How to Remove a Background in Adobe Illustrator

In today’s digital age, graphic designers are constantly seeking new techniques and tools to enhance their creative processes. One essential skill that designers must possess is the ability to remove backgrounds effectively and luckily designers can do that in a few easy steps.

My name is Kerry, and as an artist myself, I understand the highs and lows that come from designing on new platforms. It can be exciting but also frustrating to explore different software. I am excited to share my knowledge and expertise that can help you create unique design projects.

In this article, I will explain why designers should acquire the knowledge of removing backgrounds in Adobe Illustrator and how it can benefit their workflow. We will also go over the steps to remove backgrounds. 

Don’t worry. It isn’t hard to do at all! Let’s get to it.  

Key Takeaways

  • You remove a background using Clipping Mask or Image Trace. 
  • If your image is complex, it’s not recommended to use Image Trace to remove the background because the result won’t be ideal.
  • To save an image with a transparent background, choose PNG as the file format.

2 Easy Ways to Remove the Background in Adobe Illustrator

You can use the Pen tool to outline the objects and make a clipping mask to remove the image background, or if you have a simple background, use the Image Trace feature. 

Method 1: Clipping Mask

Step 1: Add the image you want to work with in Adobe Illustrator by going to File > Place or simply drag and drop the image into the document. Make sure the image is high resolution for better results.

Step 2: Select the Pen tool from the toolbar. 

Using this tool, you will want to outline the object that you want to keep in your project. Remember to connect the first and last anchor points to make a closed path. 

You can use the Zoom tool to zoom into your project and gain more precision while doing this action. 

Step 3: Select both the pen tool path and the image, you will then right-click the mouse and select Make Clipping Mask. This will enable an action that will remove all elements outside the highlighted objects in the outline.

You will see that your object now has the background removed! 

Method 2: Image Trace

For example, let’s get rid of the background of this image.

Step 2: Go to the overhead menu Window > Image Trace to open the Image Trace panel.

You will see that a new popup window will appear where you can adjust various settings of your image. 

It is helpful to select the High Fidelity Photo option and you will see some magic happening on the screen. Select Color from this menu as well as choose the number of colors according to the image you want to remove the background from.

Once you are ready, click the Trace button in the bottom right corner of this pop-up menu.

Step 3: Navigate to the Object menu at the top of the screen and click Expand

You’ll be able to select the objects separately. If you want to remove the background, click on the background color area.

Once you have made the desired selection, press the Delete key on your keyboard to remove the background from the selected areas. You will now see a transparent background or the underlying artboard. The background will disappear, leaving only the isolated image. 

Note: For either of these methods, if necessary you can use the Eraser Tool (Shift + E) or the Direct Selection Tool (A) to clean up any remaining unwanted areas or fine-tune the edges of your subject. 

Also, to save the image with a transparent background, go to File > Export. Select a suitable file format such as PNG or TIFF that supports transparency. Make sure to choose the Transparent option before saving.

Why Remove a Background in Adobe Illustrator

By mastering background removal techniques, you can seamlessly integrate their creations into a wide range of projects. Whether it’s creating logos, illustrations, or digital art, the ability to remove backgrounds ensures that the final design blends smoothly into any context.

Removing backgrounds in Adobe Illustrator also provides designers with an unparalleled level of flexibility. When the background is removed, individual elements within the design become independent objects. 

This skill also becomes crucial when preparing designs for print or production. Whether it’s a poster, packaging design, or promotional material, eliminating unwanted backgrounds ensures a clean and professional look. 

Final Thoughts

Adobe Illustrator provides a comprehensive set of tools and features to remove backgrounds from images. By following these step-by-step instructions, you can easily isolate objects, remove unwanted backgrounds, and create visually appealing compositions. 

With practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to master background removal in Adobe Illustrator and enhance your design projects.

Do you have any tips or tricks for removing backgrounds in Adobe Illustrator? Share your resources, thoughts, and advice in the comments down below!

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