Practical Ecommerce

Video Tutorial: Removing Backgrounds from Product Images

View Tutorial Look, we aren’t all great photographers, and even those out there that do manage to take spectacular photos still need to clean up their images a bit before putting them online. Product images can be one of the most important factors influencing whether or not potential customers make a purchase from an online store. In an ideal world, we would all have access to a small photo studio with backdrops, lighting, and everthing else needed to take great photos.

But this is the real world, and the reality is that product images often need to be cleaned up in Photoshop before they can be used online. Running and online store is not terribly conducive to mastering Photoshop and other image editing software, particularly since these are immensely powerful applications that have a steep learning curve. In this tutorial, we will be looking at some techniques for removing unwanted backgrounds from a product photo, and also a few quick tricks for making your images stand out. As anyone that manages an online store can tell you, image manipulation can be a daunting and overwhelming task, and hopefully this tutorial will make the job seem a little easier, if not more fun.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CS2

View Tutorial

This video tutorial requires Flash Player version 8 or above. Please forward us your ideas for additional video tutorials, via our Contact Us form.

Brian Getting

Brian Getting

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Comments ( 46 )

  1. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    marginally useful

    — *Steven*

  2. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    A very useful video indeed! I've been wanting to do this (change the background of all my images to white) for ages and just got lost in the complexity of Photoshop. Videos like this are REALLY useful – thank you.

    — *Esher*

  3. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    This is a great tutorial for those of us who aren't proficient in Photoshop.

    — *Ben*

  4. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Thanks , nicely done

    — *plasma.d00d*

  5. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    This tutorial offered some tips I didn't know… very helpful. Also, the next time you have a tutorial like this, please offer tips for irregular shaped objects… i.e., things placed in grass, people's hair, etc.

    — *Tonya*

  6. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Tough crowd so far. I thought it was helpful and please keep things like this coming.

    — *Troy*

  7. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    helpful, thanks.

    — *Lisa*

  8. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Great tutorial. It's noce to see a video one rather than just screen shots.

    — *Justin*

  9. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    WOW – I have been looking for some ideas on how to get better photos for my store. Thanks for the info, very much appreciated.

    — *Mary*

  10. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Great. Very helpful. Keep the videos coming!

    — *Devin*

  11. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Great video tutorial – really helped to see an actual "live" demonstration.

    — *Suzy*

  12. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Excellent to get some tips with Photoshop….More….More…

    — *Simon*

  13. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Brian – Great tutorial! This really hits home with our retail website. I like the article so much I have forwarded it to my employees. Keep doing relevant articles like this..some of us really appreciate your effort.
    Thanks!
    Bet@Freshbet.com

    — *Bet*

  14. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Hi. Not a complaint–just an FYI. A lot of the country still has dial up and as cool as I would imagine this is, it's unwatchable without broadband.

    — *D*

  15. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Thanks – very useful. What Mac software did you use to film this with sound?

    Ken

    — *Ken Burgin*

  16. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Nice Tutorial – For those who are not Photoshop experts I recommend using Adobe Photoshop Elements. With this program you can highlight the part of the image you would like to keep and choose the backround that you want to remove and it works very well. Of course this works well if you have taken very good photos with the proper lighting. Thank you Practical eCommerce for providing us these useful tutorials – keep them coming!

    — *Mike*

  17. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    Very helpful and relevant. Thanks so much.

    — *Allen*

  18. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    This was very good. Simply done for those of us not fully proficient with Photoshop. Please do more of this.

    — *Sharon*

  19. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Very nice! I really appreciate this type of information – please keep it coming!

    — *Jay*

  20. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Great tutorial! Thanks!

    — *Aimee'*

  21. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Hello Pam,

    What kind of internet connection are you using? This is a rather large file so it can take some time to download, and occasionally the playhead will catch up with the download, which will cause the video to stop playing. Simply wait for a while while more of the file downloads, and you can then click play and continue watching.

    Also, make sure that you have the latest Flash player version by clicking the link below the tutorial. Please let me know if you continue to have problems.

    — *Brian Getting*

  22. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Bravo! You guys should do a whole series on product photography. There are so many little tricks from camera to lighting to Photoshop, and it's really hard to find good info on product photography all in one place. Please, please, please keep it coming!

    — *George*

  23. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Keeping them coming…this was wonderful! Great tips-love 'em!

    — *Deb*

  24. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Wonderful idea and looks like it is a great video. However, the video consistently stops after about 2 minutes of play. Can't figure out why and haven't been able to view it to the end.

    — *Pam*

  25. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Awesome. Thank You!

    — *Jeff*

  26. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Excellent tutorial! :D I've been looking for something like this for the past few days! Nice one!

    — *Joe*

  27. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Thanks – very useful. What mac software did you use to film this with sound?

