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How to Easily Remove Backgrounds and Objects from Photos with Adobe Photoshop Express for Free

Preparing images for animation with Photoshop Express.
Preparing images for animation
with Photoshop Express.
If you're like me, when you hear the name Adobe, you immediately start thinking about cheaper, non subscription based, alternative software. Regardless of how you feel about Adobe subscriptions, there's no denying their actual software is really good. Particularly Photoshop which is as much a verb as it is a photo editing/artist tool.

Adobe Photoshop Express is a free, cloud based photo editor, that gathers together a select few of Photoshop's most useful photo editing features for you to use as much as you like. You will have to sign up for a free Adobe Account to unlock all of its features but you will not be billed for anything or be funnelled into any kind of paid plan. You'll just see the occasional Adobe ad as you use Photoshop Express.

[Note: The web based version of this app no longer exists and has been replace with a free mobile app version with similar capabilities. Click here for more information].

There's nothing here that you probably couldn't achieve in other free Photoshop alternatives like Krita or Photopea but, if you've never used those apps, and you just want something easy to remove a background or do some smart touch ups to a damaged image then Photoshop express is as easy as it gets.

To demonstrate, below are the steps I used to create all the various elements for a layered Space Background for Cartoon Animator 4 using public domain images by NASA that you can find on Flickr.

1. Removing the Astronaut's background - Open the image in Photoshop Express. Select the Crop and Straighten menu item and crop the image.
1. Removing the Astronaut's background - Open the image in Photoshop Express.
Select the Crop and Straighten menu item and crop the image.

2. Now click the Remove Background menu item and let the application do its magic.
2. Now click the Remove Background menu item and let the application do its magic.

3. Click the Apply button to finish giving your image a transparent background. Then use the Download button to save the image to your computer as a PNG file.
3. Click the Apply button to finish giving your image a transparent background.
Then use the Download button to save the image to your computer as a PNG file.

4. Removing the Astronaut from the background - Reload the original image. Select the Touch Up menu item, increase the brush size to about 70 and paint over the Astronaut by clicking and drawing with the mouse. Don't release the mouse button until you've painted over the entire astronaut.
4. Removing the Astronaut from the background - Reload the original image. Select the Touch
Up menu item, increase the brush size to about 70 and paint over the Astronaut by clicking
and drawing with the mouse. Don't release the mouse button until you've painted
over the entire astronaut.

5. Once the application has done its magic, click the Download button to save the background to your computer as a PNG file.
5. Once the application has done its magic, click the Download button to save the
background to your computer as a PNG file.

Once you've prepared all your graphics you could import them into any animation software that supports PNG files. I used Cartoon Animator 4 to create my scene.

Turning each element into a prop inside Cartoon Animator 4 is as simple as dragging the image file onto the stage and choosing 'Prop' from the Import menu that appears. From there I just sized and scaled each item to suit my scene, as well as positioned them on the Z plane for that cool parallax effect.

Here you can see my finished scene in Cartoon Animator 4, with a few more elements that I prepared using Photoshop Express.
Here you can see my finished scene in Cartoon Animator 4, with a few more elements
that I prepared using Photoshop Express.

If you would like to see the final demonstration animation I created scroll to the last image in the embeded product slide show below. You can also purchase all the files I used to create my project, including my CA4 project file.


Adobe Photoshop Express is not perfect by any means. Its background removal tool just fails on some images because there are no settings at all to fine tune what it removes. It either does an amazing job, or it fails to the point of being useless.

(Just quietly both Kritra and Photopea's background removal tools are far superior to this, but they're also a little more intricate to learn. Photoshop Express is great if you just want to do something quick with clear images that won't confuse the application).

If you have found this article useful (or have questions, feedback etc.) I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

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