How to Remove All White from an Image in Illustrator CC

Learn how to remove all white from an image in Illustrator CC when you run an image trace, and save yourself invaluable time not having to delete all of those white areas yourself.

If you have an especially complicated and busy image to outline, this technique could be a real game-changer for you!

Remove All White from an Image in Illustrator

How to Remove All White from an Image in Illustrator CC

Video Tutorial

If you prefer to learn via video, you can watch me go through this easy technique, one step at a time, with the video tutorial below.


Step-by-Step Tutorial

Insert Image

After you have live traced an image and then expanded and ungrouped the trace, you will have all these different shapes from the white fill that, if you don’t want, you will have to select and delete. If you just want the outline traced, without the white fills, there’s an easy way to do it.

Step 1 – With a new document open, go to ‘file > place’.

Step 2 – Locate the image you want to trace, select it, and click ‘place’.

Step 3 – Position the cursor to a position on the canvas and click to place the image.

Step 4 – Your image will now appear on the artboard. Resize if necessary.

Trace Image

Step 5 – Select the image with the ‘selection tool’ from the lefthand toolbar. Then go to ‘window > image trace’ to bring up the image trace panel.

Step 6 – Select ‘black and white’ from the ‘mode’ options.

Step 7 – Adjust the ‘threshold’ slider depending on how complex the image is. You may need to run this a few times to understand how much or little threshold the image needs, then ‘cmd/ctrl z’ to go back and try again.

Step 8 – As with ‘threshold’, adjust the options in the ‘advanced’ menu, if you have a particularly complex image. If your image is simple and you just want the outline, you can leave these as they are.

Step 9 – Make sure ‘abutting (create cutout paths)’ is selected under ‘method’.

Step 10 – Check ‘ignore white’ under ‘options’ to ensure that white areas are not traced and filled.

Step 11 – Once you’re happy with the settings, click ‘trace’ to run the image trace.

Step 12 – Let the image trace run, which you can monitor from the ‘progress’ menu that automatically appears.

Step 13 – You should now have a black outline trace of your image, with no white fill or areas.

Expand Image

Step 14 – With the image selected with the ‘selection tool’, go to ‘object > expand’.

Step 15 – Check both ‘object’ and ‘fill’ in the ‘expand’ menu, then click ‘ok’.

Step 16 – Your traced image is expanded and complete, without any white fill or areas.


If you just want the black outline of a traced image, this little method can save you so much time. I hope you find this technique helpful, as it has saved me a lot of time and meticulous work over the years!

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