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How to Turn Background Transparent in Photoshop

How to Turn Background Transparent in Photoshop

In this section we will introduce you how to turn the background transparent in Photoshop.

You want to make the background transparent in different occasions, such as creating a composite or inserting illustration. Professionals often use this technique.We will see how we can make the background transparent as well as saved files.

1. Set Background Transparent when Creating New File

This is a technique to make the background transparent initially. This is ideal when you know you want to make the background transparent from the beginning.

Step01 Set the Canvas Color Transparent

Select New and display new dialog box. Set the canvas color transparent and click OK.

Transparent Background Is Generated!

Now you have a transparent background! The only thing you need to do is creating object over it.

You can see that the layer is not a background layer but a regular layer.(Retaled Articles:Know the Basic of Photoshop Layer)

2. Turn Background Transparent with Magic Eraser Tool

If you are in the middle of work, use Magic Eraser Tool. Magic Eraser Tool turns the clicked pixel and ones with similar color transparent with a click. First, let’s see the case where the background is in single color.

Step01 Select Background Layer and Use Magic Eraser Tool

1) Select the background layer 2) select Magic Eraser Tool and 3) click anywhere on the canvas.

Background Turned Transparent!

The background turned transparent! It was easy, wasn’t it?

3. Turn Complex Background Transparent

We will see how we can turn the complex background like below. We will also use Magic Eraser Tool but we will add some twist.

Step01 Change Setting in Tool Bar

Like in Step02, select the background layer and select Magic Eraser Tool. Raise the acceptable value in the tool bar and uncheck [Adjacence].

The greater the acceptance value, the greater the range to be removed.

Step02 Click Background Several Times with Magic Eraser Tool

You cannot erase everything one shot so click Magic Eraser Tool several times. If it doesn’t work well, adjust the acceptance value.

Complex Background Turned Transparent!

Now the complex background turned transparent.

If you cannot erase everything with Magic Erase Tool, remove the remaining part with Eraser Tool.

4. Save Image while Keeping Background Transparent

We have seen how to turn the background transparent; this time we will introduce file formats that you can retain transparent background. Not all files can retain transparency. Below is the sum-up of the file formats.

Reference: File Formats That Retain Transparency
File Format Extension Description
GIF .gif It retains transparency when saved. It has 256 colors and is ideal to save illustrations. File size is lighter than PNG.
PNG .png It retains transparency when saved. It has 16,870,000 colors and is ideal to save pictures and gradients that GIF cannot handle. The number of colors is much greater than GIF, however, the size would be much bigger.
Photoshop .psd .pdd This is an initial file format when creating a file in Photoshop. It retains transparency obviously but in order to publish it online, you need to transform it into GIF or PNG.

Note that JPEG does not retain transparency when saving.

(The JPEG successor JPEG2000 can retain transparency. However, also note that you need to install an optional plug-in to use JPEG2000 with previous versions of Photoshop CS4.)

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