Removing Paper Texture in Photoshop

Do you ever find yourself struggling to remove the white paper-textured background from around your images? I used to, until I learned this incredibly simple method using the “Channels” function in Photoshop. Here’s what you need to do, step by step.

1. Open up your image in Photoshop. Today I’ll be using this bicyclist illustration. Click the “Channels” icon (circled in red below.) You should see four rows: RGB, red, green, and blue. (Unless your image is CMYK, in which case you’ll have a channel for cyan, magenta, yellow and black instead.)

Screen shot 2015-12-17 at 12.44.44 PM

2. Depending on the dominant colors in your image, one channel will likely be darker than the others. I like to start with that one, but really any of them would probably work. In my case, the darkest channel is the the “Blue” channel. When I click on it, I see a grayscale version of my image. I’m going to copy this channel by dragging it down to the “copy” icon in the channels box. (See red arrow.)

Screen shot 2015-12-17 at 12.44.47 PMb

3. Now there should be a fifth row in the channels box called “Blue copy.” You can re-name it if you like. While this channel is active, go to Image -> Adjustments -> Levels. Use the sliders to adjust the levels so that everything you want to be deleted (the background) is white, and the image is black. Anything that appears gray will be semi-transparent.

Screen shot 2015-12-17 at 12.46.41 PM

4. Once you’ve adjusted the levels on your channel, use the brush tool to clean it up, making sure the interior of the image is completely black if you don’t want the background showing through. (I didn’t want my cyclist’s mustache to be transparent!) When you’re done, click on the “RGB” composite channel so that your image appears as normal.

Screen shot 2015-12-17 at 12.47.35 PM

5. Exit the “Channels” view by clicking back on the “Layers” icon. Now it’s time to make the mask. To do this, go to Select ->Load Selection.Screen shot 2015-12-17 at 12.47.50 PM

6. You will see a pop-up box something like this. Choose your “Blue Copy” channel, and click the checkbox for “invert.” (If you forget to do this, you can always just go to “Select -> Inverse”)

Screen shot 2015-12-17 at 12.47.54 PM

7. Now your background should be selected. To make it transparent, make a mask by clicking on the “Add a Mask” icon in your Layers box.

Screen shot 2015-12-17 at 12.48.00 PM

8. That’s all there is to it! It’s super easy. From here you can add any background you want, or just leave it transparent. Here I’ve added a blue background so that you can see how my mask turned out:

Screen shot 2015-12-17 at 12.48.16 PM

Happy Holidays
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  1. by Lottie on June 3, 2018  5:39 am Reply

    Thank you for this incredible tutorial, it's been so helpful!

    • by Jess on June 6, 2018  6:35 am Reply

      I'm so glad that you found it useful!

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