Instant Photo Background Eraser

PicMonkey lets you remove the background of a photo with a single click so you can make layered designs, clean up product photos, and create gorgeous social posts.

There are many reasons to remove the background of a photo: to get rid of clutter, to clean up a product pic for display, or to cut out an object or person in the foreground to use in a new layered design. We’re seeing lots of everyday use of background erase — especially in YouTube thumbnails, Instagram Stories ("shop my picks" type posts), and of course, product photos.

PicMonkey Pro subscribers have access to our automatic background eraser tool. If a photo is a single layer, all you need to do is click Remove bkgnd from the Background Tools menu. It’s really simple and fast, plus only PicMonkey lets you further tweak your erasure afterwards by painting back on parts of the background, or using the eraser tool to remove just a little bit more. 

Quick steps to erase a photo background

  1. Open your photo in PicMonkey.

  2. In the Background Tools section of the left panel, click the Remove bkgnd button.

  3. Poof! Your image will automatically be saved to Hub with a transparent background.

Note that removal may take a few seconds. In the case that your image isn’t a good candidate for removal, the feature will give you an error message.

Removing the background from a photo in a design

  1. Select your photo's layer from the Layers panel, or by clicking it on the canvas.

  2. Click Remove bkgnd from Image tools, which opens in the left panel when you select your photo layer.

All done!

Replace an erased background with color, photos, video, or a texture

When the background is successfully removed, the Remove background button will be grayed out. 

After the photo background is removed, you’ll see a gray and white checkered background underneath your image—congrats, your photo has a transparent background! You can now create a new background for your image, or you can download your image file as a PNG — it's the file type that will preserve the transparency.

You can do so many things with your background-less pic. Here are four ideas:

1. Make a solid color background for your photo

If you want to make your new background a solid color, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Layers panel, and select your background layer.

  2. From the Background Tools menu, click on the color picker.

  3. Use the color swatches to create a color background underneath your image. 

  4. Click Apply.

2. Set a texture as your photo background

If you’d like to set a texture as your new background, follow these steps:

  1. To apply a texture as a your background, you first need to create a color background (see above). 

  2. Select your background layer from the Layers panel.

  3. Go to the Textures tab in the left menu. 

  4. Choose a texture to apply to the background. 

  5. Adjust the Fade slider according to how much of the texture you want to show. 

  6. Click Apply.

3. Create a video background

Use your background-less photo atop a video, and for an extra "whoo-weeee!" effect, change the blend mode on your photo for a partially see-through look as in the above example.

  1. Upload your own video or go to Photos & Video in the left tab column.

  2. Browse the stock video library.

  3. Click to add video to your canvas. Send behind your photo by placing its layer below the photo on the Layers panel.

  4. Use the Video Tools menu to crop your video or adjust other elements.

  5. Select your photo and play with Fade & blend on the Image Tools menu to adjust how your photo looks against the video background.

Learn more about using video in PicMonkey: Bring Your Designs to Life with Video!

4. Put a new photo as your photo background

To make the background a photo, follow these steps:

  1. Click Replace with image on the Background Tools menu.

  2. Choose the source of your image.

  3. Now, use the Background Tools to adjust your image, or change back to color.

Create a multi-layered design with Background Eraser

Once you’ve removed the background from your image, you’re ready to place it over a new background. Your image will be saved in Hub so you can grab it when you’re ready to start a new design. 

To create a multi-layered design, follow these steps:

  1. (Follow the above steps, or start from scratch by opening an image you want to use as the base of your design.

  2. Add your background-less image to your canvas by selecting Add image

  3. Adjust size, orientation, or add an outline or a drop shadow from the Image Tools menu.

  4. Add graphics or text to your design if desired. 

  5. Your new design is auto-saved in Hub as a multi-layered file so you can continue to adjust or edit it later on. 

Automatic Background Eraser tips for getting the best results with your image

While the background eraser feature is amazingly magical, it may not work every time. Here are some guidelines for ensuring a successful background erase:

  • Photos with a clear subject in the foreground will work the best. Think: photos of people, animals, products, houses, cars, etc. close to the camera.

  • Images with good contrast between background and foreground are ideal.

  • Plain backgrounds are better than busy backgrounds.

  • Images with just one or a small handful of people work better than images of large groups of people.

  • Images where the subject is cut off at the edge of the photo’s frame will look the best as opposed to images where the subject is cut off in the middle of the frame (behind a desk, for instance) which will look odd with the background removed.

Background eraser on the PicMonkey mobile app

One-click background remover is also available in the PicMonkey Mobile App for iOS and Android users! It’s a Pro subscriber feature, so if you already have a Pro subscription then you have unlimited access. If you don’t have a Pro subscription, you can upgrade!

How to use the background remover app

First you’ll need to download PicMonkey from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android). If you already have the app, be sure to update it to use the new feature.

  1. Open a photo to edit in the PicMonkey Mobile App. 

  2. Tap BG Remover in the bottom toolbar, then BG Remover again.

  3. If PicMonkey removes too much background, tap Manual and use the paintbrush to restore. Alternately, you can use the eraser tool to remove even more of your photo. 

  4. Tap the checkmark in the upper right corner when you’re finished. 

  5. Tap Save to save and/or share.

You can use the additional BG Remover suite of tools to fine-tune:

  • Manual gives you a paint brush and eraser to further clean up your background. Zoom in to fine-tune your edits. 

  • Adjust lets you fine-tune your choices when you’re restoring and erasing. 

    • Tap Edges and adjust how sharp or feathered the edges of your image look by moving the slider up or down.

  • Invert lets you swap the erased part for the non-erased part of your image and vice versa.

How to cut out a background using shapes

Shape cuts out the background and fits the part you want to keep within the bounds of whatever shape you select. Once you pick a shape, you can adjust its size and placement over your original image.

Rocket to the top of photo editing mastery with a PicMonkey subscription.
Sarah Gonzales

Sarah Gonzales is the content marketing manager at PicMonkey. Before this she worked at Intiut, and before that started a non-profit, and before that had a radio show, and before that worked at Ms. magazine, and before that went to UC Berkeley, and before ALL of that grew up in Alaska.