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How to Make a Background Transparent in Illustrator

The background is an integral part of your Illustrator projects. By default, the program saves your creations with a white background, which might not always fit your vision. You may decide to make it transparent, so how do you do so?

How to Make a Background Transparent in Illustrator

This article will reveal the answer. We’ll explain how to make your Illustrator backgrounds transparent.

Illustrator: How to Make Image Background Transparent

Illustrator is a user-friendly platform. Most features are easily accessible, including the option to make image backgrounds transparent. Here are the steps.

  1. Open the image whose background you want to modify. If it’s an existing file, press “File,” find the desired picture, and hit the “Open” button. If you want to use a new pic, go to your main menu and click “Create new.”
    Illustrator 1
  2. Navigate to the upper part of the screen and hit the “View” button.
    Illustrator 2
  3. Scroll down until you find the option to “Show your transparency grid.” Click it and wait for the background to transform into a gray and white grid.
    Illustrator 3
  4. If necessary, edit your image and add new elements.
    Illustrator 4
  5. Save the picture by pressing the “File” button, followed by “Export, and “Export As.”
    Illustrator 5
  6. Choose the desired format, such as TIFF, SVG, or PNG. Open the picture to verify the background is transparent.
    Illustrator 6

Illustrator: How to Make White Background Transparent

One of the most useful features of Illustrator is Image Trace, serving a wide array of functions. For example, you can use it to convert your raster images in the JPEG, PSD, or PNG format to vector pictures. Alternatively, it works great for converting any drawings, like pencil sketches, on paper into vector forms.

But more importantly, the Trace function allows you to turn white backgrounds into transparent ones. You shouldn’t have a hard time applying the feature:

  1. Go to Illustrator and open an image.
    Illustrator 1
  2. Hit the Ctrl + Shift + D keyboard shortcut if you’re a Windows user. If you run Illustrator on your Mac, use Cmd + Shift + D instead. This shows your transparency grid, enabling you to determine whether or not your picture background is transparent.
    CTRL Shift D
  3. Hit the V button on the keyboard to activate your Selection Tool. You can now select your image using this feature.
  4. Head to the upper menu bar and press the “Window” button.
    Illustrator 8
  5. Explore the menu and choose “Image Trace.”
    Illustrator 9
  6. Change the “Mode” feature from “White and Black” to “Colored.”
    Illustrator 10
  7. Press the nearby triangle to access Advanced settings.
    Illustrator 11
  8. Go to “Options,” followed by “Ignore White.”
    Illustrator 12
  9. Select “Trace,” and you’ll be good to go. The feature will turn the picture into your vector and get rid of your white background.
    Illustrator 13

Illustrator: Make Artboard Background Transparent

Contrary to popular belief, Illustrator always sets up a transparent background at the start of your project. Although it appears white on the Artboard, it actually doesn’t exist. It’s a mystery why it appears white, but there’s a way you can make sure you get a transparent background after saving your files.

Here’s what you should do.

  1. Open Illustrator.
    Illustrator 14
  2. Create a new image or add an existing one.
    Illustrator 15
  3. Go to the “Properties” panel.
    Illustrator 16
  4. Navigate to “Ruler and Grids.”
    Illustrator 17
  5. Click the prompt that allows you to turn the background transparent.
    Illustrator 18

There are a few more ways to ensure your Artboard background is transparent. The first one requires you to use a keyboard shortcut.

  1. Launch Illustrator and add the desired picture.
    Illustrator 19
  2. Use the following key combination if you’re a Windows user: Ctrl + Shift + D. Mac users will need to press Command, Shift, and D.
    CTRL Shift D 1

Finally, you can employ a convenient feature from the “View” section.

  1. Go to Illustrator.
    Illustrator 14
  2. Create a new image or open an existing file.
    Illustrator 15
  3. Go to “View.”
    Illustrator 2
  4. Press “Show Transparent Grid,” and that’s all there is to it. You should now see that your Artboard background is transparent.
    Illustrator 3

How to Make Background Transparent Illustrator iPad

The iPad version of Illustrator is just as intuitive as the PC instance. As a result, you can apply the same method to make your white background transparent.

  1. Open Illustrator.
    How to Make Background Transparent Illustrator iPad 1
  2. Open your picture or create a new one.
    How to Make Background Transparent Illustrator iPad 2
  3. Head to the “View” panel and tap the “Show Transparent Grid” button.
    illustrator 1 1
  4. Highlight the image using your Selection Tool.
    illustrator 2 1
  5. Go to the menu in the lower part of the image and choose that circle icon.
    How to Make Background Transparent Illustrator iPad 5
  6. Navigate to “Color mode” then choose “Color.”
    How to Make Background Transparent Illustrator iPad 6
  7. Scroll down and check “Ignore White.”
    How to Make Background Transparent Illustrator iPad 7
  8. Wait until it’s done and your white background should be gone.
    How to Make Background Transparent Illustrator iPad 8

This process is effective in most cases, but some users report that nothing happens on their iPad after they press “Trace.” Fortunately, the solution is straightforward. You’ll need to save your image as a PNG file.

