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How to Remove Background in Affinity Photo
  • By Design Bundles
  • 03 Sep 2021
  • 10 Mins
  • Affinity Tutorials

How to Remove Background in Affinity Photo

In 3 steps we will show you how to remove the background of your image in Affinity Photo.

Removing a background in Affinity Photo can be done a number of ways. You may want to remove a background because of distracting elements. Or even to replace it with another background. When removing the background you want a non-destructive option. This way you can adjust the areas removed at any time. You can do this using the Selection Brush tool and a mask.

In this tutorial we will show you how to remove a background in Affinity Photo. We are using a photo of a fresh fruit drink but you can use any commercial use photo you like.

Step 1 - Use the Selection Brush

A quick and easy method for removing a background is by using the Selection Brush. We will be creating a non-destructive layer and refining it.

Begin by opening your image in Affinity Photo. Do this by going to File and selecting your image. Once open, go to the left side panel and click on the Selection Brush.

Selection Brush Affinity Photo

At the top of the screen be sure to tick the box that says Snap to Edges. This will make selection a little easier. Adjust the brush size by using the bracket keys [ and ]. The bigger the brush the wider your selection with each click. We set our brush to 69%.

Now, click + drag your mouse over the area you want to select. Since Snap to Edges is enabled, the selection will easily snap to areas of contrast.

Create a selection Affinity Photo

Carry on with the selection until the entire area is selected. If you want to decrease a selected area, click the Subtract option top left. If you want to increase a selected area, click Add. Adjust the size of your brush for smaller areas as you go along. Don't worry about a perfect selection right now as we will be refining it in the next step.

Add Subtract selection Affinity Photo

Step 2 - Refine your selection

Now that we have a rough selection we can refine it. At the top of the screen click on Refine to bring up the options panel.

Refine the selection Affinity Photo

Adjust the Preview option

When the panel opens, the unselected area of your photo will turn red. You will see next to Preview that Overlay is selected. You can click on the drop down menu and cycle through the options.

Refine options panel Affinity

Black matte will replace the red with a solid black background. White matte does the same but with a solid white background. Black and White will turn the selected area white and the unselected area black. Transparent turns the unselected area transparent.

For this tutorial we chose White matte so that the background was white. This is not going to create a white background when a mask is applied. It only acts as a visual aid to give you an idea of what your selection will look like.

Adjust Refine preview Affinity

Adjust Refine options

The Refine options will depend on how well the initial selection worked. Here we have a few artifacts that we want to get rid of.

Remove artifacts when refining

With the options set as is, you can paint over areas that need refining. Affinity Photo will try it's best to refine those areas.

Paint areas to refine Affinity

You may find that painting over the areas don't exactly work. You can then try adjusting the Border Width. Here the border width is expanded and the selection then adjusted. Any artifacts that won't budge can still removed once the mask is applied.

Once you are done painting and adjusting, go the Output option and select Mask. This will apply the selection as a mask to the photo.

Mask output selection Affinity

Step 3 - Edit the Mask

The selection is now applied as a Mask. This can be viewed under the Layers Panel on the right hand side. The Mask is placed under the original layer as a Child Layer. To access it click on the arrow and then click on the Mask to activate it. When you do this, you will see the two circles under Color at the top change. They will become black and white.

On the left side panel click on the Paint Brush Tool. Click on the black color and paint over any areas you want covered. Black conceals parts of the photo while white does the opposite.

Paint on mask selection Affinity

To better see what areas are visible and those concealed, press Alt + click on the Mask. Your image will turn black and white. Now you can easily paint over areas you want covered and adjust any that shouldn't be. Remember to change between black (to hide) and white (to reveal). To quickly do this use the keyboard shortcut X to switch between the two.

Masking options Affinity Photo

You can at any time just click on the photo thumbnail to leave this mode. Once you are done you are able to move the object around the canvas. You may find that when clicking and dragging nothing happens. On the photo layer is a small lock. Click this to unlock your layer and move the object around.

Add a new background if you want. We used a pillow mockup to create a summery afternoon feel.

Final result background removed

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on removing backgrounds in Affinity Photo. If you, did be sure to check out removing a background in Illustrator and changing a background in Affinity Designer.


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