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How to Remove the Background of a photo in Photoshop

How to Remove the background of a photo in Photoshop CC and how to use advanced options in Select and Mask

This Photoshop tutorial will teach you some of the detailed steps to remove a background in Photoshop with high resolution quality edges.  I have other tutorials that show the steps to quickly get rid of the background 3 different ways here. Definitely worth looking at as well. This tut will show you how to get in close and get really nice edges.

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We will start with this photo I found on Adobe Stock.

Step 1.

Choose the Quick select tool.

Step 2.

With a reasonably large brush, make a rough selection around the subject

Step 3.

Use a smaller brush to clean up the edges. Alt/Option drag to deselect eras where you went too far.

Step 4.

Use a smaller brush to cut holes in the areas that are disconnected, such as inside chair legs etc. Turn on pressure if you have a Wacom/Surface tablet. (see the video above)

Step 5.

Almost no cutout tutorial Ive seen online does this.. Zoom in close, to 100%.

Now you can see lots of areas that aren’t selected so well.

With a really small brush, go all the way around your image getting a really nice, tight select. Watch the video above for a demonstration of this as well as some tips to speed up the work.

Making these better selections will help when we refine.

Step 6.

Choose Select And Mask, by clicking on the button in the top toolbar.

Welcome to the Select and Mask workspace. This is where we refine the edges.

Choose white as the background and turn opacity all the way up.

Step 7.

Choose the refine brush to paint over areas of hair and fur.

See how it selects hair nicely.

Step 8.

See the straight edges need some help. You will love the tip I’m about to share.

Choose the brush below the refine brush.

Zoom into 100% for this

Hold down Alt/Option and paint away the edge

Step 9.

Turn the opacity down, so you can also see the original edge on the chair arm.

Step 10.

Click on the edge of the line with the brush tool.  (1)

Move the cursor to the other side of the edge. Make sure the brush circle is lined up with the edge.

Hold Shift and Click

You will see a straight line was drawn that gives a perfect edge. If you missed it, undo and try again, the video demonstrates this really well.

See the edge.

Step 11.

Repeat for the second edge on the metal brace.

Turn the opacity back to 100% to see you edge.

For a perfect cutout, repeat the above for all the straight edges. Also make a small brush and fix all the nooks and crannies. This is closeup and detailed work. For social media and web, you don’t have to get too perfect. However, if you are doing commercial or print resolution work, you need to get really close and really precise.

When you are done (It’s not yet finished here) Change output to New Layer with Layer mask.

Click ok

You will have your nice cut out and also a layer mask, so you can further refine it if you wish.


I really hope that you found this video and written steps useful and that this helps you cut out backgrounds from your photos. If it was helpful, please tell everyone about PhotoshopCAFE and share this tutorial on your social media. Also if you want to get batter at cutting out anything in Photoshop, take a look at the Photoshop CC Selections Secrets course. 

Check out other tutorials in this series on How to Remove anything from a photo in Photoshop by Colin Smith


Great to see you here at the CAFE


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(Ive been posting some fun Instagram and Facebook Stories lately)

You can get my free Layer Blending modes ebook here



Stop struggling with selections. Learn how to select and cut out anything from people, hair, trees, complex shapes and even transparency.
Discover how to get perfect edges, without halos and jaggies. Colin shows you exactly how in 18 lessons.
All the images are included for you to follow along.
You will be able to select and cut out anything: faster and cleaner. 

selections and masks in Photoshop CC




PS Don’t forget to follow us on Social Media for more tips.. (I've been posting some fun Instagram and Facebook Stories lately)
You can get my free Layer Blending modes ebook along with dozens of exclusive Photoshop Goodies here photoshop goodies for free

7 responses to “How to Remove the Background of a photo in Photoshop”

  1. When I start doing close up work on cut-outs (removing backgrounds) I often just end up using a tiny brush to basically paint the mask. I get good results but it takes forever. You’ve used the shift/click technique in other tutorials but I never thought to use it on a project like this. That tip alone should save me hours. I also liked how you handled the mesh area in the chairs. I would have stressed trying to make it perfect, but your results were excellent.
    By the way, your tutorials are always good, but the last few weeks you’ve been on fire. The tutorial on removing distracting shadows was inspired. In the past I’ve tried doing something similar but the results weren’t great – I can’t wait to try your camera raw method. And the removing reflections from glasses … brilliant. It was another task that I have often tried but with so-so results at best. But your technique seems to be a simple, professional looking solution.
    Thanks for the great videos but good luck trying to top these last few tutorials.

  2. hi well I find your tutorials very interesting and helpful. but I really like the one on remove backgrounds, so I shall be looking at your courses on this sort of subject.

  3. Only just discovered you Colin here in lockdown in the UK, I learnt so much from the tutorial and will now start to have a serious look at yoiur other work. Thanks

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