using to edit my photos is no longer going to be available.  Bye, bye Picnik.  That sent me searching for an alternative.  I know that Photoshop is very popular, but it can be a bit pricey.  I'm not willing to drop that kind of cash on my little hobby just yet.  Enter  I have read from some other bloggers that it works pretty well so I decided to give it a try.  After all, it's free.

My first look at was a little intimidating.  I'm not even close to learning all of its capabilities just yet.  Here's a completely un-edited cake picture.  It gives you a great look at my kitchen counter tops but is a little too busy for my cake.

Start by pulling down the tool menu.  Select the magic want tool.

Now click somewhere on the background of the picture.  This will highlight an area that the program considers to be the same color value.  You can adjust the sensitivity of this tool by changing the tolerance percentage.  This adjustment can only be found when the magic wand is activated and is located to the right of the tool button.  The more uniform the background is, the easier this job will be.  Once an area has been highlighted, check to make sure that none of the cake is highlighted.  Now, click on the little scissor button.

Everything that was highlighted gets erased.  The checkerboard area indicates that area is transparent.  The complicated color texture of my counter top makes this a little more challenging.  If your background is all the same color then you're probably already done.  To clean up any left over background you could use the magic wand again and cut out more areas.  Especially if the leftovers are fairly large, this is a good way to go.

With most backgrounds there is some background that is best removed with an eraser.  Switch tools by clicking on the eraser in the tool menu.  You can adjust the size of your eraser by changing the brush width.  This step can take a little patience.

There, now that the picture is all cleaned up, it's time to save.  Make sure you click on "save as".  Here is the most important part of this whole process.  You have to save it as a PNG file.  All of the other picture file types(bmp, jpg) will not support a transparent background and all your work will be wasted.

Here's the final result!

Happy editing,



  1. Good job thank you
    And if you want you can get a free tutorials for photoshop here

  2. Those apps can be really handy. But I don't think it's a great deal to find goods photo editors for Windows phone like Macphun. I've had some major problems finding them for my Mac, so now I share them kindly.