Design Like a Pro: Canva’s Background Tool

While Canva has always been one of the ideal alternatives to applications like adobe illustrator for designers, it has only recently been given the tools that make specific actions possible, like creating entire images from text prompts or removing backgrounds from photos using Artificial intelligence.

The background removal tool has quickly become our most used editing tool in almost any application. While other applications have this feature, few can remove backgrounds as effectively as Canva can.

To use the background removal tool, select the photo or image from which you want to remove the background after it has been placed on the canvas. In the top corner, select Edit Photo, then choose BG Remover from tools and give it a view seconds to remove the background from the image.

There are going to be many situations where the ability to remove your backgrounds becomes invaluable, such as when you want to paste yourself into the design of a Youtube thumbnail. There are other use cases and other ways to improve the background remover when it does not work quite right.

How Does Background Removal Work?

Background removal is often called a smart tool that works automatically and generally without the user having to do anything other than activate the Background Remover.

In Canva, the BG Remover (Short for BackGround Remover) analyzes an image to locate the main subject.

For example, if using a photo of a person, then Canva will map out the person as the main subject. Then the rest of the image is classified as the background, and the tool takes effect, removing anything from the image that does not consider the main subject.

Canvas Background Removal Tool is one of the more effective versions of this tool because it uses algorithms to determine the element within the photo. Such algorithms can include color, contrast, and depth of field to highlight and crop out unwanted elements quickly.

Do I Need Canva Pro To Use Background Remover?

The Background Removal tool requires a canvas pro subscription, as it uses the same ai tool set as other ai tools like magic edit and magic eraser, which also need a subscription to Canva Pro.

Is It Worth Upgrading To Canva Pro For BG Removal?

While we can only offer you our opinion on whether you should ever upgrade to a pro subscription for any software, we will say that the free tools you get with Canva are excellent for design.

However, the ability to remove elements and backgrounds at the click of a button is one of the most revolutionary tools in modern design. Again, out of all the tools we use in Canva, it is arguably the one we use the most.

How To Upgrade To Canva Pro?

As you would expect, upgrading to the pro version of any software or service is straightforward because why would they make it complicated?

On the home screen of the Canva site (Once you have signed up for a free account), you will often find a promotion to a free trial of Canva Pro, which typically lasts a full 30 days.

Canva Trial

We recommend accessing the free trial to practice with the pro-exclusive tools like background removal and accessing the hundreds of additional elements and features only accessible through a premium account.

Once the free trial ends, you could be swapped onto a complete monthly or yearly subscription service. Make sure to cancel before the trial expires if you know it’s not right for you.

How To Use The Background Remover On A Photo?

The primary use case for the background remover in Canva is when we want to remove the background elements from photos or full images.

The tool works equally well regardless of whether we use photos from the Canva database or upload images.

Let’s create an example where we can use the BG Remover tool in Canva. First, create a new canvas. The resolution and aspect ratio can be whatever you want, but for our example, we will use 500×500.

Add A Photo To Your Canvas And Make Sure It’s Selected

Go to the elements tool, and we will type in person in the text box. Then choose an image where it is easy to see the background relative to the person and left-click to add it to the canvas.

Note that this is just for the example, and you don’t have to be as picky when choosing your images, as the BG Remover does a great job in most cases.

Edit Photo Tools

Left-click on the image that has been added to the canvas to make sure it is selected. An option in the top corner labeled Edit Photo will appear. Select this option to open access to various editing tools. In the top section, the very first option available is the BG Remover. Left-click and wait a few seconds for it to work its magic.

The background should now be removed from the photo or image; this leaves only the person in our example.

Image After BG Remover

Does BG Remover Still Work If The Image Becomes The Background?

In Canva, we can take any image or photo and then convert it to become the background of the canvas itself.

This will, in turn, scale and crop the selected image to the size of the canvas. But will this affect our ability to use the BG Remover tool if we use the image as a background?

The answer is no. Even if an image is made in the background of the canvas, it can still be edited the same as any other image or photo.

All applying images as background does is move them to the bottom layer (Canva still uses a layer-based system) and scales it up to match the canvas size.

Will Elements Appear In Front Of The Image Even If They Are Behind In The Layer Stack?

In other words, if we had an element such as text and placed it behind an image, then the text would no longer be visible.

However, if the BG remover was used, then a layer of transparency would be added, meaning the text behind the image becomes visible.

So yes, elements behind an image can become visible if a Background of the image is removed. However, it still would appear behind the parts of the image that are still visible.

Does The Background Remover Tool Only Work With Photos?

