How to remove Image Backgrounds to make an e-book cover

If you’re in the process of doing a book on Smashwords and you’ve reached the point of making your Cover page, you might want to read this.

Many self-publishing authors want to control the entire process of making their first e-book for uploading to Smashwords, from the inside out. Often that means you’ll be the type of person opting to make your own cover.

But if you’re following the Smashwords Style Guide, it may have told you that you need to have your cover done by a professional as his video points out below.

Still, you insist of composing your cover pages from images that you may have taken with your camera. Plus, you don’t have US$100 to pay someone to make and design a cover, even though it might make your book sell better.

But you have a problem; a lot of your images have a background and you need to remove that background. How does one do that?

Background removal with Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 – Recolor my Image

There are several ways.

The quickest is to post the image into Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (Lancet, 2013) and remove the background using the following procedure:

  1. Copy the images into an empty Microsoft Office Document
  2. Go to Format in the upper Menu
  3. Select the Adjust Group
  4. Then select Recolor Option
  5. Select Set Transparent Colour to reset the background colour of your document
  6. Use the tooltip to touch the part of your image you want to have the background erased
  7. Copy and paste the document into Microsoft Paint
  8. Save as PNG for future processing

This however, works if you background was one solid colour. If it was a multi-coloured background, then the image will have strange fuzzy edges instead of a clean cut from the background.

recolor option

Once you have a background free image, save it as PNG, as that’s the best imaged format to preserve your newly-cleared backgrounds. JPEG is really for sending compressed images and was never meant to be used when working with images.

In such a case it’s time to pull out the big guns; Background Burner and Photoshop.

Background Burner and Photoshop – In case of Background Emergency Break Glass

Background Burner is an online Web based software program (Prindle, 2014) that automatically removes your backgrounds. Just drag and drop your image into the software and the edge-finding algorithm, represented by a fire-breathin’ Dragon, burns away the background and preserves the edges of the image in the foreground.


It might not get it right on the first pass; zoom in and with a few strokes of the green tipped cutting pen, you’ll be able to remove what the dragon missed. After that, downloading the finished work is free after you’ve registered to get some spam.

Since you might not like spam, you’ll probably love the last resort; using Photoshop. Any version of Photoshop (Deer, 2013, July 19) will do, even the free version of Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Once you load up the image, then follow the simple instructions:

  1. Open the image in Adobe Photoshop CS2
  2. Select the Background Eraser tool
  3. Adjust the brush size to your liking
  4. Set the Sampling to Continuous
  5. Set the Limits to Find Edges.
  6. Adjust the Tolerance for a setting in the 20-30 range.
  7. Hover your brush over an area of the background that’s near your object.
  8. Click and remove
  9. Continue this process until you’ve created a background-free border around your entire object.
  10. Adjust the Tolerance as needed where your image gets lighter/darker around the edges.
  11. Switch over to the regular Eraser tool once you have a solid border around the image


That’s it!!  Again, remember to save it as PNG, as that’s preserve your empty backgrounds. Have fun composing your Smashwords Book cover!

Here’s the link:

Smashwords Video Tutorial Channel

Adobe Photoshop CS2


  1. Deer, L. (2013, July 19). Animation After KingstOOn – Free Photo Editing Software and How to get a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS2 absolutely Free. Retrieved from
  2. Lancet, Y. (2013, June 11). 3 Easy Ways To Remove Backgrounds From Images Without Specialized Software. Retrieved from
  3. Prindle, D. (2014, May 29). Two foolproof ways to remove the background from a photo. Retrieved from




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s