How to Make a Background Transparent in Affinity Photo

Creating a transparent background in Affinity Photo is great for making your images look more professional and polished and providing you with more creative control over your projects. These images also tend to be more versatile and easier to use, both online and in print media.

In this article, we will take you step by step through the process of turning and image’s background completely transparent in Affinity Photo. As you read, you’ll learn what tools to use for maximum precision, the most efficient steps to take, and how to properly save your file so the transparent background appears in all future imports.

1. Import Photograph

Unsurprisingly, the first step in making an image’s background transparent in Affinity Photo is to properly import it.

To do this, open Affinity Photo and then select the “File” menu and the “Open” option. Once here, all you need to do is select the image you intend to edit and double click it to import it into Affinity Photo.

Ideally, you’ll want to select photos with limited subjects since you’ll be essentially outlining and cutting around them in future steps to create the transparent background. If the photo is too busy, or worse, doesn’t seem to have a clear subject, then this process might be a bit challenging.

2. Choose the Right Persona Tool for Your File

The next step to creating a transparent background is to pick the right Persona tool for your specific image file.

Affinity Photo is equipped with a Vector/Pixel Personas combo feature, which allows users to mix vector and raster graphics within the same document. Most images you upload will either be a raster or vector graphic (rarely are they a combination of the two) so you’ll want to choose the persona that matches your graphic type.

If you aren’t sure which type your image is, you can usually tell by simply increasing its size. If the image becomes blurred and pixelated, then it is a raster file. If the image stays clear and proportional, then it is a vector image.

Your Affinity Photo Personas are listed at the top in a Persona toolbar. The Pixel Persona is a series of pixelated boxes and should be used for raster graphics. Next it is the Vector Persona image, which appears as three connected dots, and should be used for vector graphics.

3. Select the Selection Brush Tool and Proper Edge Settings

Now that your Affinity Photo Persona matches your image type, you can select the right tools and settings for the task.

The easiest way to turn a background transparent in Affinity Photo is with the selection brush tool. You’ll find this tool in your toolbar on the left towards the top of the list. You can either select the tool here, or you can press “W” on your keyboard.

After you’ve selected the selection brush tool, go up to the top menu and make sure you have “snap to edges” and “soft edges” selected. Lastly, before you move on to the next step, make sure your layer is unlocked. To do this, simply right click on the layer and make sure the “Lock” option is deselected.

4. Set Your Ideal Brush Size

You could skip this step and just start outlining your image subjects using the selection brush tool, but this task will go a lot smoother if you choose the ideal brush size first and know how to alter sizes as you go.

To increase and decrease the brush size of your selection brush tool, press the left and right bracket keys on your keyboard. The left bracket key will decrease size and the right bracket key will increase size.

This will make it easier to get into smaller sections around your subject or can make the whole task go by quicker if a larger size will work.

5. Start Outlining Your Image Subject(s)

Now, you can finally start outlining the subjects of your image, which is the most crucial step of creating a transparent background excluding your subjects (unless you want the entire image to be transparent, in which case, you can go ahead and outline everything with the selection brush tool and just press delete).

Assuming you want to create a transparent background behind your image’s subjects, use the selection brush tool to gradually outline your them. You should see dotted line appear on the edge of your subject where you are drawing, and then another dotted line on the other side of your brush tool.

Don’t worry about making the subject outline perfect right now; we’ll get to that in the next step. Just focus on outlining it entirely. Once you’ve done that, drag the external edge all the way to the border of your background so it is encapsulated entirely (you’re essentially creating a selection or bubbly between your subjects and the image edge).

6. Touch up and Refine Subject Borders

After you’ve made a rough outline of your subject(s), it’s time to fine-tune it and make it as precise as possible before we finally delete the current background and make it transparent. If you delete it now, you might delete pieces of your subject(s) with it.

To touch up the subject borders, hold the Alt key and click on the border in your preferred spot to push it back. You’ll need to hold the Alt key the entire time for this to work.

Use this method to slowly go through and touch up your subject borders wherever necessary. If you make a mistake, you can undo it by selecting the Ctrl and Z keys.

When you’re confident that your subject outline is fairly decent, the last step here is to refine it. To do this, open the “Refine” menu. You should see your subject highlighted in red.

This menu will provide a small selection of settings that will help you double-check the precision of your subject borders and make additional touch ups. You can also alter border width, smoothness, and other settings if necessary. Select apply when you’re done making alterations.

7. Press Delete to Remove the Background

You’re finally at the last step of this, hopefully, not-so-tedious process. All that’s left to do is press one simple key.

Pressing the delete button on your keyboard at this point in the process will delete anything encapsulated in your selection brush tool borders, which, if everything was done properly, should be your background. The result will be a transparent space surrounding your image subjects.

Before you pat yourself on the back for a job well done, there’s one mor crucial step you need to take. If you don’t save your image under the right file format, like .PNG, you won’t be able to save your transparent background since certain formats, like JPG, don’t support this feature.

To save your image as a .PNG, open the “File” menu, click the “Export” option, and then select the .PNG file format. Lastly, click “Export” and the choose your desired folder and press “Save.”

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, a transparent background in Affinity Photo. This process might take you several minutes the first few times, but after a few practice sessions, it will become a simple, rudimentary step you can complete fairly quickly.