The most common method to remove a background from an image involves a process called “masking,” in which certain portions of the image are manually outlined by the user. If you are not technologically advanced, or do not have a steady hand, this can be a very frustrating task. Luckily, for simple images, there exists a faster, easier, and less finicky method.
The first step, after opening the image, is to use the Quick Selection tool to select the item within the image that you want to isolate. If you select anything you did not want to select, remember that holding ALT when you click will allow you to deselect portions of the image. You will want to get this selection as accurate to the image’s outline as you possibly can, but Photoshop should do the majority of the work for you.
After you are finished, click on the button at the top of the program that says “refine edge.” Now you will be able to see any mistakes you made while using the Quick Selection tool—if there are any large ones, you will want to leave the Refine Edge dialogue and correct them now, and then return by clicking the “refine edge” button again.
Your next step will be to modify the Radius setting, towards the middle of the dialogue box. At this stage, your image outline will likely be very jagged and unnatural looking. Adjust the Radius slider slowly right, paying attention to the changes this is making in your image. This is especially necessary if you are trying to isolate an item with a soft outline, such as a subject with curly hair, or an animal with fur. This may not be necessary if you are isolating an item with already existing sharp edges, such as furniture or an automobile.
Once you are satisfied with your image’s outline, click on “OK.” You now have a couple of different options. You can isolate the image onto a flat color, by going to the “Select” menu and then clicking on “Inverse.” After this, press “Delete” on your keyboard. Under the “Use” selection box which appears, select either your background color or foreground color—this will isolate your image onto the color selected.
Alternatively, you can also copy the image by pressing “CTRL+P” on your keyboard, open another image, and then paste the image on top of it by pressing “CTRL+V.” This will move your image to another background entirely!
While masking may be necessary for more complex images, this is the fastest, easiest method of removing a background from an image in Photoshop CS5. With practice, you will be able to perform these steps within minutes.