Considering the Background Remover tool is located in a section that is labeled Edit Photo, you would assume that only actual photos can have their backgrounds removed.

When we add new elements to our canvas, we can decide if we want to add graphics, photos, videos, etc.

Any images we use from the photos section can use the BG Remover tool. Any images that are added to the canvas from the graphics section typically have an edit image toolset that does not allow for background removal.

However, there are certain backdrops that do have the BG Remover available, and any images that you upload to Canva will also be treated like photos, meaning you can use BG Remover on them as well.

Does Background Remover Work WIth Text To Image?

Another AI tool in Canva is the ability to convert a text prompt into a full image. When creating your design, this is found towards the bottom of the tools column and is labeled Text To Image.

Here you can type in whatever you want, and then the software will try to generate a full image based on your text prompt. It does not always do a perfect job, but it is a technology that will continue to improve over the next few years.

As for the BG Remover, Canva classes images created by the text-to-image feature in the same way that it does photos and uploaded images, which means you can use the BG Remover on any images that you create using text-to-image.

Do I Need To Enable Transparency When Saving My Image?

The whole idea behind using the BG Remover is to replace all of the background elements in an image with a single transparent layer. So transparency is already in effect when the tool is used.

When the time comes to export our image, we have the option to enable transparency in the download settings. But is this required when using the BG Remover, or is that an effect simply applied beforehand, and Canva downloads what appears on the screen?

In short, enabling or disabling the transparency option does not affect how the BG Remover works with the image.

Will The BG Remover Still Work With Jpeg Images?

Unlike using png images, which can have a layer of transparency applied to them. Jpegs are typically smaller low-quality picture formats that do not possess an alpha channel.

So will a tool like BG remover, which creates an alpha area in the image, be usable for Jpeg images? Yes, as the effects of the tool are applied within Canva rather than the export process. What you see on the screen is what you get when you download.

Remember that when we download our png file, the transparency checkbox does not change the effect of the BG remover either.

How To Edit What Gets Removed From My Image?

The Background Removal tool is not always perfect, and sometimes it can delete aspects of an image that we don’t want it to remove. There will also be times when not enough of the image is removed.

In both of these scenarios, we need to be able to edit what gets removed from our image using this tool. Fortunately, every time we use the tool, we are granted access to two secondary tools, allowing us to delete or restore our image using a brush.

Whether or not you actually need to use the secondary tools depends on the result of the primary BG remover, and the effectiveness of that is dependent on the image itself and how easy it is to determine the main subject using the image’s contrast, color, depth of field, etc.

Above is an example of an AI-generated image before and after the background remover has been used. You can see that the tool did an excellent job removing the sky from the image. But what if we wanted to remove the second planet (The one that looks like Saturn) from the image as well?

If you return to the BG Remover tool, you will see a small icon in the menu. If you click on the icon, it opens up the secondary menu where you can erase or restore different areas of the image. In other words, you can take manual control if the automated tool does not do a good enough job.

Secondary Tools

We will select the erase option and then increase the brush size to the level that we want. A smaller brush size is ideal for erasing/restoring finer details, but since the part we want to erase is isolated, we can use a bigger brush size for speed.

All we need to do then is click and drag over the world, and it will be added to the deleted areas of the image. To confirm the change, select the button labeled Edit Photo and it will take you out of the tool.

After Using The Erase Tool

Now what if we wanted to restore that planet or any other areas of the image that were initially deleted? If we return to that second menu we can use the restore tool instead, which does the opposite to the erase tool.

We will find it difficult to restore parts of the drawing when we cannot see where they are. Thankfully we have an option that allows us to show the original image. By ticking this box, we can see everything. However, we can also see the areas that have been erased as they will be overlayed by a checker pattern, which indicates transparency.

This is useful because you can still distinguish what has been deleted and what remains. When using the brush tool to restore your image, it is recommended to use a small brush size and the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in on your image.

After Using Restore

By combining the automated background remover tool, along with the erase and restore brushes, you have the power to more easily remove the areas of the image that you want to make designing your products that much easier.

Using Background Removal On Video

Not only do we have the ability to remove backgrounds from still images, but we can even remove the background from full video clips. Yes, Canva is that powerful.

Remember that while it still does an excellent job you are more likely to need the erase and restore tools depending on the footage being used.

The process of using the tool is almost identical. Go to the edit menu for the video content and then select the BG Remover tool to use, and there you go!


My name is Joe and I am the lead writer and content creator for this site. Since it first starting to make waves in 2022 I have believed that a lot of what we will be able to do in the future will be assisted by artificial intelligence, and that the more you know about how to best use ai, the better a position you will be in regardless of your field and industry.

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