Unlocking the Secrets of Background Eraser Tool Photoshop

The Background Eraser tool in Adobe Photoshop allows users to remove unwanted pixels from an image. Although the tool is intuitive and easy to use as a background remover, many users often need help with how to use it and other features to get the best results.

This blog post will unlock the secrets of the Background Eraser Tool in Photoshop. We’ll look at the tool’s different features, how to adjust its settings, and some tips and tricks for getting the most out of it.

By the end of this blog post, you will have a better understanding of this Eraser Tool and will be able to create stunningly beautiful images with just a few mouse clicks than an Ai background remover.

Do you want to remove unwanted areas from your image? For instance, want to remove backgrounds of soft-edged, or complex images like hair, fur, and trees? Well, choose this tool.

The eraser tool is one of the most used Photoshop tools. When you are about to erase or delete a section, this tool can be handy. You can find these tools on the left side toolbar. It has 3 different options.

  1. Eraser tool
  2. Background eraser tool
  3. Magic eraser tool

Moreover, the tool size control panel will be visible after selecting any of those 3 options. It will allow you to change the size of the brush, brush pattern, and more. Let’s learn how to become a master photoshop eraser tool expert.

Background eraser tool

Background Eraser Tool

Background Eraser Tool is a powerful editing feature of Adobe Photoshop. It allows users to remove the background from an image, and make transparent background leaving the subject of the image in full view.

The tool works by sampling and selecting the background area of the image, and then removing the pixels that are similar to the selected color. This feature is particularly useful for soft edge images like hair, fur, and glass where the magic wand or pen tool doesn’t work well.

Background Eraser Tool Selection


The Background Eraser Tool offers a wide range of possibilities for image editing, allowing users to quickly and easily manipulate images to get the desired result. Looking at the tools panel area, you will not find the tool because it is hidden in the regular Eraser Tool of Photoshop.

Go to Eraser Tool, click the correct button (for windows) or Ctrl-click (for Mac). A fly-out menu will appear, and from there, choose the tool. Once you select the Tool, your cursor will be replaced with a circle with a crosshair in its center.

Brush Size Adjustment

Background Eraser Tool Circle

The Background Eraser Tool is a brush similar to other Brush Tools available in Photoshop. You can easily adjust the brush size by giving a command to the keyboard.

If you want to make the brush size smaller, continuously pressing the [ (left bracket key) or the ] (right bracket key) will allow you to get a larger brush size. Press the shift key to control the hardness of the edges.

You will get a softer edge by constantly pressing Shift + left bracket ( [ ), and Shift + Right Bracket ( ] ) will give you harder edges. Using harder edges is much more beneficial because softer edges will give you several background artifacts.

Working Process of the Background Eraser Tool

Before we go into practical work, we will learn the basics of the Background Eraser Tool. This section will teach you about the working process of this Tool. Below I took a model image on grey background.

Grey Background Image

Remove the Grey Background Without Affecting the hair

In the layer panel, the image is positioned in the first layer. Now, let’s say we want to remove the grey background without affecting the hair. Photoshop gives a color sample directly below the crosshair in the middle of the circle – Background Eraser Tool works this way.

image position background layer

So, to remove the grey background, take the cursor into the black hair. And move it over the column to ensure that the crosshair’s center is directly positioned on the black hair.

remove grey background

Once you click the right button, grey colors under the crosshair get selected, and the crosshair erases all the matched grey pixels within the range of the larger circle.

grey background removing

So, to remove more grey color, don’t press the right button and drag the crosshair to different parts of the grey color bg. You will notice one surprising fact: even if the larger circle passes to the black hair, no effect happens to it.

This means the crosshair is removing the grey color pixels only. This way, removing the grey color in the corners and edges becomes much more comfortable.

The crosshair will keep removing the grey color until you don’t move the crosshair from the inside of the grey area.

removing the grey color

But one thing you will need to be careful of is not taking the crosshair over the black area. The crosshair will take the pixels of the black and start erasing.

However, solutions are also there for this mistake. To undo the mistake, Ctrl + Z (for Windows) or Command + Z (for Mac) will allow you to solve the problem. If you made multiple mistakes, repeatedly press Command + Option + Z (for Mac) and Ctrl + Alt + Z (for Windows).

Work Overview

Once you check the checkerboard pattern, you will find the image I have removed there. Photoshop shows the layer’s transparency in this way, but if you use Photoshop frequently, you might be thinking about what is happening!

A few moments ago, we found my image in the layer. Photoshop follows a different way of treating layers than normal layers.

