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Removing Product Backgrounds in Photoshop

By Chris Brown
Pen Tool

Using the Pen Tool in Photoshop

The pen tool is the most accurate way to 'clear-cut' or remove the background from your product pictures. It does require some practice to get the hang of, but once mastered it is invaluable.

The idea is to draw 'a path' around your product with a series of points and curves. With a bit of practice you can make a very precise path and using the different states of the pen tool, you can easily go back and adjust the path, adding or deleting points and using the handles to fit the curves more  accurately. Once drawn, the path can be saved and then used to create a selection  to extract the product from the background.

 Video Overview


The Pen Tool Exploded

The pen tool has several different states that are used for different tasks.


Pen Tool

Click to add points. Drag to create a curve

Freeform Pen Tool

Drag the tool to form a freeform path. Without a tablet, this tool is difficult to be precise with.

Add Anchor Point Tool

This tool will add points to an existing path. You can achieve the same by hovering the Pen Tool over a path.

Delete Anchor Point Tool

This tool will delete an anchor point. You can achieve the same by hovering the path tool over an anchor point

Convert Point Tool

This tool will convert a curve point to a sharp corner or vise-verse. You can do the same with the Path Tool by holding down the Option Key (Mac) or Alt Key (PC)


Drawing Your Path

Once you have the Pen Tool selected start by clicking on a point and making your way around the product. If you click and drag while still holding down the mouse button, you can drag out a handle and create a curve. Once you begin you will see a 'work path' appear in the Paths window.


Save Your Path

Once you have drawn the path around your product you can save the path from the Paths window. This means you can go back and adjust it later or use it for other operations like adding effects etc.


Make a Selection


From the Paths menu, choose 'Make Selection'. You'll see the marching ants in place of your path. From the main Photoshop menu choose Select > Inverse to select the background rather than the product.


Clear the Background

From the main Photoshop menu choose  Edit > Clear. This will remove the background so the product is left on a white background.



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