Post-Processing » Affinity Photo Tutorials » How to Remove a Background in Affinity Photo (2021)

How to Remove a Background in Affinity Photo (2021)

One of the major tasks in some types of photo editing tasks for graphic designers and photographers is to remove a background in Affinity Photo. You might need it to remove the background completely for a product photo that needs to have a white background or a transparent background for a magazine cover. In this Affinity Photo tutorial for removing backgrounds, we will cover everything you need to know.

Step-by-Step: How to Remove a Background in Affinity Photo

You can get a quick view of the process in the table of content below, and jump to any section you want.

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Step 1: Open the Image

You should first find and open the image you want to edit with Affinity Photo to remove the background. We will use this Scottish Highland Bull as our model.

Our sample image for removing a background in Affinity Photo

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__CONFIG_colors_palette__{“active_palette”:0,”config”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“name”:”Main Accent”,”parent”:-1}},”gradients”:[]},”palettes”:[{“name”:”Default Palette”,”value”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“val”:”var(–tcb-color-4)”,”hsl”:{“h”:46,”s”:0.8692,”l”:0.01}}},”gradients”:[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__

Step 2: Unlock the Background Layer

Before you can make changes to the background layer you need to unlock it. Go to the Layers Panel, and click on the little padlock icon next to the background pixel layer.

unlock layer

Step 3: Rasterize and Trim

In order to be able to remove the background completely from your image, and make the background transparent, you need to right-click on the background layer and select Rasterize & Trim…

This allows you to edit the image on a pixel level.

rasterize and trim layer in Affinity Photo

Step 4: Create a Selection using the Selection Brush Tool

A magic tool for creating selections in Affinity Photo is the Selection Brush Tool. Select it from the left side toolbar or use the shortcut W to activate it. Any selection tool in Affinity Photo can work, but we’ll use the Selection Brush Tool in this tutorial.

Create a selection of the subject you want to keep by clicking and dragging. You can also select the background directly if your image has good contrast between the background and the subject. However, the sample I choose to work on is a bit more difficult.

Step 5: Refine the Selection

Once you have a fairly good selection, click on the Refine Selection button in the Context Toolbar.

Refine selection

When you click the Refine button, the dialog box opens with an overlay mode, the selection being visible, while the non-selection being red.

Now slowly start to brush around the hair area, letting Affinity do its smart selections. As you might see, the selection is being re-calculated, and the edges are refined.

Important Tip: Refine the edge selection in small steps

Working with Refine Brush in Affinity Photo (The brush is calculating after you have painted over the areas)

Start to brush from the areas you are sure to be selected, even if it gets repeated, and slowly hover around the edges.

Change brush size with the shortcut keys [ and ] as the need arises. For delicate areas, a small brush size is a great idea.

Refining selections is indispensable in removing backgrounds in Affinity Photo making it look more natural
Re-refining in Black and White Matte Mode – looking at issues and trying for a smoother selection.

When you are ready simply click on Apply, you will have a precise selection of your subject (or background if you selected that directly.

Step 6: Invert the Selection (if you selected the subject)

To invert a selection, go to Select > Invert Pixel Selection. If you have selected the background directly using the Selection Brush Tool, you can simply skip this step.

Invert pixel selection

Step 7: Press Delete

With the selection active, press the Delete key to get rid of the selection. This leaves you with a blank, transparent background. You can now insert it on a white or black background or whatever you want.

Changing the background enables you to see where you still need to work on your selection
Final Selection on black background.

Step 8: Export your Image with a Transparent Background

If you want, you can leave the background transparent and save it as a .png file. This allows you to preserve the transparent background when you use it in Affinity Designer.

Concluding words

As you can see, you can use Affinity Photo to cut out backgrounds in even the most difficult scenarios.

What is your preferred Affinity Photo background removal method?

1 thought on “How to Remove a Background in Affinity Photo (2021)”

  1. Affinity is so complicated. In photoshop I used to use the selection tool to select a colour and click delete and it was gone leaving the wonderful transparent background. I really cannot find out how to do such a simple task in affinity photo.

    I am not a photographer. I use it to prepare images for doing my paintings so I do not need these fine adjustments.


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