Basic Background Eraser Tool

But you can’t remove the pixels, and it is because the layer doesn’t support transparency. Now, you might think of one query, “then how did you delete the pixels?” Did you follow any additional strategy to do that?

The answer is NO. The logic is, Photoshop knows what I am going to do. That is why Photoshop changed the backdrop layer to a normal layer so that I could remove the pixels. And in the Layer panel, the normal layer is named “0”.

It is not crucially essential, but it is an exciting fact about Photoshop. Learning about how the process works is always great.

Remove the Background keeping the Subject Untouched

Now, we will start making a tutorial on what we have learned and work on a real-world example of this tool. I will use an image of a sunflower with a blue sky as a background of the image.

Using a background eraser tool will be tricky in this image since I want to keep the sunflower untouched. It means I have to keep the crosshair away from the sunflower and carefully work on the sky.

Remove the Background

For instance, if I can’t keep the crosshair away from the petal and mistakenly move it over the petals, the image will look like the one below. Photoshop will take the petals’ colors as samples and remove the petals’ colors.

Remove Background

To return to the last step, press Ctrl + Z (for windows) or Command + Z (for Mac). Once you come to the last step, remove the sky color again. Till now, we learned that the crosshair takes the color as a sample that comes directly under it.

And it removes the same color that comes within the larger circle boundary. Moreover, when another color comes under the crosshair, it takes that color as a new sample and erases the same pixels.

How to Change the Behaviors of the Tool?

Above all, the working process is the basic information of a background eraser tool. This is one of many behaviors of this tool. So, how to change the behaviors of this tool?

We will learn it, too, and to do this, we will need to start working in the Options Bar. After selecting the tool, the Options Bar and screen top show different options for adjusting the tool’s behavior.

Sampling Options of Background Eraser Tool


The essential behavior we can change easily is the selection process of the sample color of the crosshair. In the Options Bar, you will find 3 different icons of sampling options there. The icons are

  • Continuous (positioned at left)
  • Once (in the middle)
  • Background Swatch (at the right side)

From the above 3 sampling options, you can mostly change the Continuous and Once icons.

Adjust Continuous Icon

By default, Photoshop chooses Continuous icons. This is the reason why you move the crosshair cursor. The tool selects the color that goes under the crosshair.

Adjust Once Icon

But what to do when the color doesn’t change much? At this point, the sampling option works best. Click on the Once icon (in the middle) to activate it.

Sampling Option Background Eraser Tool

From the option’s name itself, you may understand that the Once option means that Photoshop will select the sample color only once at a time, and it will never change when another color comes underneath the crosshair cursor instead of the selected sample color.

Grey Background Eraser

It means even if you accidentally move the crosshair cursor over the black-colored area by selecting the Grey colored as the sample, Photoshop will not erase the black color. The Eraser Tool will not affect the black color at all.

The below image shows the same thing. With the sampling option Once, Photoshop ignores the sunflower even when I move the crosshair cursor over the petals. It happens because you initially selected the blue sky as the sample color.

How to use eraser tool in Photoshop

Sometimes, you may face problems positioning the crosshair tool over the color you want to erase. You should select the Background Swatch Option placed on the right side to avoid problems.

Background Swatch sampling option

When you select the Background Swatch sampling option, don’t forget to click on the Background Color Swatch option. This option will allow you to pick a color, and while picking the color, you will have to be selective as much as possible.

Pick a color as much as a similar textured color that you want to erase. Even don’t worry if the selected color is entirely wrong. By changing the Tolerance Value from the Options Bar, you can match the color as much as possible.

Color Swatch option

Limits in Background Eraser Tool

Without “Limits,” the Background Eraser Tool tutorial will remain incomplete. Firstly, learn the responsibility of the Limits option.

Once you inform Photoshop about the color you want to erase, the Limits tell you about the position of the matched color pixels so that you can erase them comfortably. Limits come with 3 options.

  • Contiguous
  • Find Edges
  • Discontiguous


Limits option Background Eraser Tool

Photoshop’s default setting is Contiguous. When you move the crosshair cursor over an area, the crosshair is physically touching the pixels underneath it. And Photoshop deletes those pixels only.

So, while working with crosshair, you will be unable to delete the pixels of blue sky placed under the branches and leaves.

delete the pixels of blue sky

Find Edges

The Find Edges will help you delete the pixels more precisely than the Contiguous and maintain a smooth edge. However, you may not require to use it when working with the leaves.

