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How to Remove the Background from an Image in Silhouette Studio

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Have you ever downloaded some clipart, sent it to cut, and found that instead of a cut line around your image, you only see a square outline? Or maybe you’re trying to use an image as part of a Print & Cut but there’s an annoying white (or any other color) background you can’t get rid of? Luckily, Silhouette Studio has some powerful tools that make it easy to remove the background from an image with just a few clicks of the mouse. Let me show you how!

How to remove the background from an image in Silhouette Studio

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Square Outlines Around an Image

Many different file types can be imported into Silhouette Studio. Most graphic images are downloaded as either JPEGs or PNGs. One advantage to using PNGs (or Portable Network Graphics) is that they often have a transparent background and can be easily layered on top of one another. Let’s look at these flower images as an example:

Overlapping clipart images of a purple flower, pink flower, and blue flower

They look good on the screen and when printed, but what happens when I try to cut them? Why isn’t there a cut line around the flowers?

Cut lines of overlapping clipart images of a purple flower, pink flower, and blue flower

Even though the background is transparent, and therefore not visible on the screen, there IS, in fact, a background that Studio “sees”. The cut lines form an outline of the transparent background. So how do we get rid of the outline and make a cut line around the actual image? By using the Trace tool.

There are three trace styles in Silhouette Studio: Trace, Trace Outer Edge, and Trace and Detach. Trace and Detach essentially cuts an image away from its background.

Step 1: Select the image.

Step 2: Open the Trace Panel.

Step 3: Click on Select Trace Area and draw a box around the image. Adjust the sliders as necessary until the entire image turns yellow.

Blue flower clipart and Silhouette Studio Trace Panel
Traced image of flower clipart

Step 4: Click on Trace and Detach.

Step 5: Move the image away from the background. The background section can be deleted.

Blue flower clipart and detached outline
The faint blue outline is the background that has been detached from the image.

Check the cut lines by clicking on the Send tab (be sure the design is set to Cut).

Voila! No more square outline.

Blue flower clipart with cut outline

Removing a White Background

Some images include a white background. Although this white background is not visible when printed (unless you have a special printer that uses white ink), Silhouette Studio recognizes it just as it recognizes a transparent background. This can cause a registration failure for Print & Cut designs.  And if you are trying to use multiple images in a layered design, the white background of the top image will block out the image underneath. 

Trace and Detach doesn’t always remove the white background completely, so it’s best to use the Trace function, then use the cut lines generated from the trace to crop the image. 

Step 1: Select the image.

Step 2: Open the Trace Panel.

Blue, purple, red, and green flower frame clipart
Flower Frames Set Clipart – PublicDomainPictures.net

Step 3: Click on Select Trace Area and draw a box around the image. Adjust the sliders as necessary until the entire image turns yellow.

Flower frame clipart traced in Silhouette Studio

Step 4: Click on Trace.

Blue, purple, red, and green floral frame clipart with cut lines
Cut lines emphasized for demonstration purposes.

Step 5: Select both the cut lines and the image.

Step 6: From the Object menu, choose Modify>Crop.

Blue, purple, red, and green floral clipart with screenshot of Object menu in Silhouette Studio

All of the background should disappear.

Blue, purple, red, and green floral frame clipart

Silhouette Design Store Images

Some Print & Cut images from the Design Store also have a white background, while others do not. Look at these two designs:

Watering Can with Flowers by Silhouette, Design ID 271646

Watercolor Flower by Jennifer Wambach, Design ID 27187

Silhouette Design Store images of watering can with flowers and watercolor flower

They look fine when printed on white paper, but what happens when they are layered?

Silhouette Design Store images of watering can with flowers and watercolor flower

If we reveal the grid completely in the Page Setup Panel by setting the Reveal percentage to 100, it’s easy to see that the watercolor flower has a white background that we need to remove.

Silhouette Studio Page Setup Panel with 100 percent of grid revealed
Screenshot of watercolor flower overlapping watering can with flowers

Because Print & Cut designs from the Silhouette Design Store come with cut lines, it’s even easier to remove a background when necessary – no need to trace. 

Step 1: Select the design.

Silhouette Design Store watercolor flower

Step 2: Ungroup the design until the cut lines are separate from the image.

Silhouette Design Store watercolor flower
Note the additional bounding box which indicates that there are now multiple (ungrouped) shapes included in the selection.

I’ve moved the two shapes apart so you can see them more clearly, but you will want to keep them aligned.

Silhouette Design Store watercolor flower separated from background

Step 3: Select the cut lines and the image.

Step 4: From the Object menu, choose Modify>Crop. The background should disappear.

Silhouette Design Store watercolor flower
Screenshot of watering can with flowers and watercolor flower accent

Knowing how to remove the background from an image can be very helpful when working with Print & Cut designs. Ready to give it a try? Grab some clipart or a Print & Cut design from your Silhouette library and go for it! If you have any questions, leave a comment or visit me over on Facebook. And be sure to pin the image below to share the Silhouette love!

How to remove the background from an image in Silhouette Studio

Until next time,

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