How to Create a Transparent Background in Photoshop

Being able to make backgrounds of pictures transparent has been rather handy for me over the years, working in marketing. Creating brochures, flyers, signage, program booklets, ads, website graphics, logos, etc. are examples of when you may want to remove all or part of a background in a photograph or image. Having transparent backgrounds allows your graphics to work with all background colors. For example, you may want to place (or layer) a logo on a colored background. Most likely, if you have this logo in a .jpg format the background of the logo will show as white. By making the background transparent, you can place the logo on almost any background without the white background covering the lower layers of your document.

Below are the steps to do this using Adobe Photoshop, according to

How to Create a Transparent Background in Photoshop

This page demonstrates how to use Adobe Photoshop to create a transparent background.

The file will need to have a transparent layer, which can be achieved in two ways…

(1) Create a New Transparent File

Select File > New from the menu. A window opens like the one pictured right — this includes the option to make the file transparent.

Once the new file has been created, add your image content to one or more new layers. This will happen automatically if you copy and paste an image into the file.

(2) Add a Transparent Layer

You can add a transparent layer to an existing file by selecting Layer > New > Layer from the menu.

The new layer will be added above the currently selected layer. Drag the new layer below the image’s layer.

Whichever method you use, you should end up with at least two layers (as shown right). The image content is on one layer, positioned above the transparent background layer.

Notice how the transparent layer is checkered. This pattern is not part of the image – it is just there to help you identify transparent areas.

Make sure the content layer is selected before you continue.

Making the Transparent Area

Using the magic wand or lasso tool, select the area of the image you want to be transparent.

You may want to experiment a few times with the tolerance and anti-aliasing settings to get the best selection. In the example shown here, the following Magic Wand settings were used:

Magic Wand Properties
Hit the Delete button. The selected area is removed and the checkered (transparent) background becomes visible.

Now that you have a transparent background you can save the file in a variety of formats, including GIF, TIFF, PNG and of course PSD.



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