A step by step tutorial on how to remove image background using ‘magic wand tool’?

Clipping Path and Background Remove Service

October 10, 2018

You might have heard about magic wand tool and, depending on how much you use Photoshop in your day-to-day life, ‘Magic wand’ is one of the quickest and easiest way to remove background from an image in Photoshop.

What Magic Wand Tool is?

Photoshop magic wand tool simply known as ‘magic wand’ is the quickest and easiest way of selecting certain portions of an image, giving you the opportunity to alter one part of the image while leaving other part unchanged. Unlike other selection tool that selects pixel based on shape of the image while magic wand selects pixel based on tone and colour. The common uses of this tool is removing background and leaving the subject of the image in place.

What Is the Magic Wand Tool Used for?

Photoshop is the powerful image editing software in the world. But to reveal that power, there's a few essential skills we need to have. One of them is knowing how to make selections. Without selections, we'd have no way to adjust or edit specific areas of an image. Magic wand is used to select an object of the image quickly in order to remove background or edit the image. Today’s online consumer like to see their product on a white background or without a background like amazon, eBay, shopify etc. This image editing tool helps you to achieve that goal quickly and easily.

How to use Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop?

Step 1:

Open your Photoshop and go to File > Open and choose your desire image that you want to modify.

With your image open in Photoshop, open the Layers palette by clicking Window > Layers. Make sure the background layer is highlighted. Duplicate background layer by clicking Layer > Duplicate Layer.

At this stage you can give your duplicated layer a custom name. Giving your layer a name (such as “isolated”) will make your file easier to identify and use for others on your team who may need to access.

Step 2: Hide the background layer

From your Layers palette, click on the eye icon next to the image thumbnail. This way, your original image will remain intact as you are working on the duplicate layer.

Step 3: Configuring Magic Wand Tool

Click on the Quick Selection Tool in the Tools panel and keep your mouse button held down for a second or two until a fly-out menu appears. Select the Magic Wand from the menu.

At the top of the screen, you’ll see the options for adjusting how the Magic Wand Tool works. Specify one of the selection options in the options bar. The Magic Wand tool’s pointer changes depending on which option is selected.

  • Single: When chosen, generates a new, different selection with every click
  • Add to: This will access automatically when you hold down SHIFT.
  • Subtract from: This allows you to remove pixels from your selection when clicking on an area of your selection.
  • Intersect: This creates a new selection that only includes pixels from a previous selection.
  • Sample Size: In newer versions of Photoshop, you have the option to adjust your sample size.
  • Tolerance: The Tolerance option tells Photoshop how different in tone and colour a pixel can be from the area we clicked on for it to be included in the selection. By default, the Tolerance value is set to 32, which means that Photoshop will select any pixels that are the same colour as the area we clicked on, plus any pixels that are up to 32 shades darker or 32 shades brighter. You can adjust Tolerance to select a larger area at a time.
  • Anti-alias: You can smooth the hard edges of a selection by anti-aliasing or feathering. Anti-aliasing smoothes the jagged edges of a selection by softening the colour transition between edge pixels and background pixels.
  • Contiguous: With Contiguous selected, Photoshop will only select pixels that fall within the acceptable tone and colour range determined by the Tolerance option and are side by side each other in the same area you clicked on. Any pixels that are within the acceptable Tolerance range but are separated from the area you clicked on by pixels that fall outside the Tolerance range will not be included in the selection.

  • Step 4: Making selection

    There are two ways you can use Magic Wand Tool to select subject of an image: selecting the background and selecting the subject. The method you use will depends on whether or not the background of your image is one colour.

    Method 1: Selecting the background

    If the background of an image is solid colour or almost a solid colour, you can use the Magic Wand Tool to select the background.

  • Make sure you’re in the duplicated layer.
  • Click anywhere within the background with the Magic Wand Tool.
  • While holding the SHIFT key, click on areas of the background that weren’t included in the initial selection,
  • From top menu click Select> inverse or SHIFT+CTRL+I (SHIFT+COMMAND+I on Mac) to create a selection of just the subject.

  • Method 2: Selecting the subject

    If the background is multiple colour, you have to select the subject of your image instead of the background. Photoshop CC18 has an option called Select Subject.

  • Make sure you’re in your duplicated layer.
  • Select the Magic Wand Tool, but do not click anywhere on your image.
  • Choose the Select Subject button at the top of the application. You should now have a rough selection of the subject.
  • Click on Subtract from Selection at the top of the screen. Then, click on any areas of the selection that don’t belong to the subject. This will remove these areas from the selection.

  • Step 5: Removing background

    Once all the selection is done press Backspace(Windows) or Delete (Mac) to Remove Your Background. Now your image is on a transparent background. You now can put your image against any background you like.

    Step 6: Insert a new background into your image

    Open the file that contains new background which you want to show behind your product. In the new background, select the entire image by clicking CTRL+A (Mac, COMMAND+A). Copy the selection by clicking CTRL+C (Mac, COMMAND+C).

    Go back into the file containing the subject you just isolated. Select the unaltered Background layer. Then, click CTRL+V (COMMAND+V on Mac) to paste the new background into the file.

    The new background should appear as a new layer between your masked subject and original background. You can toggle the original background layer back to visible now.

    If your original image was taken against a white background, you can set your new background layer blend mode to Multiply to pull the original shadows back into the new image.

    You can add more layers for additional backgrounds, and toggle the eye icon next to each to see how they look with your subject.

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