A Beginner's Guide To Removing Backgrounds in Photoshop

There are few tasks in Adobe Photoshop that are more irritating to do, and as a beginner, that irritation is increased tenfold when you need to cut a subject out from an image. Well, if you're a beginner who wants to add this skill to their repertoire, start here.

Nothing I have ever done in any of Adobe's editing suites for photography and video has had me saying "there must be an easier way than this!" more often than cutting a subject out of a background. It is a painstaking, arduous process that increases in both pain and arduousness the more complicated selection is to make around the subject. However, if you don't have a thorough understanding of the tools available to you for cutting out, you're going to be in for a long day.

Photoshop's A.I and automated processes have increased in their power and accuracy many times over, particularly in the last five years or so. Nevertheless, there are still times where it cannot work out what it is you want it to do, or differentiate the subject from the background. In these situations, it's necessary for you to do a lot of it manually, or at the very least refine what Photoshop did. It's not only a boring task to complete, but it's a boring task to learn, but I implore you: sow these seeds now and put the time in. If it gets to the point where you need to cut a subject out from the background in a project, paid or otherwise, you are not going to want to have to learn it all from scratch. It might seem like a niche skill to have in your back pocket, but it rears its head more often than you might expect and can give you more freedom on image edits. Not to mention, it can unlock compositing, in which making selections are central.

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Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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