Removing Objects from
Backgrounds in Photoshop


To create a composite image, with two or more elements added in layers, we often need to remove an object from its background to add it to our composite image. Let's look at several ways to do this:

Transparent Backgrounds

We'll start by making the background transparent.

    Click for larger image
  1. Click the popcorn image to the right to see the larger version, then right-click it and save it on your computer.
  2. Open it in Photoshop.
  3. Save as a PSD.
  4. Double-click the Background layer and re-name it to unlock it.
  5. Click the Create a new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel.
  6. A new, transparent layer (shown as a "checkerboard") will appear above the layer containing the popcorn image. Click the layer and drag it below the popcorn layer.
  7. Make sure the popcorn layer is selected.
  8. Select the Magic Wand Tool and click the white background of the popcorn image. You should see "ants" running around the outside of the popcorn image.
  9. What if I didn't get all of the background?

    If the Magic Wand selected almost all of the background, try choosing
    Select > Similar to select pixels that are very close in color to the background.
  10. popcorn
    Image with background deleted
    Press the [Delete] key. The background of the image should disappear, showing the checkerboard pattern in its place.
  11. Choose File > Save for Web & Devices.
  12. Make sure that GIF is selected for the file type, and that the Transparency box is checked.
  13. Click Save and give the image a new filename.
  14. To use the transparent popcorn image, open the image you wish to use it in, with Photoshop.
  15. Open the transparent popcorn GIF image.
  16. Press [Ctrl] [A] to select the entire image, then [Ctrl] [C] to copy it.
  17. In the other image, create a new layer, then press [Ctrl] [V] to paste the popcorn image into the new layer.

Select Part of an Image, with the Lasso Tool

  1. Lasso toolOpen an image in Photoshop.
  2. Save as a PSD.
  3. Double-click the Background layer and re-name it to unlock it.
  4. Choose the object or area that you wish to select and use in another image, and zoom in on it with the Zoom Tool.
  5. Choose the Lasso Tool and draw an outline around the object. You should see a pattern of "ants" around the area selected.
  6. Press [Ctrl] [C] to copy the selected area.
  7. Open the image where you wish to use the selection.
  8. In the new image, create a new layer, then press [Ctrl] [V] to paste the selection into the new layer.