How to Remove Background of a .jpeg in Illustrator

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? 14 comments

Mark 5 weeks ago

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

Kat 5 weeks ago

This helped me SO much! Thank you tons!

martin 5 weeks ago

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

Jawhar Petersen 6 weeks ago

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

deepsea 6 weeks ago

bloody great help - WORKED for me

Thank you

Dave 7 weeks 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!

Linda 8 weeks ago

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


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clippingpathindia 2 months ago from United Kingdom

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

momo 2 months ago

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

Lara 2 months ago

Thank you - really beautiful!

Laura 3 months ago

Great - thank you!

Jacquelyn 4 months ago

Thanks so much!

... 8 months ago

thank you ! extremely helpful

sume 14 months ago

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

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