How to Crop an Image in Photoshop Without a Background

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As a professional photographer, one post-processing skill you’ll need is knowing how to crop images in Photoshop. It gives you absolute control over how a picture can turn out. This article discusses how to crop an image in Photoshop without a background.

How to Crop an Image in Photoshop Without a Background

Photoshop offers users several ways to crop an image without a background as an essential aspect of photo editing. This feature allows objects on an image to be removed and embedded in another image, giving it an entirely new background.

A DSLR camera connected to a pink laptop being used by a woman wearing a pink striped shirt sitting in a pink armchair

Rated as one of the best post-processing software, Photoshop gives users better editing controls. As such, it offers several alternative methods to crop an image. Below are detailed methods to crop an image in Photoshop to get started.

Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool

The polygonal lasso tool is a type of lasso tool and can also be found in the toolbar menu. The Polygonal Lasso Tool allows you to easily create a custom shape selection around an object in a photo. Here is the list of steps to take to use this tool effectively:

  1. Locate the Lasso Tool, which is usually the third option among the vertically listed icons, and click on it.
  2. To be sure you have the polygonal lasso tool selected, expand the Lasso Tool option and select Polygonal Lasso Tool.
  3. Before cropping the object, ensure that the photo is a regular layer, not a background layer.
  4. To make it a regular layer, go to the layer panel on the right-hand side of the screen. You should see your photo under the Layer tab. Double-click or right-click on the layer with the photo.
  5. A drop-down menu appears with a list of options. Click on the Layer from Background option. A pop-up window screen named New Layer appears on the screen. Name it appropriately and proceed to click on the OK tab.
  6. With the polygonal lasso tool still activated, click around the object you want to crop in the photo.
  7. This action will cause the object you want to crop to be highlighted away from the background. However, since the background was selected, you need to invert the selection.
  8. Go to Select on the Menu bar at the top of the screen. Click on it to reveal a drop-down menu with options. Locate and click on the Inverse option.
  9. At first glance, it would seem like there’s no noticeable effect on the photo. However, you would notice the entire photo is surrounded by a “moving ant” borderline.
  10. To remove the unwanted parts of the photo, press Delete or the Backspace key on the keyboard. Immediately, the unwanted areas of the photo turn into a checkered white and grey, indicating the area is transparent.
  11. You have successfully cropped out the object. Then, you can decide to drag it to another photo or use the copy & paste option to add to a new background.
A cheerful young woman in a teal shirt holds a DSLR camera strapped around her neck while looking at her silver laptop on a table in her apartment.

Using the Quick Selection Tool

Another easy way to crop an image is with this method. The Quick Selection Tool allows users to select multiple parts of the photo. The photo with the object that would be cropped should first be imported into Photoshop.

  1. The tool is also located in the toolbar on the left side of the screen. Usually, it is the fourth icon, located in the same option as the Magic Wand Tool.
  2. Before getting started, ensure you convert the photo into a regular layer.
  3. Upon activation of the Quick Selection Tool, more selection options for the tool will be displayed above the photo. Part of these options allows you to increase and decrease the tool size. When working with larger photos, it’s better to increase the tool size for quicker selection.
  4. To do this, locate and click on an icon with a solid white circle to reveal its options. Then, adjust the Size slider to the left and right to decrease and increase the tool size.
  5. With this done, go back to the image and click on all areas of the photo you don’t want to keep.
  6. Press the Delete or Backspace key to remove the background from the object.

Using the Brush Tool

As a beginner in Photoshop, the brush tool is a better tool to crop an image than using an eraser. In addition, it has the advantage of making easy corrections when mistakes are made instead of using the undo option. To begin, import the photo with the object into Photoshop.

  1. The Brush Tool can also be found in the toolbar menu to the left of your screen. When you activate the tool, ensure the foreground and background color is set to black and white, respectively.
  2. Set the brush hardness to 70% to get a slight feathered feel. To do this, navigate to the Brush Tool option on top of the photo and click on the Hardness option. Set it appropriately to 70%.
  3. You’ll need to add a layer mask to help transform the brush into a non-destructive tool like an eraser. You can do this by clicking on the “Add Layer Mask” icon at the bottom of the Layer menu on the right side of the screen.
  4. After the mask is created, use the brush tool to paint all the areas of the photo you do not want. Then, you can proceed to delete the background area. Then, click and drag the cropped object to the new background you want.
  5. When brushing the background and accidentally using the tool over an area of the object you want, it’s easy to make corrections.
  6. Alternate the foreground and background color from black/white to white/black. You can do this by clicking on the arrow above the foreground/background icon or pressing the keyboard’s X key.
A young woman in a pink shirt showing a photo taken on a Canon DSLR camera to a man who is seated at a white table in a living room

How to Crop an Image in Photoshop Without a Background Using the Photoshop AI

Photoshop has AI that helps make the editing process a lot easier. Although the AI edits may not be perfect, it helps take the stress off, especially for a beginner. Luckily, this makes it quicker and easier to crop an object from a photo.

  1. Navigate to the Menu bar on the screen, locate and click on the Select option.
  2. On the drop-down menu, click on Select and Mark. This workspace allows users to make precise selections and masks.
  3. The Select and Mark workspace has a short list of options on its toolbar, located on the left side of the screen. The tools here allow users to make and edit selections, pan, and zoom around the photo.
  4. To select an object in the photo, activate the Quick Selection Tool and drag it over the photo. Photoshop AI will automatically find the object’s edges to select the object for you. A quicker option is to use the Select Subject option.
  5. When there is more than one obvious object in the photo, you’ll need to inform the AI which object to select. To do this, enable the Object Selection Tool, and have the Mode option set as Lasso.
  6. Then, click and loosely make a selection around the object. Finally, Photoshop will make a selection of the chosen object.

How to Fine-Tune Areas of a Cropped Object

After cropping, an object can sometimes have edges that don’t fit into its new background. Photoshop provides more editing options to fine-tune cropped objects.

There are several adjustment options on the screen’s panel to the right. The option of particular interest is the Global Refinement sliders. These consist of Smooth, Feather, Contrast, and Shift Edge.

Smooth helps smoothen the object’s edge, Contrast makes the edges sharper, Feather helps blur the edges into the background, and Shift Edge helps to mask things like halos around an object. Adjust the sliders to complement the new background.


Being able to crop an object from a photo gives photographers lots of background options to play around with. Photoshop makes cropping easier if you know how to go about it. The article discusses the most straightforward steps to crop an image in Photoshop.