Take the following steps to do so:

  1. Open the desired picture.
    Trace 1
  2. Navigate to “File” and press “Export.”
  3. Choose the option that lets you export the file for screens.
  4. Hit the “Artboards” button. If there are multiple Artboards in the picture, select the one you wish to output.
    new 3
  5. Tap “Formats” and pick “PNG” as your format. The “Scale” should be 1x.
    new1 1
  6. Select “Add Scale” and add more sizes if necessary.
  7. Navigate to “Background” and choose “Transparent.”
    Trace 7
  8. Choose “Export Artboard,” and the background should be transparent once you open the PNG file.
    Trace 8

How to Save a PDF With a Transparent Background in Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator enables you to use a transparent background in virtually any format, including PDF. But before exporting your file, you’ll first need to make some tweaks to your image. Again, you can apply the “Image Trace” method.

  1. Open Adobe Illustrator and find the image you want to edit or create a new picture.
    Illustrator 1
  2. Check whether the background is transparent. Press Command + Shift + D or Ctrl + Shift + D, depending on your platform. If everything looks good, you can skip the following steps. But if the background is colored for some reason, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves a bit more.
    CTRL Shift D 1
  3. Hit the “V” button to activate your Selection Tool.
  4. Hover over the upper menu and access the “Window” section.
    Illustrator 8
  5. Wait for the drop-down menu to pop up and choose “Image Trace.”
    Illustrator 9
  6. Switch from “Black & White” to “Colored” in the “Mode” tab.
    Illustrator 10
  7. Click the triangle symbol to open Advanced Settings.
    Illustrator 11
  8. Check “Ignore White” and press “Trace” in the lower-right corner of the window. Image Trace should be active at this point, turning your picture to vectors. By extension, this removes any color from your background to make it transparent.
    Illustrator 13 1

You can now export the image to PDF without coloring the background.

  1. Click “Export,” followed by “Export for Screens.”
    Illustrator 21
  2. Press the “Artboards” window in the next dialog box and select the Artboards you wish to save.
    Illustrator 23
  3. Go to the right-hand tab and navigate to the “Format” section.
    Illustrator 22
  4. Choose “PDF” and press “Export Artboards.” You may need to wait a couple of minutes if you’re exporting a complex or large file.
    Illustrator 24 1
  5. Open the PDF in the destination folder to check if the background is transparent.

Alternative Online Tool

There’s no need to run other platforms when turning your backgrounds transparent in Adobe Illustrator. That said, the process can be time-consuming. You can accelerate it with a free online tool called TinyWow.

TinyWow Background Remover

TinyWow is a beginner-friendly platform that allows you to make all sorts of edits to your Illustrator images. Background removal is one of the most helpful features. It only requires a few clicks.

  1. Launch your browser and heat to the TinyWow website.
    Illustrator 25 2
  2. Press the “Image” section in the top-left part of the display.
    Illustrator 25 3
  3. Choose “Image Background Remover.”
    Illustrator 26
  4. Drag and drop the picture to the appropriate field or upload the file from your device. Wait for the website to receive the image.
    Illustrator 27
  5. Click “Remove,” and your picture should no longer have a background. Download the image and enjoy your new Artboard.
    Illustrator 28


What are the benefits of making a background transparent in Adobe Illustrator?

You may want to shift to transparent backgrounds in Illustrator for several reasons.

First, it lets you focus on a particular area of your image. While this sounds counterintuitive, effective use of this technique can put any design into the limelight. The method also guides your viewers and puts the picture in a different perspective.

Transparency also improves readability. It provides assistance whenever you can’t find a blank space to put your text. This way, there’s no need to resize or edit the image itself.

Many people use transparent backgrounds to add depth, too. It helps create a multi-dimensional design that makes any project more appealing. This simple addition also lets you add a unique flair to your pictures. It can be contrasted with stunning colors to achieve a mesmerizing effect.

Your Masterpiece Should Be the Focal Point

Although colored backgrounds are sometimes welcome, they can draw too much attention. That’s not the effect you want to achieve with your Illustrator creations. Making the background transparent solves this problem. It tells your audience what to focus on, ensuring they’re captivated by your artwork.

Do you prefer colored or transparent backgrounds in Adobe Illustrator? What’s your favorite method for making backgrounds transparent? Do you use Illustrator on a PC, smartphone, or tablet? Tell us in the comments section below.


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