If you professionally edit images for web design, print, or digital art, chances are that Adobe Photoshop is an integral part of your workflow. For those who fall into this category, good news. With remove.bg for Adobe Photoshop, you can now quickly (and cleanly) remove the background from any photo directly within Photoshop with just a single click. Until recently, completing this task in Photoshop took several steps and it usually proved rather tedious. The best part is it’s FREE! (although you’re are pretty limited with what you can do on the free plan).
What does it do?
- Upload the whole image or the current selection to remove.bg
- Add the cutout photo as a new layer
- Provide a layer mask to allow for easy corrections and adjustments
How does it work?
The plugin uses the remove.bg API, so you need an API key and an active Internet connection to actually use the service. Basically, everything is done on a server on their end and likely works in a similar fashion to server-side based tools like Flixel & Plotograph (cinemagraphs). I’ve reached out to the dev team and am currently waiting to hear back with more details, so I’ll update this post when that happens!
- Download the Plug-in: remove.bg for Adobe Photoshop at Adobe Exchange
- Get your API key (the first 50 API calls in regular size each month are free) and enter it in the plugin settings.
- Go: Remove any background with a single click.
Using the app & the Free vs. Paid Plans
On their Free plan you get one “HD” image and 50 API calls (through Adobe Photoshop), per month. You also get an unlimited amount of “regular” images working directly through the remove.bg website. Here’s the thing, however; a regular image—according to remove.bg—is only .25 megapixels (625×400 pixels). Conversely, a large size 4k maxes out at 10 megapixels (4000×2500 pixels). If all you’re doing is basic web images and graphics, I can see this being pretty useful, but if you’re a large volume wedding shooter or portrait photographer…well…even most phone cameras are larger than 10 megapixels so I’m not quite sure the reasoning behind this limitation. I reached out to the Remove.BG team and they sent me this response;
The limitation of 10 Megapixels is due to technical reasons. Higher resolutions require exponentially more processing resources – both time, hardware and scalable systems. We are working on support for higher resolutions in the future though, particularly for use in photography, where working with higher than 10 megapixel images is very common.
I ran some quick tests on the free account and I’m not going to lie, i’m VERY impressed with how blazing fast the masks were made and how accurate they were even with very confusing and busy backgrounds. The only issues I had were when the clothes or skin tones blended in with the backgrounds
As you can see in my image above, the confusion remove.bg had was with the green hat against the green of the tree behind her. otherwise the mask was actually pretty impressively accurate. I’ve cut and cropped the remove.bg layer incredibly just to show the comparison.
Now, on a more solid background like with a studio based shoot, the masking is incredibly good. Check out this comparison with this image from my friend Yev Z Photography with the original being on the right (as shot in a studio), and the remove.bg version on the left.
These took less than 2 seconds, and other than the clear image size issue, the masks are insanely accurate.
The paid plans are pretty pricey in my opinion, but I suppose it does make sense if you’re doing a lot of catalogue-based imagery for small scale use. The prices range from as little as $9 per month up to nearly $10,000 per month on the high end! ALL of this depends significantly on the amount of photoshop API calls you’d be making per month, and to hit that 10k mark you’d be production and masking over 40,000 images each month. Not many of us are at that point, but still.
If you’d like more information on their paid plans, you can find out all the details on the remove.bg pricing plans here.
Who Is remove.bg For?
Well, in its current state and pricing scheme, it’s clearly best suited for high volume, low resolution product/catalogue shooters who work in a clean and controlled environment that require a lot of clipping paths to be done. In that situation, it’s already kind of perfect. However, for those of us who work in high resolution and deliver in that high resolution, it’s more a fun thing to play with from time to time. Regardless, I feel like it’s worth playing with at least once (since it’s free) to see just what it can do with your challenging images. The good news is, as mentioned in the quote from the dev team, they are working on providing service for higher resolution files in the future. When that option will be available…I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
On that note, if you’ve used this app or are going to try it, let me know what you think in the comments below and include some of your image masks/screenshots to see how it worked.
*All images shared with permission from remove.bg & the respected artists. Do not share or reuse images without direct permission.