Like many of you reading this, I’m a designer with lots of other stuff on my plate. I start my day by tinkering with a website concept. Then I brainstorm brand strategy and nerd out on my typeface. And that’s only half of it. I use every possibility to automate my routine and work smarter, not harder. And removing backgrounds is a draining part of the design work I have to deal with. So I got excited when I discovered background remover tools. But will any of them manage without requiring me to patch up mistakes? Is there something too hard or impossible for them? Could they really save time for me?

So I played around with some online background removers to see how they work. Those were:

  • Remove.bg
  • Сlipping Magic
  • PhotoScissors and
  • Background Remover by Icons8

First Impression

There’s one job they’re all more or less good at. And that’s cutting an object from images that have:

  • High contrast between the object and its background
  • Objects with clear identifiable borders
  • No tiny details, scattered hair, or leaves that are a tough task both for humans and AI
  • No semi-transparent details like glass or water distort the object’s borders
  • No shiny, glossy, or reflective surfaces make it difficult to identify the object
White Jack Russell terrier with a black head portrait on pink background original photo by Victor Grabarczyk

Original photo by Victor Grabarczyk

This is an example of a simple doggo pic with a solid background. That guy apparently had a professional photographer. And here are the results of the background-removing tools.

Collage with cut background Jack Russell terrier dog and it's ear close up the result by Remove.bg

Remove.bg

Collage with cut background Jack Russell terrier dog and it's ear close up the result by Сlipping Magic

Сlipping Magic

Collage with cut background Jack Russell terrier dog and it's ear close up the result by PhotoScissors

PhotoScissors

 Collage with cut background Jack Russell terrier dog and it's ear close up the result by Icons8 Background Remover

Background Remover by Icons8

The result was almost the same for all four. You can expect great results if a photo meets the above requirements. The main difference is the output image size and quality. Remove.bg and PhotoScissors give you low-resolution images if you don’t pay. And Clipping Magic… well, it’s the screenshot because you can’t download anything unless you pay. While Background Remover provides you with a high-res image for free.

Hair Challenge

Sometimes I have a series of images to take an object from. Sure thing, I’d prefer to use a tool that provides the simplest extraction. If I know what it can do, I can keep an eye out for pictures that will work best with it.

So, say you’re working with a batch of staff photos. And there it is, an employee with an envy-inducing lumberjack beard or a gorgeous afro. Objects of wonder, yes, but a lot of work for a designer! Let’s look at how these removers will handle hair.

Woman with dark curly hair clothing white polo neck in profile on grey background original photo by Juan Manuel Merino

Original photo by Juan Manuel Merino

Collage with cut background, the woman with dark curly hair clothing white polo neck in profile and her hair close up the result by Remove.bg

Remove.bg

Collage with cut background, the woman with dark curly hair clothing white polo neck in profile and her hair close up the result by Сlipping Magic

Сlipping Magic

Collage with cut background, the head of the woman with dark curly hair with cut off the body in profile and her hair close up the result by PhotoScissors

PhotoScissors

Collage with cut background, the woman with dark curly hair clothing white polo neck in profile and her hair close up the result by Icons8 Background Remover

Background Remover by Icons8

Remove.bg, Clipping Magic, and Background Remover returned decent results. PhotoScissors did a good job with the hair, but, for some reason, it cut off the body. Though it has a built-in tool to fix it, I left it as is since I’m comparing the results you can get without using extra tools.

And what if you need to handle lots of such photos? With Background Remover by Icons8, you upload them at once, and – voila – they’re ready. Piece of cake! Moreover, bulk upload is available under a free plan. In fact, this service is totally free. The only thing you need is to register. The other participants of the race provide bulk upload to paid users only.

Beautiful, But Tricky: Epic Landscapes

Then I tested the removers with an epic mountain range I needed to make a collage. It looks like a simple task, with a clear-cut background. At least to the human eye. But it turned out to be difficult for AI due to the uneven snowy sections and tricky forest. Check out how all the tools executed this task.

Epic mountain landscape with daytime moon on blue-green sky original photo by Ryan Schroeder

Original photo by Ryan Schroeder

Collage with cut background, epic mountain landscape with daytime moon on blue-green sky and mountain peak close up the result by Remove.bg

Remove.bg

Collage with cut background, epic mountain landscape with daytime moon on blue-green sky and mountain peak close up the result by by Clipping Magic

Clipping Magic

Collage with cut background, epic mountain landscape with daytime moon on blue-green sky and mountain peak close up the result by Photoscissors

Photoscissors

Collage with cut background, epic mountain landscape with daytime moon on blue-green sky and mountain peak close up the result by Icons8 Background Remover

Background Remover by Icons8

Remove.bg did great with the border. Clipping Magic did a good job, but the border looks a little bit too harsh to me. PhotoScissors cut everything away and left only the central part. And Background Remover worked well, made a smooth border, and even kept the hardly visible daytime moon in place.

Things Are Getting Tough

The next treat I fed to my ‘guinea pigs’ was a tricky balloon dog. Dark edges and shallow contrast between the object and the background. How do you like it now, background-removing tools?

