How to remove the background from your images

Your guide to removing background images

Removing the background from images is one of the most frequently used photo editing(opens in a new tab or window) features for enhancing photos(opens in a new tab or window). After all, humans are visual creatures and images sans a messy background help tell a good visual story, and information is absorbed faster.

In fact, studies by 3M(opens in a new tab or window) revealed that images and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, somewhat confirming the old saying that a picture paints a thousand words. Because we remember and retain things more easily when they're visual, it’s clear that the selection of imagery when working on a project—from an invitation(opens in a new tab or window) to a work presentation(opens in a new tab or window)—is of the utmost importance.

Canva photos(opens in a new tab or window) help to perfectly illustrate your vision, whether you’re looking for something soothing and laidback, such as Notebooks on White Background with Shadows(opens in a new tab or window) or an image that brims with movement and energy, like Boys Doing Parkour(opens in a new tab or window).

And in this article, we show you how to use Canva's Background Remover(opens in a new tab or window) tool and help you tell great stories with your vision in mind.

Table of Contents

When you need to use a background remover

Image by Derek McKinney via Unsplash

Although images are an effective way of communicating information in a short space of time, the image and visuals you select have a direct impact on how this information is gathered. When using an image, it’s often useful to remember to have a focal point, which allows you to capture your reader’s attention by not giving them too much to focus on. By removing the busy background of a photo(opens in a new tab or window), your image will likely have more impact.

Secondly, you might want to use the background to communicate a certain message—one that’s not communicated in the original background of the selected image. Take a resume(opens in a new tab or window), for example. If you’re applying for a job within the corporate environment, it might not be appropriate to include that sunny snap of you and your dog to illustrate who’s really behind all those descriptions of roles and responsibilities. In this instance, it would be wise to opt for a transparent background to your photo, leaving the edges white and devoid of interference.

Conversely, if you’re applying for a job in design or the creative sphere, you might want a certain level of personality to peep through. In this instance, you could leave your dog in, or you might make yourself the main feature by removing the background of the image by using Magic Eraser(opens in a new tab or window) or replacing it with an eye-catching sunshine yellow background. Your ability to tweak your own personal images for whatever project you’re working on is invaluable.

Need your image for something a little more serious, like a job application? Resume templates(opens in a new tab or window) such as Peach and Yellow Playful HR IT Specialist Resume(opens in a new tab or window) and Colorful Modern Geometric Construction Resume(opens in a new tab or window) demonstrate exactly how harnessing the power of the background remover can boost the professionalism of an image or display your personality to reflect the job you’re applying for.

How to use the Background Remover tool in Canva

Thanks to the new addition to Canva Pro(opens in a new tab or window) removing backgrounds just became as simple as a few clicks—eliminating the need for layers and other complex design wizardry.

You can remove the backgrounds of up to 500 images every 24 hours. Currently, Background Remover only works for images under 9MB in size. Any uploaded image with a resolution of more than 10MP will be downscaled to 10MP after removing its background.

You can remove backgrounds on your uploaded images from ‘Project’ folders, as well. However, you’ll be unable to use the Erase and Restore brushes from there. Learn more about it on Canva image editor(opens in a new tab or window).

To remove a background on a desktop computer in the Canva Editor, simply:

  1. Upload your own image or choose one from our image library.
  2. Click on the 'Edit Image' button on the top toolbar.
  3. Next, select ‘Background Remover’ on the left side panel that appears.
  4. Then, click ‘Erase’ to remove the background.
  5. After clicking ‘Erase’, like magic, the background will disappear.
  6. Once satisfied with your photo’s look without a background, select ‘Apply’ to save the changes. Or select ‘Restore’ to undo any changes.
  7. Finally, simply drag your new image into the perfect spot.

To remove a background on your mobile in the Canva Editor, simply:

  1. Tap on the image you want to edit.
  2. On the toolbar below the editor, tap on ‘Effects.’
  3. 10. Tap on ‘Background Remover.’
  4. 11. Wait for the background to be processed.

Not sure how images can truly transform your designs? Have a look at Canva templates such as Healthy Mondays Invitation(opens in a new tab or window) and Toffee Wedding Brunch Invitation(opens in a new tab or window) to see just how much an arresting image can change the message you communicate.

How to use the Background Remover tool on your videos

At the moment, you can only remove backgrounds on videos with an original length that’s less than 90 seconds. If you trim a video in Canva, you’d need to download and re-upload it to use this feature. For mobile, you must also upload videos via the Uploads tab, not the Camera Roll or Gallery.

To remove the background from a video on your desktop computer, simply:

  1. Click the video you want to edit.
  2. On the toolbar above the editor, click ‘Edit video.’
  3. From the side panel, click ‘Background Remover.’
  4. Wait for the background to be processed.

To remove the background from a video on your mobile, simply:

  1. Tap the video you want to edit.
  2. On the toolbar below the editor, tap ‘Effects.’
  3. Tap ‘Background Remover.’
  4. Wait for the background to be processed.

How to use the Erase and Restore brushes to edit images created in Background Remover

Image by Monfocus via PIxabay

The Erase and Restore brushes are currently only available on canva.com and the desktop app.

  1. After clicking ‘Background Remover,’ click on the ‘Erase’ or ‘Restore’ brush.
  2. Drag the brush over the parts of the image you want to erase or restore.
  3. To adjust the brush size, drag the ‘Brush size’ slider to the left to make it smaller or to the right to make it bigger.
  4. To see the original image while editing, select ‘Show original image.’
  5. On the toolbar above the editor, click ‘Done.’
  6. To apply the changes, click ‘Apply’ on the bottom of the side panel.

Image by Rodion Kutsaev via Unsplash

Once you’ve navigated your way around theBackground Remover(opens in a new tab or window) tool, you’re free to experiment with a range of eye-catching or complementary backgrounds, depending on your brand and approach. The ability to remove the background from an image goes beyond cropping(opens in a new tab or window) your friend out of an image for your social stream; it’s about customizing yourimages(opens in a new tab or window) and designs(opens in a new tab or window) to the right audience for your project.

Want to become a design Pro? Sign up for Canva Pro. today

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