InstantMask: remove backgrounds from images quickly and easily

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InstantMask is a free program that provides a quick and easy way to remove backgrounds and crop out foreground figures or elements from any type of image.

The user is required to use a drawing tool to roughly outline the “foreground” (desired) image element as well as the area directly adjacent to it, and InstantMask will do the rest.

If you’ve ever wanted to crop out a human figure or a face (or anything else) from the background for use on projects (and assuming that you’re not a Photoshop wizard), then this software is for you.

It presents a quick and easy way to separate visual elements from the background in any image, by simply outlining the foreground figure and the space surrounding it with the mouse.Here are more notes on this program:

  • How to use: use the green crayon (which actually leaves yellow marks) to make a rough outline within the foreground figure, and the red crayon to outline the area around the figure. Click preview to instantly see the masking results, then go back, zoom in or out, and refine your outlines if need be. Save the resulting image to disk and you’re done.

Wish list (or how this program can be even better)

Keeping in mind that there is a paid (pro) version of this software that covers some of the points below this wish list will nonetheless inform the reader on some of the limits of this software.

  • Undo and erase: strangely, there is no “undo” to save you when you make an incorrect mark, nor is there an eraser. In this situation you have to either (a) cover the yellow marks with red ones, or vice versa, if appropriate, or (b) re-load the image and try again.
  • Save with transparency: another strage omission is the inability to save to PNG or GIF and specify a background transparency. This means that you will indeed have to use another bitmap editing program in order to mask the white background, delete it, and save as transparent.

The verdict: this software works very well and will appeal to the average user that doesn’t necessarily know what a magic wand tool is in Photoshop or similar bitmap editing software, and thinks about objects that you put on your face when they hear the word “mask”. It could be better though, esp. with respect to the wish list items above.

Devil on the bridgeCheck out the screenshots in this post to see the kind of quick results that you can get. I used InstantMask in conjunction with bitmap editing freeware RealWorld Paint (which I quite like) to transport the image of my friend Diablo (see his latest posting on Freewaregenius) and insert an image of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background (see image to the right). I wonder if they have WIFI in that location.

Version Tested: 1.1

Compatibility: WinAll.

[Thanks go to reader Ramesh for letting me know about this one]

Go to the program homepage to download the latest version (approx 5.16 megs).