Red neon balloon doggo toy in half a turn in the dark original photo by Rutger Lanser

Original photo by Rutger Lanser

Collage with cut background, red neon balloon doggo toy in half a turn in the dark and its ear close up the result by Remove.bg

Remove.bg

Collage with cut background, red neon balloon doggo toy in half a turn in the dark and its ear close up the result by Clipping Magic

Clipping Magic

Collage with cut background, red neon balloon doggo toy in half a turn in the dark and its ear close up the result by Photoscissors

Photoscissors

Collage with cut background, red neon balloon doggo toy in half a turn in the dark and its ear close up the result by Icons8 Background Remover

Background Remover by Icons8

Surprisingly enough, all removers digested it quite well. Remove.bg and Clipping Magic were accurate but cut out some small glossy parts. Photoscissors messed up with legs and made a big hole in a dog’s neck. Background Remover by Icons8 did a good job except for some tiny details, and it was the only tool that made no holes in the poor dog’s body.

The Last Fight

Finally, I took an image that would be steep even for the classiest tool: a dude in greyish clothes sitting in a camping chair. On a background of wet, dirt-colored sand and cold-lit water. Low contrast, plenty of details topped by the guy’s eyewear with lens invisible against the water. Would any of the removers cope with this task? Only one way to find out…

The guy in greyish clothes sitting in a camping chair by the lake original photo by Hunter Matthews

Original photo by Hunter Matthews

Collage with cut background, the guy in greyish clothes sitting in a camping chair by the lake and his chair close up the result by Remove.bg

Remove.bg

Collage with cut background, the guy in greyish clothes sitting in a camping chair by the lake and his chair close up the result by Clipping Magic

Clipping Magic

Collage with cut background, the guy in greyish clothes sitting in a camping chair by the lake and his chair close up the result by Photoscissors

Photoscissors

Collage with cut background, the guy in greyish clothes sitting in a camping chair by the lake and his chair close up the result by Icons8 Background Remover

Background Remover by Icons8

Well, nobody’s perfect. That was really a hard nut to crack. All the background removers made mistakes that will require some skills and time to fix. Сall it a draw.

And the Oscar goes to…

No one and most of them.

Each app has its own nuances. Check out the summary of my tests with online background removers below.

Table with test results and personal rating: Remove.bg is 7/10, Clipping Magic is 8/10, Photoscissors is 6/10, and Background Remover by Icons8 is 9/10

Table with test results and personal rating

Remove.bg

A simple and fast tool with good results, but be ready to pay if you need large images.

Personal rating: 7/10

Pros:

  • Good for various tasks
  • Result correction tools

Cons:

  • Paid high-res results
  • Bulk processing only on premium plans

Clipping Magic

Good results and a set of tools that you can use to correct the resulting image. Though it takes time to understand how to use them properly. And you cannot download even a low-res result for free. You’ll have to pay to get rid of watermarks.

Personal rating: 8/10

Pros:

  • Good for many tasks
  • Result correction and other tools

Cons:

  • No free options
  • Bulk processing only on premium plans
  • Some tools are cumbersome for a fresh starter

Photoscissors

Mediocre results without built-in tools to correct the outcome. And those tools all are less handy to me than the Clipping Magic ones. The app allows free downloading of low-res (600×400 px) images only, and you’ll have to pay for larger sizes.

Personal rating: 6/10

Pros:

  • Rich functionality
  • Result correction and other tools

Cons:

  • Mediocre results
  • Paid high-res results
  • Bulk processing only on premium plans

Background Remover by Icons8

It is my favorite when I need a one-time neat and rapid cut. Yes, it was not perfect with some pictures, but I’m sure that this new kid on the block (launched in December 2020) is constantly learning and will become only better over time. This tool charmed me with its uncluttered interface. Moreover, this remover offers bulk upload functionality and is absolutely free. It requires just a registration for all of these perks.

Personal rating: 9/10

Pros:

  • Free high-res results
  • Free bulk processing
  • Clutter-free interface

Cons:

  • No result correction tools

As for me, my choice is Background Remover by Icons8. I’ve been using it for several months and know what kind of photos I can easily delegate to it. It perfectly copes with most of the background-removing tasks, and it’s free.

Try tools for creators by the Icons8 team:

Icons8 Icons8, a library of about 130K+ icons and clip art images
Offline app icons8 Offline app and plugins to drag’n’drop icons and clip art to any design tools
Moose Moose, the big collection of high-quality stock photos
illustrations Ouch! , a library of vector illustrations and collages
Background Remover Background Remover, AI-based online tool for removing background from any photo
Mega Creator Mega Creator, online tool for creating visual content from pre-made elements
Fugue Fugue, royalty free music for videos of any kind
Lunacy Lunacy, free graphic design software with built-in design resources
Smart Upscaler Smart Upscaler, image upscaler to enlarge and enhance images using AI
Generated Photos Generated Photos, unique, worry-free model photos generated by AI
Also, get the lists of free vector software and free photo editing software.
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