Cloudinary Blog

How to automatically and professionally remove photo backgrounds

Automatically and professionally remove photo backgrounds

It is common for e-commerce, media, and news sites to remove image backgrounds or make them transparent in order to place the main element of the image on either white or color backgrounds. The final result better integrates an image into a site or specific page’s graphic design. For example, a fashion site that presents clothes or shoes should have the main element of a photo (e.g. shoes) extracted from the original image background, then edited to fit the site’s catalogue design and structure.

Remove-The-Background add-on

RTB logo

We are glad to introduce the Remove-The-Background editing add-on, a third party image processing add-on that supports image background removal. This add-on is brought to you by Remove-The-Background, a leading vendor of image editing solution components, including professional background removal, that is performed by a team of human experts. We, at Cloudinary, have tried it multiple times and the results were pretty impressive.

There are tools that can aid in the automatic background change or removal. Nonetheless, if your goal is to create perfect results, utilizing a graphic editor/designer would be your best bet. However, instead of hiring an in-house or freelance designer, Cloudinary’s Remove-The-Background add-on makes this process much simpler. Since the new add-on is fully integrated into Cloudinary's image management pipeline), when you upload an image, you can easily and automatically have it edited by Remove-The-Background experts.

How to remove a photo background with Cloudinary

We’d like to demonstrate this process, starting with the picture below:

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("shoes_orig.jpg")
PHP:
cl_image_tag("shoes_orig.jpg")
Python:
CloudinaryImage("shoes_orig.jpg").image()
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("shoes_orig.jpg")
Java:
cloudinary.url().imageTag("shoes_orig.jpg");
JS:
cloudinary.imageTag('shoes_orig.jpg').toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("shoes_orig.jpg")
React:
<Image publicId="shoes_orig.jpg" >

</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="shoes_orig.jpg" >

</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.BuildImageTag("shoes_orig.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().generate("shoes_orig.jpg");
iOS:
imageView.cldSetImage(cloudinary.createUrl().generate("shoes_orig.jpg")!, cloudinary: cloudinary)
Original shows image

You can begin the process either while the photo is being uploaded to Cloudinary, using the upload API demonstrated in the code sample below, or by using the Admin API for images that have already been uploaded. Simply specify the background_removal parameter in either API.

Ruby:
Cloudinary::Uploader.upload("shoes.jpg",
  :public_id => "shoes",
  :background_removal => 'remove_the_background')
PHP:
\Cloudinary\Uploader::upload("shoes.jpg", 
  array(
    "public_id" => "shoes",
    "background_removal" => "remove_the_background"
  ));
Python:
cloudinary.uploader.upload("shoes.jpg",
  public_id = "shoes",
  background_removal = "remove_the_background")
Node.js:
cloudinary.uploader.upload("shoes.jpg", 
  function(result) { console.log(result); }, 
  { public_id: "shoes",
    background_removal: "remove_the_background" });
Java:
cloudinary.uploader().upload("shoes.jpg", Cloudinary.asMap(
  "public_id", "shoes",
  "background_removal", "remove_the_background"));

As mentioned above, the automatic background change or removal is performed by Remove-The-Background’s team of experts and it could therefore take up to 24 hours to complete. Cloudinary processes the request asynchronously, then when the background removal is complete, the original uploaded image is replaced by an edited one. A backup of the original image is automatically saved to Cloudinary. It is also possible to receive a notification that indicates when the editing process is complete. Below, you can see how the picture's background was removed with great results:

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("shoes.jpg")
PHP:
cl_image_tag("shoes.jpg")
Python:
CloudinaryImage("shoes.jpg").image()
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("shoes.jpg")
Java:
cloudinary.url().imageTag("shoes.jpg");
JS:
cloudinary.imageTag('shoes.jpg').toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("shoes.jpg")
React:
<Image publicId="shoes.jpg" >

</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="shoes.jpg" >

</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.BuildImageTag("shoes.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().generate("shoes.jpg");
iOS:
imageView.cldSetImage(cloudinary.createUrl().generate("shoes.jpg")!, cloudinary: cloudinary)
Resulting image with background removed

Pictures can be further manipulated to fit your own graphics and design using Cloudinary's manipulation URLs. For example, below, you can see the same image cropped to 250 x 250, with increased saturation.

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("shoes.jpg", :width=>250, :height=>250, :effect=>"saturation:80", :crop=>"fill")
PHP:
cl_image_tag("shoes.jpg", array("width"=>250, "height"=>250, "effect"=>"saturation:80", "crop"=>"fill"))
Python:
CloudinaryImage("shoes.jpg").image(width=250, height=250, effect="saturation:80", crop="fill")
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("shoes.jpg", {width: 250, height: 250, effect: "saturation:80", crop: "fill"})
Java:
cloudinary.url().transformation(new Transformation().width(250).height(250).effect("saturation:80").crop("fill")).imageTag("shoes.jpg");
JS:
cloudinary.imageTag('shoes.jpg', {width: 250, height: 250, effect: "saturation:80", crop: "fill"}).toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("shoes.jpg", {width: 250, height: 250, effect: "saturation:80", crop: "fill"})
React:
<Image publicId="shoes.jpg" >
  <Transformation width="250" height="250" effect="saturation:80" crop="fill" />
</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="shoes.jpg" >
  <cl-transformation width="250" height="250" effect="saturation:80" crop="fill">
  </cl-transformation>
</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.Transform(new Transformation().Width(250).Height(250).Effect("saturation:80").Crop("fill")).BuildImageTag("shoes.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().transformation(new Transformation().width(250).height(250).effect("saturation:80").crop("fill")).generate("shoes.jpg");
iOS:
imageView.cldSetImage(cloudinary.createUrl().setTransformation(CLDTransformation().setWidth(250).setHeight(250).setEffect("saturation:80").setCrop("fill")).generate("shoes.jpg")!, cloudinary: cloudinary)
250x250 cropped shows image with background removed

This add-on can remove the background from any type of photo, including pictures of people.

