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(Last updated on January 9th, 2023)

Does a photo look good in the foreground but not so good in the background? Canva can help clean up images by getting rid of unwanted backgrounds. We’ll cover how this design app can make this easy fix for photographs that need some transparent space.

mountain with sunset background
You don’t have to move mountains to remove backgrounds in Canva.

Background Removal in Canva

The primary usage of Canva is for simple graphic design. Dragging and dropping photos and graphics makes it easy to use. It’s also handy for a few common graphic design needs, such as removing the background from a photograph.

Much like most aspects of Canva, background removal is easy to apply. It’s as simple as pressing a button and as detailed as painting out the areas you want to be deleted. Learning it doesn’t take much time, and it can be a real time-saver for those who need to edit images in a hurry.

It should be noted that Canva can only remove the background on the premium version. You won’t be able to use this tool in the free version. So before we start, purchasing a subscription for the Premium version should be done first.

How To Remove The Background on Canva For Your Computer

Let’s go through the step-by-step process for removing the background from a photograph in Canva.

  1. Let’s start by bringing the image onto the Canva canvas area and selecting it. For this example, an image of a mountain range has been uploaded. The sky will be the background we aim to remove.
Canva mountain photo
The image should look like this once we’ve uploaded it and selected it for our canvas.
  1. Locate the toolbar above the editing area with your image selected and find the Edit Image option. Click it to open up options for editing your image.
Canva mountain photo edit image options
When you click Edit Image, you should see these options.
  1. Now navigate to the side panel and find the button for BG Remover. Click it and get ready for the background to be gone.
  2. With some rendering time for the program to recognize the background, the photo should then have the background removed.
Canva mountain photo background removed
Here is our photo with the sky completely removed after the Background Remover has been applied.

If the background isn’t too dense with detail, it should be easily removed. In this case, Canva seems to have accurately read the sky as the element to drop. If all this looks good, you can click Apply to finish the job.

If, however, the background doesn’t look completely removed or there’s too much removed, don’t click apply yet. There are some extra options we can use to fine-tune the background removal process.

Using Brushes To Remove The Background

Sometimes the smart technology of Canva doesn’t entirely erase all the background or too much of it. It might be a better option to remove the background with a brush. Thankfully, Canva has this option to perfect the background removal process.

Here’s how to paint in more of the background from our photo where the BG Remover has already been used.

  1. After clicking the BG Remover, click on the Erase or Restore tool. If you want to erase more of the background, select Erase. If you’re going to erase less, choose Restore. For this example, we’ll use the Restore brush to see if we can bring back some of the clouds.
Canva mountain photo background restore brush selected
Here we have the Restore brush selected for adding back in more of the background.
  1. With your brush selected, you can now click and drag over the background of your image.
Canva mountain photo background restore brush used
Here is what our background looks like when we paint over it with the Restore brush.
  1. If your brush is too big or too small, you can alter it with the Brush Size slider.
  2. Select Show Original Image if you still want to see the original photo to compare and contrast while removing the background.
Canva mountain photo background restore brush show original
With the Show Original Image option enabled, we can see the difference.
  1. When you’ve finished drawing over the areas you want to be added or removed, click Done on the toolbar and then Apply on the bottom of the side panel to finalize your changes.
Canva mountain photo background restore brush done
Our background now has some of the clouds restored.

It should be noted that brushes erasing or adding to an image are not the best for detecting edges. Most users will likely zoom in close to make the removal pixel-perfect. Keep this aspect in mind if you edit detailed photographs, as they take extra time for background removal. 

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How To Remove The Background on Canva For Your Mobile Device

Background removal works on the mobile version of Canva as well. It’s a similar process that involves fewer steps and tapping instead of clicking. Here’s how to remove a background on the mobile app.

Canva mobile remove background
Look for the background removal tool in the Effects area of the mobile app.
  1. Start by tapping on the image you want to edit. Make sure it’s adequately selected and has the bounding box around it.
  2. Find the toolbar below the editing area. Find the Effects button and tap it. It should look like a magic wand.
  3. With the Effects open, select the BG Remover. The photo should now be in the process of removing the background.
  4. After some processing time, your background should be removed.

For painting out the background after using the background removal tool, it’s recommended to do this on the computer.

Tips & Tricks

Canva mountain photo background with new background
Using the Send Backward function, we can place a new sky for our mountains.
  • Try Cropping: Check your image to see if you can get away with simply cropping the photo to hide the background.
  • Get in Close: Zoom in on your canvas when using the erase brush tool to ensure you’re getting an accurate edge for background removal.
  • Don’t Forget The Filters: After removing the background, your foreground may not fit the same color or lighting scheme for your new background. Tweak the Edit Image settings to make your foreground blend better and look less like it was cut out and pasted into a new background.
  • Adding a New Background: After you’ve separated your foreground, you can add a new background by adding a new photo and sending it to the back by right-clicking and selecting Send Backward.

Are There Alternative Apps For Background Removal?

Canva is one of many options for removing backgrounds from photos. Here are some alternative recommendations and how they work.

Remove BG mountain with no bg
Here is what that same mountain photo looks like when we upload it to Remove.bg
  • Remove.bg: If you’d prefer to remove backgrounds in an app you don’t have to download, a decent choice is the website remove.bg. This website is designed to remove backgrounds from images. All you have to do is upload your image, and the process will start. The program works surprisingly well with most photos.
  • Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop’s tools for background removal have only grown easier to use over time. Innovative technology in the program can automatically detect and remove the background, either with selection tools or a brush that automatically detects the background to get rid of. Photoshop is priced at $20.99/month, so it’s a bit costly.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements: Photoshop Elements is an easier-to-use version of Photoshop. It takes less time to learn and has all the essential tools and features for background removal. It’s also a cheaper app in the long run, as it only costs a flat fee of $99.99 for a lifetime purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove the background in Canva for free?

Canva doesn’t have a way to remove backgrounds in the free version. You will have to purchase a subscription to the premium version to use the background removal tools.

Why can Canva not remove the background?

Canva is free for doing basic graphic design projects with mostly drag-and-drop functions. Background removal is considered a more advanced feature by the program and requires purchasing the premium version to use.

Can you remove backgrounds on the Canva app?

Canva can remove the background if you have the premium version. The background remover tool works by automatically detecting and removing the background and allowing you brush tools for erasing.

How do I change the background in Canva?

To change the background in Canva, start using the background remover tool. After removing the background, you can upload a new background image or use one of Canva’s many. Right-click on that image and choose to Send To Back.

How do I remove the background from my Canva phone?

If you’re using the premium version of Canva, you can remove the background of an image on your phone. Tap the BG Remover button in the Effects menu, and your background should automatically be removed. If not all of the background is removed, you may have to use the erasing brush tools on a computer instead of a phone.

How do I delete part of an image in Canva?

Canva allows you to erase parts of an image using a brush. This feature is only available in the premium version, which you’ll have to pay for.

Can you cut out an image in Canva?

While you can’t cut part of an image out in Canva, you can remove the parts around it with an eraser tool. If you have the premium version of Canva, all you have to do is find the background remover tool, click it, and then remove or add to the image with the brush tools.

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