    Ken

    — *Ken Burgin*

  28. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    I use Snapz Pro X to capture the screen video and sound, then compress the resulting Quicktime Movie with Flash 8 Professional. Hope that helps.

    — *Brian Getting*

  29. Legacy User April 27, 2007 Reply

    Great tutorial, but way over my head. Is Photoshop Elements a separate software program? I need something more basic, simpler. I would have to watch this tutorial six times to even start to get it.

    — *nina*

  30. Legacy User May 2, 2007 Reply

    Excellent! I also use Photoshop Elements, so just the basics is good. Keep them coming – this was great!!

    — *Craig*

  31. Legacy User May 11, 2007 Reply

    Superb! Doesn't get boring and it's not long winded. Glad I've finally found a decent tutorial on this subject. Great job.

    — *Ryan*

  32. Legacy User May 18, 2007 Reply

    Nice, to the point and demonstrating some cool techniques – I've been using the magic wand to do a lot – these other tools are helpful. I've got no photoshop training what-so-ever. Thanks!

    — *James*

  33. Legacy User May 20, 2007 Reply

    I never used the magnetic lasso tool because I tried it before and it seemed useless but watching your video made me go back and try it out again properly and I have to say thanks because it is such a great tool, which has saved me so much time.

    — *Tahir Fayyaz*

  34. Legacy User May 24, 2007 Reply

    GREAT tutorial! I'm bookmarking this topic so that I can come back and rerun while working on live foto… also great to stop/pause, go back, etc. What kind of mouse do you use? Would LOVE to know more about how to set width, edge contrast and frequency, since getting these right upfront seems to really make a difference… Part 2???

    — *Eric*

  35. Legacy User May 20, 2007 Reply

    For irregular shape selections use Photoshop's (PS) PEN tool plus what Brian offers using layer masking.

    Although nothing beats the PEN tool for any shape it's possible to select anything even hair and trees using the magic wand and then select similar under the select menu. There are still a couple masking programs available which can select smoke or clouds such as Fluid Mask and old stalwart KnockOut. Much simpler EZ Mask is suited to sold objects. All are built specifically to make this much simpler. I would recommend PS Essentials for anyone who thinks the full PS is too much for them.

    — *Clive*

  36. Legacy User May 26, 2007 Reply

    Great video – can you do one on layering for beginners like me?
    More on product imaging would be helpful, too.

    — *Allison*

  37. Legacy User May 29, 2007 Reply

    This was so helpful. Thank you. I will be watching the video many times. As a novice Photoshop user there was so much information that I'll never remember it all. Thank goodness for bookmarks. More tutorials like this would be very welcome.

    — *Kim*

  38. Legacy User July 10, 2007 Reply

    Thanks! I have been trying to figure out how to create a good shadow for some time! So simple!

    — *Sarah*

  39. Legacy User July 12, 2007 Reply

    This is great but download the free trial of fluid mask 3 from vertustech.com. It is better and faster.
    Chris

    — *chris*

  40. Legacy User December 28, 2007 Reply

    How can I download this software

    — *AMJ*

  41. Legacy User January 24, 2008 Reply

    Hey man! You are good. Thanks for the fuzz doin' that. its great.

    — *Mon*

  42. Legacy User April 17, 2008 Reply

    Yes! Useful! Must need a new battery in my hearing aid for sure. Too much odd and meaningless movement of the cursor. Hope this demonstration can be archived with louder and crisp sound.

    — *dojoro*

  43. Legacy User April 18, 2008 Reply

    Dude, very cool. I work at a small business that requires me to use Photoshop and remove the background from the products. I've been using only the eraser tool and this tutorial is awesome. Thanks for it and keep up the good work!

    — *Elan*

  44. Legacy User April 30, 2008 Reply

    Another great tutorial! I"m loving these! Anything that has to do with Photoshop in this skill range is something I'd be interested in. Just seeing you someone uses tools, tips, tricks and workflow is so helpful. You could pretty much take any project that you do in Photoshop (or I'm sure most any project you work on in your day to day work) and and turn it or the concept into a tutorial and we'll love it!

    — *Jordan P*

  45. Rushabh Vasa September 1, 2008 Reply

    very helpful video for new designers…

    thanks..

  46. PeatMoss November 17, 2008 Reply

    I hate to say it, but this is not a very good tutorial. I appreciate the effort though. First, using the magnetic lasso is the wrong choice. The tool you want to use with products is the Polygonal Lasso Tool…since many products have mostly straign edges, this is the best tool for the job.

    Case in point, with it, you would not have had to spend time going back with the freehand Lasso Tool to "fix" certain areas.

    After using the polygonal tool, click selct, Modify, Smooth once or twice….and boom you have a perfectly smooth selection. Using this technique only take slightly longer than the magnetic tool, but has none of the cleanup afterward.