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Quickly remove a solid color background from an image

When you download images of various objects from the web, they’ll often come with a solid white background. If you want to combine these objects with other images, you’ll need to remove the background. Luckily, Pixelmator Pro has just the tool for the job — the Smart Erase tool.

Step 1

Find an image with a background to remove

If you haven’t got one an already, you’ll need an image with a background to remove. The Smart Erase tool is best used for solid color backgrounds and the web is full of images of objects on backgrounds, most often white backgrounds. Open the image in Pixelmator Pro.

Step 2

Select and customize the Smart Erase tool

The Smart Erase tool is grouped together with the Erase tool. To select it, click the Erase tool once, then click it again to expand the group. You can also choose the Smart Erase tool from the Tools menu.

The Smart Erase tool has three options — Opacity, Sample All Layers, and Smooth Edges. The Opacity slider lets you adjust the transparency of the tool. Set this to 100%. Sample All Layers makes the Smart Erase tool take into account every layer in your composition. In this case, it’s not all that important whether the option is on or off and you’ll usually have it off. With Smooth Edges turned on, the edges of the erased areas are smoothed to make the object blend in more naturally in other images. Leave this option on.

Smart Erase options

OpacityAdjusts the transparency of the Smart Erase tool. At 100%, areas are erased completely. With lower settings, areas become only partially transparent.

Sample All LayersWith this option selected, the Smart Erase tool takes into account every single layer in your image, although it erases only the selected layer.

Smooth EdgesNaturally smooths the edges of erased areas. Turning this option off erases edge pixels completely, resulting in a little more precision but a with jagged look.

Step 3

Erase the background

To erase an area, move the pointer over the area you’d like to remove, then hold down the mouse and drag. The Tolerance label shows you how much of any similar colors the Smart Erase tool will erase. With most color backgrounds, you’ll need to drag so that the Tolerance reaches around 20%, sometimes a little more. It’s best to look at the areas where the object touches the background and see if any traces of the background color are left. At 100% Tolerance, everything is erased. After removing the main background, make sure to remember to remove any parts of it inside objects by following the same steps.

Saving with transparency

If you want to save this image and keep its background transparent, make sure to save it in the PXD file format or export it to a format that supports transparency — PNG, TIFF, or PSD. In this case, PNG is most likely the best and most popular option, especially if you’ll be using the image on the web.

Step 4

Use the object in another image

Now, you can combine the object with another image. Simply choose Edit > Copy.

Then, open your other image and choose Edit > Paste.

And that’s how you quickly remove a solid color background from an image. Try out these steps and, if you have any questions, make sure to ask below!