How to Remove Background in Adobe Illustrator

Easy Background Removal in Minutes (Tutorial)

Removing backgrounds in Adobe Illustrator can be essential for various design tasks, such as creating logos, preparing images for brochures, or simply isolating an object. Unlike raster-based software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator works with vectors, which can make the process a bit different. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you remove backgrounds in Illustrator:

Table of Contents

Step 1: Open Your Image

First, launch Adobe Illustrator and open the image from which you want to remove the background. You can do this by going to File → Open and selecting your image.

Step 2: Embed the Image (If Necessary)

If your image is linked (not embedded in the document), you'll need to embed it. Click on the image to select it, and in the Properties panel (or Control panel at the top), click the Embed button.

Step 3: Use the Image Trace Feature

With your image selected, go to the Window → Image Trace. This will convert your raster image into a vector. In the Image Trace panel, select a preset that best matches your goal (for simple backgrounds, "High Fidelity Photo" or "Low Fidelity Photo" can work well).

Step 4: Adjust Trace Settings

Adjust the settings in the Image Trace panel to get the best result. You might need to play with the Paths, Corners, and Noise sliders under “Advanced” to maintain the image's details while minimizing the background complexity.

Step 5: Expand the Image

Once you're satisfied with the trace result, go to the Object → Expand, and click on OK.This will convert the traced image into individual vector paths.

Step 6: Use the Direct Selection Tool

Select the Direct Selection Tool (A) from the toolbar. Click and drag over your image to select parts of the background. You might need to zoom in and work carefully to select only the background elements.

Alternatively, you can show/hide your layers to determine which are part of the background and which aren’t.

Step 7: Delete the Background

After selecting the unwanted background parts, hit the Delete key to remove them. You may need to repeat the selection and deletion process several times to clean up all background areas.

Step 8: Refine Edges

Once the background is removed, you may need to refine the edges of your foreground object. Use the Direct Selection Tool to adjust anchor points and smooth out the edges.

Step 9: Save Your Work

Finally, save your file. Go to File → Save As and choose the appropriate format for your needs. If you plan to continue working on the design in Illustrator, saving as an .AI file is best. For web use, consider exporting as . PNG or .SVG to maintain transparency.

Tips for Better Results:

  • Zoom in for finer control when selecting and deleting background elements.

  • Use the Magic Wand Tool (Y) to select large areas of similar color to speed up the process.

  • Practice makes perfect. Getting comfortable with the Direct Selection Tool and anchor points can greatly improve your efficiency.

Removing backgrounds in Illustrator might seem daunting at first, especially if you're used to raster graphics editors. However, with practice, these steps will become second nature, and you'll appreciate the flexibility and precision that vector graphics offer.

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