Quick way to remove background without using lasso tool in Photoshop

As digital artists, sometimes your client will just give you a crappy badly compressed jpeg logo, telling you this is the best they have, and expect you to do miracle out of it. And with a flatten and rectangular jpeg image, it is so limited to extend your creativity with it. Of course you don’t want to spend too much time to match their logo type face and colour and reconstruct it, and you are too lazy (perhaps not worth the effort) to slowly trace it out using Lasso tool… Luckily, it is not impossible to do this.

Original logo

lousy jpeg compression

What you will need to have is of course Adobe Photoshop. And what you will learn in this tutorial is to edge out the unwanted background using masking instead of lasso tool.

Step 1

Duplicate the layer of the logo (drag the Background layer into create new layer icon ) and turn off the visibility of the new layer. Click the bottom layer as we are going to work on that layer now.

Step 2: Cleaning up

Desaturate the layer (⌘+SHIFT+U/CTRL+SHIFT+U)

We’re going to clean up the jpeg compression artifacts and make the logo into purely black and white: Adjust the levels (⌘L/CTRL+L) and drag the left slider a bit to the right until the logo become purely black and white while still preserving the smooth edges.

Jpeg artifacts gone


Step 3

Invert the colour (⌘I/CTRL-I), select the whole layer (⌘A/CTRL-A) and copy (⌘C/CTRL-C).

Step 4

Turn on the visibility of the upper layer:

go to Channels window

Step 5

Create a new channel by clicking create new channel icon and paste it into the new channel (⌘V/CTRL-V)

Hold the ⌘/CTRL key and click on the new channel thumbnail to get the selection.

Step 6

Now switch back to Layers window, delete the Background layer by dragging it into the delete layer icon .

Step 7

While still having the selection, click the Add Layer Mask button

DONE. Now you have the logo without the white background. It is non destructive because you can ‘disable’ the layer mask anytime to reveal the original version of the logo.

With the transparency background, you can simply come out with unlimited effects of your own:

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