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg")
PHP:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg")
Python:
CloudinaryImage("woman.jpg").image()
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("woman.jpg")
Java:
cloudinary.url().imageTag("woman.jpg");
JS:
cloudinary.imageTag('woman.jpg').toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("woman.jpg")
React:
<Image publicId="woman.jpg" >

</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="woman.jpg" >

</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.BuildImageTag("woman.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().generate("woman.jpg");
iOS:
imageView.cldSetImage(cloudinary.createUrl().generate("woman.jpg")!, cloudinary: cloudinary)
Original woman photo Woman photo with background removed

The images below have been dynamically created using Cloudinary's manipulation URLs. 200x200 face-detection based thumbnails were created. The image on the left is a thumbnail of the original image while the image on the right is a thumbnail with the background removed.

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", :width=>200, :height=>200, :gravity=>"face", :crop=>"thumb")
PHP:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", array("width"=>200, "height"=>200, "gravity"=>"face", "crop"=>"thumb"))
Python:
CloudinaryImage("woman.jpg").image(width=200, height=200, gravity="face", crop="thumb")
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {width: 200, height: 200, gravity: "face", crop: "thumb"})
Java:
cloudinary.url().transformation(new Transformation().width(200).height(200).gravity("face").crop("thumb")).imageTag("woman.jpg");
JS:
cloudinary.imageTag('woman.jpg', {width: 200, height: 200, gravity: "face", crop: "thumb"}).toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {width: 200, height: 200, gravity: "face", crop: "thumb"})
React:
<Image publicId="woman.jpg" >
  <Transformation width="200" height="200" gravity="face" crop="thumb" />
</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="woman.jpg" >
  <cl-transformation width="200" height="200" gravity="face" crop="thumb">
  </cl-transformation>
</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.Transform(new Transformation().Width(200).Height(200).Gravity("face").Crop("thumb")).BuildImageTag("woman.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().transformation(new Transformation().width(200).height(200).gravity("face").crop("thumb")).generate("woman.jpg");
iOS:
imageView.cldSetImage(cloudinary.createUrl().setTransformation(CLDTransformation().setWidth(200).setHeight(200).setGravity("face").setCrop("thumb")).generate("woman.jpg")!, cloudinary: cloudinary)
Thumbnail of original woman photo Thumbnail of woman photo with background removed

Remove The Background supports additional editing profiles that can be specified via Cloudinary’s API (e.g. keep/remove shadow, transparent/white background, and more). Please contact us if you need a custom editing profile. For more details about this add-on check out our Remove-The-Background add-on documentation.

Final Notes

Cloudinary’s Remove-The-Background add-on helps preserve your site or app’s professional look, without the need for in-house graphic designers or long and complex editing processes. Customers of the Basic plan or higher can try the Remove-The-Background add-on for free then later subscribe to a plan that best meets your specific requirements.

If you don't have a Cloudinary account yet, sign up for a free account here.

You can also refer to the visual web resources on adding and removing background of an image.

Recent Blog Posts

CoreMedia Adds Cloudinary to its CoreMedia Studio Platform

Today we’re pleased to announce a new technology partnership with CoreMedia, a leading Content Experience Platform provider. CoreMedia users can now leverage Cloudinary’s web-based digital asset management (DAM) solution to organize, search, manage and optimize their media assets, including images and videos, and to orchestrate, preview and deliver digital experiences consistently and optimized across all channels and browsers. The official press release is available here.

Read more
Facial-Surveillance System for Restricted Zones

In Africa, where Internet access and bandwidth are limited, it’s not cost-effective or feasible to establish and maintain a connectivity for security and surveillance applications. That challenge makes it almost impossible to build a service that detects, with facial-recognition technology, if someone entering a building is authorized to do so. To meet the final-year research requirement for my undergraduate studies, I developed a facial-surveillance system. Armed with a background in computer vision, I decided to push the limits and see if I could build a surveillance system that does not require recording long video footage.

Read more
Complex Networks Case Study

Complex Networks has been using Cloudinary since 2014 to manage and optimize images across seven websites and two mobile apps, making editorial workflow more efficient, improving page performance and load time, and increasing user engagement. Cloudinary was instrumental in enabling Complex Networks to redesign its web properties. Without the flexibility that Cloudinary offers to both creative and development teams, it would not have been possible for Complex Networks to achieve such a fast time to market.

Read more
Automate Placeholder Generation and Accelerate Page Loads

If you run a Google search on LQIP you’ll see very few relevant articles, very little guidance, and definitely no Wikipedia articles. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the feedback on LQIP we have gathered from the community and suggest and open for conversation a few approaches based on the built-in capabilities of the Cloudinary service. Specifically, we’ll explain what LQIP are, where they are best used, and how you can leverage them to accelerate page loads and optimize user experience.

Read more
Best Practices for Optimizing Web Page Speed

If you're like most consumers today, you engage more with pictures or videos on a website than text. The stats don't lie - four times as many visitors would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and sites with compelling images average twice as many views as text-heavy ones.

Read more
A day of fun with Girls Who Code and Cloudinary

During both my computer science studies and work in the tech field, there have not been a lot of women present. While our ranks have grown, women still make up only a small percentage. In many ways, I think the traditionally male-dominated world can be intimidating to women and girls who may be interested in pursuing these types of tech careers.

Read more