Removing the Backgound ... not as easy at it may seem.

I sometimes get requests to tutor in a particular design software where the goal is actually assistance toward a specific task as opposed to general education of that software. More often than not, this task has something to do with using Photoshop to remove a background or to cut someone out of a picture and place him in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The truth of the matter is that the task of removing a background or copying a person from one photograph into another may seem simpler to do than meets the eye. Certainly this seems a reasonable assumption because we see it done all the time or, in the very least, hear reference to it. We have likely seen it more often without even realize we have seen it because it was executed so well.

I think the main reason many people think it would be an easy task because they are visualizing the real life setting. If you are sitting at your dining room table and I don't want you in the picture, I simply ask you to step out of the room and I am left with the empty furniture. In the image that is in front of you, it is a series of inanimate pixels. Even the mighty Photoshop does not know what is background and what is foreground (although sometimes it can make and educated guess). If you take out pixels - such as taking you out of the dining room in the picture - you will be left with a hole, not the dining room chair that would have been behind you. Consideration has to be given to the fineness of the hair or the complexity of what is in the background or the fuzziness of the image. There is no quick fix.

If this is your desire, it is certainly possible and we can work toward that goal. However, keep in mind that there is no magic "remove Betty Sue from this photo and place her in front of the candy store in the other photo" button. There are a myriad of tools, techniques and processes available to you. Which one or ones you use will depend upon the complexity of the task at hand, the desired quality of results, your knowledge and expertise, and your own personal preferences and workflow.

In the end, what you may be asking for will more than likely require more than just one session - for even the professionals have taken years to master it. We may not even be able to address your specific task. We can point you to the vary tools and options you can have at your fingertips. But it will be up to you to take it from there. The more you already know about Photoshop, the more efficient our time together and the more you will be able to take with you.

Maybe we will see you soon in front of the Eiffel Tower or the fireplace or wherever you have copy and pasted yourself.


Ian S.

Patient and Knowledgeable Adobe Software Tutor/Instructor

200+ hours
if (isMyPost) { }