, the background-removing photo tool that people are going gaga for


Originally published at:


It’s all about the background:


Thanks for sharing! In similar spirit, here’s an earlier post by Andrea James linking to an online image enhancement tool.


It does a fantastic job of dealing with hair and fabric – this is a terrific time saver! It’s a wonderful tool, except that for now its output is limited to 500x500 pixels, so until that’s increased, it’s a demo of brilliant technology that’s not very practically usable.


Has anyone done an interview with this AI?




I think this might fit the definition of Weak AI. It’s machine learning applied to a very specific task.




But can I remove the people and keep the background?



That’s pretty hilarious. And one imagines that someday it might technically be possible, to some degree. On paper, light field photography could do some really weird shit from what I gather, looking around corners and such.


I’m pretty excited about the potential for AI in compositing, retouching and colorizing. To a large degree Photoshop still has a long way to go in terms of automating all of those. Photoshop now has a one click “Select Subject” feature that gives a pretty good, but imperfect start to creating a knock out. Here is how it compares to the tool in the OP.

While the Photoshop Select Subject superficially looks pretty close and correctly omitted the pipe from the cut out, it actually misses the tricky nuances that are hard to do by hand, such as getting a tight, accurate mask on the hair with color cast removal. Photoshop also missed much of the area between models legs, though that is much easier to fix than the hair - hair detail, transparency and soft focused edges, and their related color casts, are all problem issues in creating cut outs for compositing on different backgrounds that I look forward to AI making easier to deal with.



Eh, it depends on your definition of AI. I have no expertise in the subject, but I do know enough to know that machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence; I mean, Arthur Samuel is considered to be an AI pioneer due to his work in machine learning. I figure if the IEEE recognized Samuels’ work to be “artificial intelligence,” then a bunch of people who have read and watched too much sci-fi can recognize that machine learning is a branch of AI, too.

I guess it’s only AI if it comes in the form of an android that uses Photoshop to mask everything out and has a hint of a sense of humor.


Pretty cool so long as it doesn’t go Skynet on us and try to remove the background of everything.


Skynet will just inverse the function and delete us instead, leaving the infrastructure behind us perfectly intact, like the neutron bomb - well, like the propaganda pitch about the neutron bomb.


I frequently have to cut things out of backgrounds, and it’s tedious AF, so this does look interesting. Unfortunately I’m almost never cutting out people, so this doesn’t help me.

P’shop has been vaguely prodding at this for years, but the problem is, if the automatic tool only gets it 95% right, “cleaning up” the result is at least as hard as doing it manually in the first place, and often harder (since you have to make your manual edges look like the automated edges). Plus, you end up focusing on the pixels, instead of the overall composition, which is what matters.


It’s always a let down for me when I finally realize the nasty “refined” edges of Select and Mask just aren’t working and I have to start over with the completely manual pen tool… :-/


I feel like being able to work the magic wand tool to remove a background is a good skill to master.

Is it just me or does there seem to be a big focus in a lot of apps on pre-made filters instead of teaching people to adjust contrasy, saturation etc?

I did a lot of “filter art” back in the 90s on computers with no internet but access to photoshop in my school’s computer lab. I remember my teacher saying they were gaudy and bad… now they’d look at home on an instagram travel blog.

(One thing I did that really broke their brain was colorizing Ansel Adams photographs… I wish I’d saved those PSDs)


For a few years there, I was mostly doing CD/album covers for rock & hip-hop artists, so 50% of my day was spent cutting people out of backgrounds and retouching them. Fuzzy beards and fluffy, curly hair were the bane of my existence and the built in Photoshop tools didn’t help at all. This tool seems to do a good job at softly feathered hair and blurry bits, and if it could output at print resolutions, it would’ve been invaluable to me (four years ago).