How to Make an Image's Background Transparent in Photoshop

By Jered Slusher

Some graphics design projects require images to have transparent backgrounds so that the image can be placed on top of multiple, different-colored backgrounds. However, most photos and graphics are saved in formats that have colored backgrounds. To get an image to have a transparent background, you must use a graphics design program to manually remove the colored background. Using Adobe Photoshop, erase the colored background and save the image without the background color to make a transparent background.

Step 1

Open Adobe Photoshop. Press and hold the "Ctrl" key on your keyboard and press the "O" key to launch the "Open" image window. Click the image you wish to open and press the "Open" button at the bottom right of the "Open" window.

Step 2

Double-click the "Background" layer on the layers palette menu. Press the "OK" button on the resulting "New Layer" menu to unlock the image. The image is renamed to Layer 0. Click the "Create a new layer" icon at the bottom of the layers palette menu. Click and hold the new layer in the layers palette menu, and drag the layer underneath Layer 0. Release the mouse button to drop the layer in place.

Step 3

Click "Layer 0" on the layers palette menu to select it for editing. Press the "W" key on your keyboard to select the "Quick Selection Tool." Click and hold the left mouse button, then drag the tool across the background of the image that you want to make transparent. Release the left mouse button when you've finished selecting the background of the image.

Step 4

Press the "Delete" button on your keyboard to erase the selected background. The background of your image disappears, and a pattern of white and light gray boxes appears behind your foreground image. The white and gray box pattern tells you that there is no color information in that space.

Step 5

Click "File" from the top navigation menu and choose "Save as..." from the drop-down menu. Type "transparent_background" in the "File name" field. Click the "Format" drop-down list and select the "PNG" option. Press the "Save" button to the right of the "Fine name" field to save your image to your hard drive.