There are different methods to remove the background of an image, in each tutorial we will work from the simplest to the most complicated. In this  tutorial we’ll use the Magic wand.

This method is functional if we have a uniform background and the figure does not contain complicated edges.

In this example we will use the image of a pelican against a blue background (the sky).


Step 1

Duplicate the background layer for a new place to work and to have a backup of the original image.

Step 2

We click the eye of the background layer to hide it

Step 3

Select the magic wand and select a 32 in tolerance. This range may be increased or reduced depending on the different range of background colors. A greater variation increases the number, a less variation like a white background decreases.

Step 4

Having selected the magic wand we give a click on the sky.

Step 5

In this particular case select the entire background was selected in one click

Step 6

If our tolerance was lower for example 15 and only we only select a portion of the sky, we may add sections to the mask by pressing shift while clicking on wherever we have no selection, so new parts are added to the mask.

using the Magic Wand

Step 7

To refine the edges we will do two things: a) top menu: select / modify / feather and give 5 pixels. b) Expanding the selection of the background so we don’t have a blue border, on the top menu: select / modify / expand this time 1 pixel.

Step 8

Now we’ll just delete and remove the selection.

using the Magic Wand

Step 9

Now we can use any other image for the background, in this particular case I substituted the sky with a different picture that stands out more.

In the next tutorial we’ll see how to remove a background using the lasso.

If you have suggestions that could improve this tutorial we expect your comment.

Related content:

How to remove objects from an image: content aware fill

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Javier Cantero

Javier Cantero