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How to Remove Background of a .jpeg in Illustrator

Updated on June 23, 2015
The sample .jpeg image we'll be working with in Illustrator.
The sample .jpeg image we'll be working with in Illustrator.

Making a transparent background

I was recently confronted with the simple problem of removing a white background from a .jpeg image for some web development work I was doing. While I am familiar with how to quickly do this in Photoshop, I've been working on methods to move my workflow through Adobe Illustrator.

There are many methods for removing backgrounds from images and this method is only one of them that you can apply within Illustrator. I like this method for simple .jpeg images and not photo graphs. If you have a photograph that you want to remove a background from you may want to check out "Remove Background Image in Adobe Illustrator."

A note before we get started

This involves utilizing the automatic tracing tool with abutting, which creates an artwork outline. Therefore, this process works best with simple images with a white background.

1. Open Illustrator and your .jpeg file

  • Open Illustrator
  • Go to "File - Open" and locate your .jpeg file

2. Show Transparency Grid

To make it easier to see if you're actually making your .jpeg transparent we'll do the following:

  • Go to View - "Show Transparency Grid"

3. Prepare to Trace your image

We will need to open up the Trace window to do our work:

  • Go to "Window - Trace"

4. Select your tracing options

To create a trace that will remove the white background set the following options in your Trace window:

  • Preset: Leave Default (This will change as we make changes)
  • View: Tracing Result
  • Mode: Color
  • Palette: Full Tone
  • Advanced: Expand to show and leave all defaults except Method
  • Method: Change to Abutting (Left Icon)
  • Options: Check Snap Curves To Line and Ignore White
  • Note: you can check Preview and to see what changing each option does to your image
  • Hit Trace or if you have Preview checked wait and observe how your selections modify the image

5. Review your image and Save

You should now have an image which has its white background removed. Either Export the file as a PNG or choose the Save for Web option to save the file in PNG format (Note other file formats that support transparency are GIF, BMP, TIFF).

Got other methods or questions?

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    • profile image

      Tiffany 5 weeks ago

      Easiest tutorial - thank you!

    • profile image

      Nicholas 7 weeks ago

      Thank you, but my opinion, i have the easier way.

      1. Select the image

      2. Click "Opacity"

      3. Change the "Normal" into "Darken" or "Multiply"

      4. Tada

      5. You're Welcome

    • profile image

      JEFFREY 2 months ago

      I Can't find the image trace function on my menu?

    • profile image

      The Guy Who Was Doing IT ALL WRONG!! 3 months ago

      DUDE... HOLY BAWLS, you just saved me an un describable amount of time... I've been using the anchor point tool this WHOLE TIME.. I wanna hug you.

    • profile image

      Mark 6 months ago

      Forest! Thanks for the help. You never come visit us in Seldovia!

    • profile image

      Kat 6 months ago

      This helped me SO much! Thank you tons!

    • profile image

      martin 6 months ago

      i am trying this but with a black background and I am struggling, any tips?

    • profile image

      Jawhar Petersen 6 months ago

      Awesome, saved me some time in trying to figure it out! great tutorial!

    • profile image

      deepsea 6 months ago

      bloody great help - WORKED for me

      Thank you

    • profile image

      Dave 6 months ago

      As an infrequent Illustrator user this was a huge help in getting text out of a psd layer and into an svg. While it seems fairly simple and straightforward, I had expended way too much time on this effort before coming across this post.

      Much Thanks!

    • profile image

      Linda 6 months ago

      wonderful tutorial, made my life a hold lot easier....


    • clippingpathindia profile image

      Clipping Path India 7 months ago from United Kingdom

      It is just for specific images.. like yours. Thanks for the tutorial!

    • profile image

      momo 7 months ago

      this was great but when I try copy and paste the image somewhere else it doesn't show up

    • profile image

      Lara 7 months ago

      Thank you - really beautiful!

    • profile image

      Laura 8 months ago

      Great - thank you!

    • profile image

      Jacquelyn 8 months ago

      Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      ... 13 months ago

      thank you ! extremely helpful

    • profile image

      sume 19 months ago

      Your tutorial was the absolute best compared to anyone else online! Great job.

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