The Easy and Amazing Online Tool for Editing Photo Backgrounds

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 9.24.07 AMHere's a common scenario in my world: I take what I think is an amazing photo for my blog, only to notice (after downloading it and looking on a larger screen), that there's a pile of dirty clothing in the background, exposing not only my negligent laundry habits but also my poor photography skills.

A busy, distracting, or hideously colored (as in the example below) background can ruin any photo. So I was thrilled to recently discover an easy online tool (as I've mentioned, I don't do Photoshop) that can fix that problem quickly. Clipping Magic can clean up your background without making it look like someone took a scissors to your image.

A subscription costs $3.99 for 15 photo edits a month (it goes up from there; you can also edit in bulk). I found it to be worth the nominal fee because it's so easy to use, and the results are pretty freakin' good.

Here are some of Clipping Magic's coolest features:

1. Automatically omit background

Clipping Magic is shockingly good at detecting which parts you want to keep and which you want to get rid of. Simply click on the red – or green + icons and swipe your cursor in the general area you want to keep or remove, and it will make a pretty good guess at the boundaries. You can see blow how few marks I had to made to get rid of the entire background. Learn more about the basics here.

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2. Scalpel tool

Just like it sounds, it lets you use your cursor to precisely cut out (or in) any areas that the automatic tool might have missed or gotten to aggressive with. You can manipulate the cuts by dragging from the circular area around a point, or by clicking on the “x,” which will delete the point and create a smooth line where the point once was. Learn more here!

In the example above, I didn't even have to use the scalpel because it worked so well in automatic mode.

3. Refine edges

After using the scalpel or automatic tool, you can experiment with levels of smoothing until the jaggedness is under control. Click on refine, and you can recover any lost corners by adding green or red corner marks. You can also control the amount of feathering and “offset,” i.e. halos. More on that here.

4. Hair!

For fashion and lifestyle bloggers, this is definitely the coolest function. Often, hair can end up looking like someone took a scissors to your photo when you use a clipping tool.

But Clipping Magic has a special hair function that allows you to adjust the edges of hair so it looks more natural against your background. Using a color picker, you choose the colors you want in the foreground, and those you want in the background. You then trace around the perimeter of your hair, and voila, the magic happens. Well, I had to play with it quite a bit, erasing and then retracing several times; adding and subtracting colors (see my outlines below). It's definitely the type of tool that you'll get better at the more you use it.

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I also picked quite a difficult example, because my original background was nearly the same color as my hair. But it did a pretty good job regardless. You can find lots of tips and tricks on hair editing here.

5. Finishing touches

Here, you can adjust color and brightness, plus crop, add a drop shadow or oval shadow, change the background color (or you can leave it transparent if you want to do more editing in another tool), and you can even rotate or straighten your image.

6. Download!

It's time to save your creation! Simply click download and save your image as a PNG or JPG. Here's my final result:


I tried several other background removal tools, and this one is by far the best I came across. Check it out and let me know how it goes!

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3 Responses

  1. sheelagoh

    I hear you. I think we’ve taken some really fabulous shots, sit down to tinker with them and tadah. The watering hose is there. Like, right there. Insert huge sigh. And I really couldn’t be fussed with Photoshop because I really suck at it. So thank you, for introducing this saviour into my (must-improve-photography-and-sight-challenged) world.