November 23, 2021

Major update adds AI-powered background removal to Pixelmator Pro

Not even a full month since our last major update, we’re bringing you another huge update with some truly amazing new features. Pixelmator Pro 2.3 – codenamed Abracadabra (because it’s totally magical) – brings a new automatic background removal feature, automatic subject selection, a new Select and Mask tool, and more. Not just that, starting today, Pixelmator Pro is also going on sale for 50% off!

Magic Background Eraser

With today’s update, you can now magically remove the background from any image with just a click. We’ve trained a convolutional neural network to find the subject in pretty much any image and automatically remove its background. In fact – we’ve created three separate machine learning models to each do its little bit of magic. If you’d like to learn more about where to find this feature, we’ve got a super quick tutorial on it that you might enjoy.

Built-In Quick Action

In addition to being available in Pixelmator Pro itself, the Remove Background feature is also available in the Finder app as a Quick Action!

Decontaminate Colors

When you remove the background from an image, the object left behind can often have traces of the previous background around its edges. The (AI-powered) Decontaminate Colors feature automatically removes these traces so objects blend seamlessly with any new background. Although this is usually done automatically when it makes sense, you can also apply it yourself to any layer – even ones that have been cut out in other apps.

Select Subject

Another totally magical new feature is automatic subject selection – with just a click, you can make a selection of the subject of any image. And if you’d like to refine that selection down to the tiniest detail, we’ve also got a…

Select and Mask Tool

To make it possible to make incredibly accurate selections of any object, we’ve created a new Select and Mask tool. This is designed to make it easy to select the most difficult areas of all – hair, fur, and similar objects with very complex edges. Here, you’ll find a completely redesigned Smart Refine feature and other tools that make it a breeze to select even the most challenging areas of an image. To help you get the most out of this tool, we’ve got a great tutorial on it – check it out on our YouTube channel.

Smart Refine

If you have a rough – or even quite accurate selection – you can refine it automatically using the totally redesigned Smart Refine feature. Again, with just a single click, you can go from a rough outline to a perfect selection.

Refine Edge Brush

For anyone who wants absolutely pixel-perfect selections of every single area in an image, we’ve added a Refine Edge Brush. This brush is designed to be used specifically on tricky edge areas – create accurate selections of those areas by simply brushing over them.

How the magic happens

All this is powered by a set of machine learning algorithms that we’ve spent the last 12 months developing. Because Pixelmator Pro does much more than just simple background removal, we decided to create three algorithms – one for detecting the subjects of images, one for refining selection edges, and one for decontaminating the colors at the edges of objects. If you’d like a closer look at how this all works – read on!

Step 1: Find the subject of the image

First, we need to find the subject of the image. In the comparison below, the image on the left is the original and the one on the right shows the mask created by the subject detection feature. In this case, the mask is already pretty accurate but the edges aren’t fully refined.

Original image

Mask created by subject selection algorithm

Step 2: Refine the edges of the selection

The next step involves refining the edges of the selection. The image on the left shows what the mask looks like after the subject selection algorithm has done its magic and the one on the right shows what the selection looks like after it’s been processed by the edge refinement algorithm. Much better!

Selection after subject selection

Selection after subject selection and selection refinement

Step 3: Decontaminate the colors at the object’s edges

The last thing we need to do is decontaminate the colors at the edges of the object. This is actually a massively important step – without it, the object wouldn’t blend naturally with backgrounds of different colors. In this comparison, we’ve changed the background so you can see what the image would look like both with and without color decontamination.

Without color decontamination

With color decontamination

These new features are going to completely transform pretty much every image editing and photography workflow in Pixelmator Pro, so we’re incredibly excited to be able to share them with you. The update is totally free for existing Pixelmator Pro users and on sale for 50% off for anyone who doesn’t yet have a copy. Visit the Mac App Store to make sure you’re all up to date and enjoy all the additions!

Download Now

The update includes some other little things, like the ability to specify custom export sizes and scales in the Export dialog. For all the details, check out our Updates page. And lastly, although 2021 is drawing to a close and we’ve shipped some really fantastic updates this year, we’ve got a few more surprises under our belt. Stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks!