Background Erase Trick in Paint Shop Pro

PSP Background Erase

Cut this school logo out of this black background and paste it onto another one using Paint Shop Pro
Cut this school logo out of this black background and paste it onto another one using Paint Shop Pro

Background Erase in Paint Shop Pro

The background erase technique is one of my favorites in Paint Shop Pro. We use this technique in my middle school technology class in order to create unique and original projects the I call a photo montage. The students generally can pick up on the technique quickly and then their creative juices get going and they come up with some nice original works using the technique. If my middle school students can do this, then there is certainly no reason that you can't master the technique too.

We will start out with a photo opened up in the software. We will use the school logo which will be simple to work with. This has a black background so we will cut this logo out of the black background and paste it onto another background in order to demonstrate the technique.

Use the background erase tool around the edges of the logo to clear the black background away from the edges.
Use the background erase tool around the edges of the logo to clear the black background away from the edges.

Begin by Selecting the Background Eraser Tool

On the left hand side of the screen where the different tool selections are will be the background erase tool. It will be right below the eraser tool that is represented by the icon showing the eraser on the head of a pencil. Keep in mind that the eraser tool and the background eraser tool are not the same thing. Use the background eraser tool first in order to make things easier.

Move the circle or "brush" all around the edges of the object that we want to erase the background from. The black and white checker board represents that there is nothing there.
Move the circle or "brush" all around the edges of the object that we want to erase the background from. The black and white checker board represents that there is nothing there.

Drag the Brush Around the Edges of the Logo

Above we click our mouse and drag our "brush" which is simply a circle all around the edges of the logo in order to clear away the black background away from the edges. Now we can resize our brush by holding the ALT button down and left clicking the mouse and dragging the circle up and down on the screen. There are hints and instructions on how to use each tool on the left hand side of the screen. You should see that this changes the size of the brush to one that you are comfortable with. Be very careful not to drag the pencil part of the brush onto the logo. If you do this, you may erase some of the picture that you are trying to cut out. This is hard to fix sometimes when using the background eraser tool. If you do mess up, then right click on the parts of your photo that you accidentally erased and it should try to replace the parts of the picture that you did not mean to erase. I have found that it doesn't always fix it completely though so just be careful to keep the pencil that is in the middle of the brush tool off the part that your are trying to cut out and you won't have to worry about anything.

Zoom in and Use the Eraser Tool to Clean Up the Edges

Use the mouse wheel to zoom in closer to see the pixels around the edge of the logo. We will adjust the brush size to a much smaller size and erase individual pixels to clean up the edges nicely before we cut it out. The yellow arrow shows the tips.
Use the mouse wheel to zoom in closer to see the pixels around the edge of the logo. We will adjust the brush size to a much smaller size and erase individual pixels to clean up the edges nicely before we cut it out. The yellow arrow shows the tips.

Eraser Tool to Clean Out the Edges

After using the background eraser tool, then you'll need to zoom in on the photo graph to see up close what parts of the photo still need to be cleaned up around the edges before you cut it out. Use the mouse wheel to zoom in closer to your photo and you can see that there is more than likely still work to be done to have a clean photo to cut out. Remember that you should resize your brush wheel to some of the smallest sizes to clean up the pixels. You can make the brush size so small that you can clean out one pixel at a time if need be. Zoom out of the photo to get a better idea if it is cleaned out well enough or not. If you fail to take the time to cleanly trim around the edges of the photo you will be able to tell when you cut it out and paste it on another background. It just looks really bad and not something that you want to see on your final project.

Select Freehand Selection

Now that we have the edges of the logo cleaned out we will then select freehand selection and edge seeker.
Now that we have the edges of the logo cleaned out we will then select freehand selection and edge seeker.

Edge Seeker Selected Here

Edge seeker will do just what the name states by seeking out the edges of the photo that you have erased the background from.
Edge seeker will do just what the name states by seeking out the edges of the photo that you have erased the background from.

Freehand Selection and Edge Seeker

Now it is time to cut our photo out to paste onto another background. We will select the freehand selection tool that is shown by a little lasso. We also want to be sure that after we check it that we select the Edge Seeker option in the drop down box. This will seek out the edges for us as we click all around the edges of our trimmed out photo.

Click Around the Edges with the Lasso

Click all around the edges that we cleaned around now with the little lasso tool. You should move just a little bit at the time and each time you do you'll see the edge seeker function work with the line sucking up closer to the edge of the photo.
Click all around the edges that we cleaned around now with the little lasso tool. You should move just a little bit at the time and each time you do you'll see the edge seeker function work with the line sucking up closer to the edge of the photo.

Freehand Selection Tool

By clicking a little bit at the time all around the end of our logo, we will see the edge seeker actually seeking out the edges of the logo. When you get back to where we started the process we will double click and then we will see the the logo is ready to be cut out with the little animated "ant trail" all around the outer edges of the logo to show that it is selected and ready to cut out.

Edit > Cut

Once selected with the "ant trail" around the edges, we will go to Edit and then Cut
Once selected with the "ant trail" around the edges, we will go to Edit and then Cut

The Logo is Cut Out and Ready to Be Pasted Elsewhere

Here we have cut the logo out and ready to place it onto a different background. The animated "ant trail" is left behind on the photo here.
Here we have cut the logo out and ready to place it onto a different background. The animated "ant trail" is left behind on the photo here.

Edit > Cut

With the logo now selected and ready to cut out we will go to Edit > Cut and then we'll see that the logo has disappeared from the black background that it was surrounded by and ready to be placed elsewhere.

Open Up Another Background

Now open up another background to place the logo onto.
Now open up another background to place the logo onto.

A Different Background

Once we have the logo cut out we will minimize that photo and open up the new background that we want to put our logo onto. Here we see that I have opened up a blue background with some swirls in it.

Edit > Paste as New Layer

With the new background opened up, we will now go to edit > paste as new layer. There is a good chance the you may think that it did not work right when you do this. Don't worry. If you do not see your image after you pasted, you may need to zoom out with your mouse wheel to see the highlighted box. Grab and drag the edges of the photo you pasted and resize as needed, perhaps with it not even on your new background yet. Make the box small enough to drag the new photo onto the background. Select the Pick tool to grab the edges of the photo you pasted as a new layer and adjust the edges as needed in order to drag the entire picture onto the new background. Again, adjust and resize as needed until you are satisfied.

Final Result

Here we see that we cut out our logo and pasted it onto a new blue background. Be sure to select the pick tool first before trying to move the pasted photo around.
Here we see that we cut out our logo and pasted it onto a new blue background. Be sure to select the pick tool first before trying to move the pasted photo around.

Watch the Background Erase Technique Here

YouTube Demonstration

Above you will see a demonstration of this process discussed in the article. I am the one that made the video a few years ago. It is a more complex photo to work with than the logo. All of the techniques used are the same as they are with the logo. The main difference is that the erasing of the background in the photo of my son as a youth football player was a more difficult process than working with the logo was as you might imagine.

Background Erase Technique Poll

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Example Using this Technique

Here's a nice photo montage using the same background erase technique that one of my students made in class several years ago. I thought he did a nice job on this. You can see how you could get creative with this technique.
Here's a nice photo montage using the same background erase technique that one of my students made in class several years ago. I thought he did a nice job on this. You can see how you could get creative with this technique.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found the information here helpful and I welcome your feedback and comments. Paint Shop Pro's background erase tool and can be used to create some unique photographs. You are only limited by your imagination.

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