How to Crop Background Out of an Image: The Ultimate Guide

If you need to create a background-free image from a standard jpg or png, you've come to the right place. In the last decade, we have seen a revolution of layered image design and floating, background-free images. We need to remove the background for logos, design elements, and icons that will be layered into other designs. Background-free images sometimes look best on product labels and can 'float' above other page elements. Most importantly, you can make a background-free image from any standard jpg or png raster image file - as long as you have the tools and the know-how.

How to crop the background out of an image

The background of an image in a raster file (jpg and png) is saved as pixels. The only difference between your target image and the background is the color of the pixels in between. Fortunately, modern photo-editing and graphic art software makes it easy to select your pixels based on color, shape, shading, and even intuitive shape-detect selection.

With a good image editing program, you can easily clip the background out of any raster image.

Step 1: Select your image & photo-editing software

Start with your image to edit and the software you plan to edit with.  The CorelDRAW suite has the photo-editing tools you'll need to easily grab your isolated image, delete the background, and save as your target background-free file type. If you're a beginner in a hurry, you can also try web tools or free image editing software like GNU which has less refined controls but still allows you to isolate the image and delete the background of a raster image file.

Step 2: Add a transparent layer to your image

Find the layer tool in your photo editing software and edit the settings of your current layer. If necessary, add a transparent layer or "alpha layer". This will allow you to set the background to "nothing" when you delete it instead of the default white pixel.

Step 3: Isolate your image by "Selecting" the background

Now for the fun and challenging part: Isolating your image from the background. You will need to do this with the "Select" function, drawing that marching dotted line around the background so you can delete it.

  • HINT: If you select your target image first, use the "Invert Selection" option to turn the select inside-out and select the background instead.

The easy way: fuzzy select and color select

If you are using CorelDRAW or a similarly advanced graphics program, you may have a "Fuzzy Select" tool which allows you to select continuous areas of a similar shade. For a simple raster file with an image and a white or shaded background, this is by far the easiest way to select and delete your background. Unfortunately, this method doesn't work with a busy or detailed background. Turn down the sensitivity for a textured background.

  • HINT: Hold Shift to add to your selection - to select multiple sections of background. Hold Ctrl to deselect an area from your present total selection.

The hard way: the lasso tool

If you can't easy-select your image or the background with the fuzzy tool, try the "Lasso Select" tool instead. The lasso allows you to draw a very precise selection line (or click point by point) around the edge of your focus image. Carefully outline your image, then manage the selection and delete the background. You can use multiple waves of select and delete for precise background removal.

Smart background isolation tools

Advanced photo editing features can allow you to smart-select a background, even if that background is busy. This is similar, for example, to how webcam filters can 'replace' the background in a video conference.

Step 4: Delete the background

With your background smart-selected, press that delete button! If your image is selected, invert your select with the "Invert Selection" tool before deleting. You should now have an image with an empty background.

Step 5: Clean up your edges

Often, pixel images do not cut out the background with perfect cleanliness. Trim the edges of your cut to remove stray discolored pixels or firm up your perimeter outline. Use your favorite pixel editing methods, from the paintbrush to the bold tool to make your image look right.

Step 6: Clip the image size

Usually, removing the background also leaves extra space round the edge of your central image - sometimes a large canvas of space. Use the rectangle select tool to better-frame your image and then clip your canvas size to the size of your selection. This will re-size your background-free picture to be better centered and proportional to the margins.

Step 7: Save as a PNG or SVG image file

Finally, export your file as a PNG raster file or an SVG vector file. PNGs have an alpha channel, making it possible to have transparent and semi-transparent pixels. This is why PNGs layer so well and are often the elements used in SVG design. SVGs are vector files that can remember layer, position, and crisp coordinates. Both file types will preserve your now-transparent background and can be used aptly for digital graphic design.

Making your images background-free

Cropping out a background expertly with smart-select tools is one of the many things you can do with the CorelDRAW graphic design suite. Explore your asset creation and development possibilities by exploring the tools at your fingertips.

Need to Download CorelDRAW?

Download a Free 15-Day Trial Now!