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Erasing Backgrounds and Combining Photos

Erasing Backgrounds and Combining Photos

Erasing or changing the background behind complex shapes such as fur, hair, trees, etc, can be tedious and sometimes impossible to mask manually. With MAGIX Photo & Graphic Designer this can be done with ease using the new automated background erase feature. You only need to indicate the approximate areas to erase (with the Eraser tool) and the areas to protect (with the Mask Painter Tool), and then click the ‘Erase background’ button.

Happy couple with chocolate and lilies

In this photo, the background was removed from a photo of lilies and a photo of chocolates and then those images have been placed on this photo to give the happy couple some flowers and chocolates.

Download the trial version of MAGIX Photo & Graphic Designer and I will show you how easy it is to do this.

Open up MAGIX Photo & Graphic Designer and then drag a photo onto the page. With today’s digital cameras your photo is probably going to be quite large so select to import it in a reduced size.

Many photos like this chocolate example are on a plain background, which you may want to erase, so the objects can be placed on a different background.

Eraser Tool1. Use the Eraser Tool to roughly paint over the background parts of the picture that you want to erase. Be careful not to paint on any of the foreground that you want to keep.

Tip: You can select the size of your brush in the tool options on the top Infobar or you can use zoom instead (Ctrl+Wheel) to vary the relative size of the brush.

Tip: If you make a mistake hold Shift to un-paint the mistake.


Because there is a high contrast between background and foreground you just need to erase a few of the white areas to tell the program what the background is.

Mask Painrter Tool2. Select the Mask Painter Tool and paint over some of the parts of the foreground you want to keep whilst trying not to mask over any background area.

Tip: Be sure to cover the various different shades of colour in the foreground. If the foreground is all a similar colour then you only need to cover part of it with the mask.


The two marked parts – erased some of the background and masked some of the foreground.

3. Select the Eraser Tool again and then click on ‘Erase background’ on the top Infobar. Your photo is now on a transparent background.

4. If you wish to add a colour to the background, put your mouse pointer on the background and right-click, then select ‘Page background’ and ‘Edit page background’. Click on the colour of your choice.


By changing the page colour you can test the result on different backgrounds.

Tip: If it didn’t work as well as you hoped, or you made an error, just click Undo, and you’ll get the erased and masked areas back – then just repeat the above steps to try erasing or masking another area.

I shall now show you how to process a more complex photo such as this one that has a varied foreground and background. Open a new blank document by clicking the + tab at the end of the document tabs.


A photo with a more varied background requires a little more care to mark the background and foreground

Use the eraser tool as step 1 above. The background is more varied in colour so you will need to cover more of the area including areas between the flowers and leaves.

Tip: Use zoom (Ctrl+mouse wheel) to enlarge the photo so you can mask in more detail, especially in the areas between the leaves and the flower.


I’ve erased more of the background to get the best results.

Use the Mask Painter Tool as step 2 above, being sure to zoom in to cover all the different colours and shades. In my photo I paid particular attention to the orange stamens and the small black stigma.


I’ve masked more of the foreground to get the best results.

Select the Eraser Tool again and then click on ‘Erase background’ on the top Infobar. Notice that my lilies have retained the orange stamens and the small black stigma.


I’ve masked more of the foreground to get the best results.

Post erase touch-up:
With complex images, especially where there’s poor contrast between background and foreground, it may be that you need to do some tidying up of the result. Using the Eraser brush (you will be in the Eraser tool still), you can erase any unwanted remaining areas. In my image I have an uneven edge on the leaf so, using the eraser brush, I set the softness of the brush to be 50% using the softness slider on the Infobar, (this softens the edge of the brush so that the edge of the erased background will blend in more) and the smoothing to be 55% (this adjusts how accurately the nib follows your mouse movement), which enabled me to clean up the edge of the leaf.


Zoom in using the Ctrl+mouse wheel to allow erasing of the detail.

Now that the image has a transparent background I shall place the cut-out images on top of another photo. I can simply copy the cut out photos and paste on top of any other image on another page. Or I can just drag a new image onto the existing page and place it ‘under’ using ‘Arrange’ and then ‘Move to back’. And of course I can use the usual Selector Tool to resize and rotate and the flip controls to position the cut out images in any required direction.

In this case I have dragged a new image of a couple onto a new page, then copy and paste my lilies onto the new image and position them (I flipped the lilies to align the straight edge to the right of the picture). I also added the chocolates. What a happy couple!

Happy couple with chocolate and lilies

MAGIX Photo & Graphic Designer is the most flexible and time-saving all-in-one creative tool that provides a range of photo, graphic design and DTP functions. At an unbeatable value for money cost, it’s ideal for private and professional use: at home, in clubs, in academic institutions, and at work.

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