Cut objects out of the background with Background Eraser

Sometimes you need an object in a photo, but not the distracting background. How do you cut out an object and remove the background in a photo? Use Background Eraser, a brilliant tool.

If you use photos for more than just reminding yourself of happy events like holidays, birthdays, weddings and so on, you probably never felt the need to cut objects out of images. However, people that use photos for print or the web or to create collages, memes and so on, do this regularly.

It is sometimes very useful to remove an object from a photo or to erase the background. You can either show no background and just have it on white or replace the current one with something else. You might want to build a composite image by adding objects from other photos, and so on.

Any half decent photo editor is able to do this and using the selection tool, you can trace around the object to select it. You then either copy the object and paste it into a new image as a new layer or invert the selection and delete everything but the object.

The trouble is, it is not an easy task and tracing round someone with a selection tool for example, can be very tricky. Some people are better at it than others and some struggle to get a clean cut-out.

If you find it hard to cut out an object from a photo, an online tool called Background Eraser can do it for you. It uses powerful machine learning and artificial intelligence to automatically cut objects from images and erase the background.

Background Eraser app vs website

You can use the Background Eraser website and process images within the browser, but there is also an app for Apple Mac and Windows PC. I used the Mac app, which can be downloaded from the website and it just makes it a bit easier to use.

Background Eraser Apple Mac app

There isn’t much to the app and photos are dragged from the disk and dropped on the window to add them. Click the Erase Now button and wait 20 or 30 seconds. There are no settings, no options, and it just does it. The image can then be downloaded and saved to disk.

Test results

I uploaded a few images to try it out and was impressed with the results. Here is a photo of a girl drinking a smoothie.

Girl drinking a smoothie through a straw

Here is the resulting image downloaded by the app.

Cutout of a girl drinking a smoothie

If you just viewed the image, the cutout would appear on a white backgound, but it is most useful in a photo editor that supports layers. That checkerboard pattern is from my photo editor, GIMP, and it indicates transparent areas – the parts of the image that have been cut out. If this image were placed on top of another image, it would show through. Place it on a white background and it would appear on white.

Here is another example:

Man in green t-short and a back and white cat

And here is the image downloaded from Background Eraser:

Photo cutout of a man and a cat

The algorithm and AI could be tuned to people, so I wondered whether it could cope with something else, like a cat on it’s own:

Tabby cat on a cushion

Here is the resulting cutout:

Photo cutout of a tabby cat

Hair and fur are among the most difficult things to cut out and it is very difficult to get right. This cutout is not perfect, but it is probably as good as I could manage manually.

I was impressed with Background Eraser and it is a big help for people struggling with removing backgrounds and cutting out objects from photos.

If you download and use the app without registering, images are limited to a maximum of 700 pixels in width or height.

If you create a free account at the website, images of up to 2,000 pixels can be processed and you can batch process images. However, you are limited to five a month.

For $5 a month you can process 50 images and there are more options for heavy users. It is not something I need to do regularly, so I will probably stick with the free service, but the option to process more images is there if you need it.

Leave a Reply