Removing a White Background From an Image in Photoshop (3 Methods)

So say you have a logo you just got off google but it has a white background. But you just want the background transparent because you want to impose it over something…. Well… I have never found a more simpler way!

Method 1

While googling up the problem I found this post by morfytastic.

Here’s a great tip if you have to “peel” a white background off an image which is much cleaner than using the magic wand, as the magic wand often leaves either a halo or a jagged/untidy edge-

1. copy the image to a new layer and delete the background layer
2. copy the image to a new layer again and INVERT it
3. copy the inverted layer into the clipboard, and switch off its visibilty for now
4. go back the the +ve image and create a layer mask
5. press ALT whilst clicking on the mask thumbnail
6. paste the inverted image, then click back to the image thumbnail in the layer palette
7. duplicate this new layer until necessary (5 times?) and delete the inverted layer you created at the start
8. merge down the layers one by one (Ctrl-E) choosing to “apply mask” each time.

Well that was easy! I did mine for about 7 layers and what do you know… I got it!

Method 2 (easier/shorter)

Thanks to Bradley (@bcw_) he also showed me in the past and reminded me of the Color Range method:

1) Create a transparent layer (same dimensions as image about to be edited)
2) Paste your image onto it.
3) Select > Color Range – A dropper will appear. Select the white you’d like to remove and click on it. (works for any other color you’d like to remove as well). Usually, you can keep the fuzziness to 40-50.
4) Click OK, and the selected color will be highlighted.
5) Press the delete key and the selected area (i.e. the selected color) will be removed, leaving very clean edges.

This is a bit faster than the other method.

Here is the example of the first method:

I will be using this image from Whirlpool (hope they don’t mind)

  1. Drag the image to Photoshop. Copy the image to a new layer. To do this simply drag the layer over the “new layer” button and delete the background (locked) layer. 1
  2. Copy the layer again as previously however now hit CTRL+I and invert the layer. It should look as follows:
  3. 2Copy this inverted layer by selecting it and CTRL+A to select all of the image and CTRL+C. Then you can turn off the visibility (click on the eye)
  4. Now on the original copied layer that was not inverted (Background copy), create a layer mask. To do this, select the layer and press the “add layer mask” button at the base of layers.4
  5. While holding ALT key, click the now white thumbnail next to the image thumbnail. The entire image should go white now.
  6. Paste (CTRL+V) the inverted image in this area now and click back on the original thumbnail. You should now see a light image of the logo.
  7. Duplicate this layer with the mask a few times and you can delete the inverted layer (Background copy 2). For mine i did quite a few times since this logo had color in it.
  8. To speed things up I highlighted all of the layers and hit CTRL+E and you’ll end up with the logo and no white background!

Method 3 (complex images)

Alternatively, you can also try this for even more complex situations using channels.

Good luck


    • Bart
    • February 1st, 2013

    Hello there,

    I found your site while trying to find out more about this technique.
    I just can’t figure out what he’s saying from 4 onwards.

    Could you please expand on this?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Ohhh it’s using masks basically. Ill see if I get some time and explain it clearer in the post itself.

        • Bart
        • February 1st, 2013

        Would be awesome, thanks!

        Tried fooling around with it today, but didn’t quite work out. Hope further instructions do help.

        Cheers, Bart

  1. Bart :

    Would be awesome, thanks!

    Tried fooling around with it today, but didn’t quite work out. Hope further instructions do help.

    Cheers, Bart

    Hey Bart, did the example especially for you!

    • Bart
    • February 4th, 2013

    Now THIS looks comprehensible. Thank you so much, absolutely awesome!

    • Haha. Glad I can help. You can try the color range method also.

    • Bart
    • February 5th, 2013

    Pretty surprised that the third method actually got the best result. That way I got less white remaining around the edges then with the other two.

    • Ohhh. That method is a bit painful but glad something worked!

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