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).

Questions & Answers

    Got other methods or questions?

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      • profile image

        Erica 11 days ago

        I'm still having some trouble because my logo has white in it so the trace is detecting the white and when the trace is complete there is a line going straight down the middle of where the white is in the logo. Any suggestions on how to adjust the trace parapmeters so it doesn't detect the white in the logo?

      • profile image

        Erin Riley 4 weeks ago

        You are a badass! Thank you so much!!!

      • profile image

        ricben 5 weeks ago

        I have to chime in my thanks as well. I've been searching options and trying what others have suggested with some success but NOTHING came close to how well this worked.

        I've spent hours and you've just saved me countless hours going forward. Thank you SO MUCH!

      • profile image

        MOBEEN 2 months ago

        THANKS ALOT .! Its helped me in my business

      • profile image

        The Chosen One 3 months ago

        OMGGG this helps a lott!!! Thaaaanks.~~

      • profile image

        Elsa 4 months ago

        THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • profile image

        waro 6 months ago

        thaaaaaanks a lot

      • profile image

        Ducky 7 months ago

        Thank you very much

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        Ashley 8 months ago

        awesome thank you so much!!

      • profile image

        Bri 9 months ago

        Doesn't work. It messes up my image itself and doesn't take a clear cut on anything.

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        Dave 10 months ago

        Thanks Bro, I was starting to get realy p-o'd and about to punch my computer screen before I came across this!

      • profile image

        Jim 10 months ago

        Thank you!

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        JASKJosh 11 months ago

        Perfect thanks!

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        Awful Grace 11 months ago

        Excellent!! It works. Thank you!!

      • profile image

        Tiffany 13 months ago

        Easiest tutorial - thank you!

      • profile image

        Nicholas 13 months 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 14 months ago

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

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        The Guy Who Was Doing IT ALL WRONG!! 15 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.

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        Mark 18 months ago

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

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        Kat 18 months ago

        This helped me SO much! Thank you tons!

      • profile image

        martin 18 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Jawhar Petersen 18 months ago

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

      • profile image

        deepsea 18 months ago

        bloody great help - WORKED for me

        Thank you

      • profile image

        Dave 18 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!

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        Linda 18 months ago

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


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        Clipping Path India 19 months ago from United Kingdom

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

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        momo 19 months ago

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

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        Lara 19 months ago

        Thank you - really beautiful!

      • profile image

        Laura 20 months ago

        Great - thank you!

      • profile image

        Jacquelyn 20 months ago

        Thanks so much!

      • profile image

        ... 2 years ago

        thank you ! extremely helpful

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        sume 2 years ago

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