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How hard is it to completely remove the background from a photo? For the graphically challenged among us, the answer is “pretty darn hard”. Messing around with programs like Photoshop or GIMP is out of the question if you’re not into that stuff, and trying to make a complex background transparent is as useless as trying to customize your iPhone.

Believe it or not, removing backgrounds is not as hard as it looks. There are several relatively simple ways to remove the background from an image 3 Easy Ways To Remove Backgrounds From Images Without Specialized Software 3 Easy Ways To Remove Backgrounds From Images Without Specialized Software As a tech blogger I should have some basic graphic skills, but the truth is I don't. One of the most common tasks I have to do is removing image backgrounds. If you're selling stuff... Read More , the most renowned of which is Clipping Magic, a Web app that makes removing backgrounds easy Clipping Magic: Remove The Background From Any Photo In Just A Few Clicks Clipping Magic: Remove The Background From Any Photo In Just A Few Clicks Removing the background from a photo is something Photoshop pros can do in their sleep, but if you find the process hard – and Photoshop expensive – you can be forgiven. Thanks to Clipping Magic,... Read More even for children. But can it be even easier?

That’s exactly what Background Burner claims. Let’s find out if it’s true!

Using Background Burner

Just like Clipping Magic, Background Burner is a Web app that makes it easy to quickly remove the background from any image. As usual, you start by uploading your photo to Background Burner. The app will then attempt to remove the background from your image all by itself. You don’t have to do anything yet.

Background Burner

After less than a minute, Background Burner will present its results. It will usually give you 3-4 options to choose from.

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background-burner-2

If the photo you uploaded wasn’t too complex, one of the results will most likely be perfect. If that’s the case, just hit the “Select” button below the perfect result and download it. If none of the results are completely perfect, you can choose the best result of the bunch and do some touch ups to make it perfect.

background-burner-3[4]

If you choose to touch up, the interface you’ll be using is very similar to Clipping Magic’s. Use the green brush to mark parts you want to keep and the red brush to mark parts you want to erase. There are three brush sizes to choose from for each color.

bavkground-burner-4

When your image is ready, you can download it either as a JPG with a white background, or a PNG with a transparent background. The latter will be useful if you’re planning on planting the image on a different background.

background-burner-download

The Pros

So what can Background Burner do for you that Clipping Magic can’t? First and foremost, Background Burner is completely free, and according to its developers, will also stay that way. Clipping Magic, on the other hand, currently costs money if you want to download your work (see below).

clipping-magic-pricing

Background Burner also attempts to do most of the hard work itself. Unlike Clipping Magic, where you always have to show it which part is the subject and which is the background, Background Burner usually does a pretty good job at doing this automatically, leaving you with only some small touchups. This is especially useful with photos that are not very complex, and can save you quite a bit of work if you’re planning on removing the background from several photos.

The Cons

When it comes to images that are a bit more complex, Background Burner’s automatic results are not as good as the completely manual ones of Clipping Magic.

comparison

In this case, no matter how much I tried to touch up Background Burner’s result, I couldn’t get a result as good as the one I got with Clipping Magic (which is not completely perfect either). To be fair, the image I used here was indeed a challenging one.

challenging-image

The lack of a completely manual mode that gives you total control over the result can be problematic with images like this, but as long as you stick with simpler images, you probably won’t miss it.

Background Burner is also missing a bulk clipping mode, which Clipping Magic offers for $8/month. On the other hand, Background Burner’s automatic background removal does make it pretty easy to remove backgrounds in bulk. While it’s not as fast as Clipping Magic, it is free.

Background Burner’s editor (where you make your touchups) is not as advanced as Clipping Magic’s, offering only the very basic options. When using Clipping Magic’s editor, you can take advantage of more advanced tools such as the hair tool, boundary offset, and different background colors. You will, of course, have to pay to download your result, so it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your photo. In most cases, Background Burner’s more basic abilities are still more than enough.

Bottom Line

Background Burner is a quick, simple and free way to remove the background from most images. You don’t need any knowledge in graphics in order to use it, and you’ll still get great results. So if Clipping Magic’s new pricing left you disappointed, hurry up and try out Background Burner.

If you’re craving to use more serious tools and don’t know where to start, we have some wonderful free Photoshop eBooks that can get you started with Photoshop, and even turn you into a pro. Check them out!

  1. Jayna
    March 1, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Every time I try to use Background Burner it says that there is an error and to refresh and try again. EVERY TIME :( It doesn't work.

  2. Missa Spear
    October 12, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Clipping magic is the best background remover, no doubt but it's main negative point is they made it paid app. So I find (http://editphotosforfree.com/photoapps/remove-background-from-image-online/) website which is clippingmagic clone can do the same job free and online.

    • Sanu Roberto
      October 12, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks for the new website which is better than background burner. I have just used it and it works great.

  3. Peter Marsh
    August 30, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    In theory, background burner works ok, but is is so unstable.
    Common issues:
    1) not very accurate. rarely does it ever get the lines correct. it always requires touch up of images.
    2) the cursor point is off a lot.
    I suspect this is intentional in some attempt to make people want to rent the pro version.
    The cursor cat be 20 pixels below there the editing is done, ( you are pointing in the wrong spot thing)
    OR the Cursor can make ghost lines so much you cannot even see the image you are editing.
    Or the lines the cursor are supposed to make do not show up.
    Or the cursor does not even work on an image.

    3) many time it gets locked in "working" thing. Now you have to start over from scratch.

    4) many time while working on an image, the image just disappears.

    5) If you incorrectly choose one of the wrong possible variations of the auto remove function you are stuck with it even if you delete it. and re upload it.

    6)There are more, but i am tired of typing. .

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 31, 2015 at 5:22 am

      That last reason cracked me up :D

  4. Ysabel
    September 22, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Background Burner is great...when it works. But that's not very often. Something about it is not very stable. At various times I've had issues with getting & maintaining a connection to their site; with it not being able to get a very good clean burn (there's always something needing "touch up," more with light colored subjects & anything curved); & more recently, it won't download properly, which may have more to do with Microsoft Photo Gallery. I don't know but I'm tired of hassling with it. I want something more stable, predictable & reliable. Clipping Magic forces you to accept spam even though you pay for it! I'm being forced to hire a service if I want good results.

  5. Cookie
    June 25, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Hi i been using background burner for a month now and I Love it!! But just now they have removed it, says this page not found error! omg please can someone put it back i need this to do my photo shop art work or link to one just like it (free) this is the best thing i ever found :( help

  6. John Smith
    May 4, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Is there a free Windows desktop app for EASY background removal?

    • Yaara L
      May 5, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      I don't know of one, although I'm sure most graphics apps can do this. With some it's probably easier than with others. I don't know of a program that can do it this easily, but then again, I'm graphically challenged, which is exactly why I seek this type of web apps. :)

      What's wrong with using a web app for this, by the way?

    • Jenny
      January 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      i am not wasting my time just using cuttheimage.com where a live designer does it for me instantly for 1.99

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