But if you want to erase the sky along the building edge, where smooth edges play a vital role, Find Edges will give you the best outcome.

select Find Edges


In an image, you will always have some isolated areas. And you can’t use either Contiguous or Find Edges on those areas. Well, select Discontiguous for this option. So, what is the responsibility of the Discontiguous feature?

Delete background

This feature helps to find the matched pixels of the sampling color, and Photoshop can delete those matched pixels from anywhere in the image.

Even if the crosshair doesn’t touch the matched pixel, Photoshop keeps on deleting those matched pixels. So, with the Discontiguous features selected, you can delete any portion of the sky that comes through the petals and the sunflowers.

Erase Background

Now, unfortunately, one problem arises. Let’s zoom in on the image. You will still find some darker grey areas surrounding the petals and the sunflowers. To see the color, let’s make the background entirely black.

With the option Discontiguous selected, the petals and the sunflowers still require a little push to get the best result from this tool. At this point, the option of Tolerance comes. Let’s look at this option in the upcoming section.

make the background black

Tolerance in Background Eraser Tool

The tolerance option is the 3rd prime feature of this tool, which will allow you to make a difference between the pixel color and sampled color so that Photoshop can erase the matched pixel color.

So, where is the Tolerance feature located? You will find it in the Options Bar on the right side of the Limits option.

Tolerance in Background Eraser Tools

50% is the default value of Tolerance. And this value is a good starting level. But it is advisable to set the Tolerance level to the lower side of the subject and the backdrop color is too similar.

While going for a higher Tolerance value, the difference between the subject and background color options is too high. In this image, the difference between the sky’s and leaves’ colors is high.

So, I will set the tolerance value to 70%. Now, click on any area of the blue sky to select it as the sample color. Since I choose the high tolerance value, you will surely get a better outcome with the tool.

tolerance value to 70pct

Protected Foreground Color

Finally, if you see how many tolerance settings are being applied, you can’t see the background eraser to delete the background except for the part of your image. It is time to use the Protected Foreground Color.

Protected Foreground Color

Since it turns off, you must turn it on by clicking on the tick mark box. When you turn on the Protected Foreground Color, this feature will pick an image from the image and set it as a new Foreground color. And thus, the color will get protected, and the crosshair cursor will never erase it.

Protected Foreground Color image

Let’s look at the below image. The background and subject color are quite alike here. As a result, the background remover can erase a small portion of the subject color unwillingly along with the BG color.

To solve this issue, let’s undo the previous step. So, press Ctrl + Z (for Windows) or Command + Z (for Mac). And clicking inside the checkbox, turn the Foreground Color option ON.

Foreground Color option ON

Now, press and don’t release the Alt (for Windows) or Option (for Mac) key to select the sample color.

For the time being, you will switch to the Eyedropper tool. And then, click on one of the flowers to select the sample color. Now your selected sample color will protect via Photoshop.

select sample color using Eyedropper tool

To ensure that your sample color is selected as the new Foreground Color, look at the swatch option in the Tools panel bottom portion. You will find that the new Foreground Color change to your selected color.

Foreground Color gets changed

Since the flower color is not protected, drag the crosshair cursor all over the flowers’ place, the Background Eraser will erase background only, and you will get a better output this time. The flower color will remain unchanged, and Photoshop will erase the sky color.

It is recommended to Turn off the Foreground Color option once you finish working with the tool. Otherwise, you will be surprised by an unwanted result when you use the Background Eraser Tool next time.

erase the background

So, we have learned all the related information and basics; we will now move to a full tutorial of this tool’s use.

How to Remove Image Background with Background Eraser Tool

Removing backgrounds from images can be a time-consuming task, but with the right tools and techniques, it doesn’t have to be. In the following tutorials, we will discuss how to remove image background with Background Eraser Tool.

The tool works best when you need to erase a photo background. Let’s follow the step-by-step process.

Step 01: Tool Selection

Background Eraser Tool Selection

Go to the Photoshop toolbar option and choose the Background Eraser tool. Get the tool revealed from the Eraser tool since it remains hidden behind the eraser tool; click on the Eraser tool and hold it until the eraser tool comes out.

Step 02: Settings of the Eraser

Duplicate BG Layer

Ensure that the Background Layer is Duplicated following the above image. Also, click on the Eye icon to make the Bottom Layer invisible.

Limits the Find Edges

Now go to the Options Bar and pick a round, hard brush. Depending on your required size, choose the brush size. For the image we are working on, select the settings below.

  • Sampling > Contiguous
  • Limits > Find Edges
  • Tolerance > 50%

Step 03: Remove Background

Remove the Background of an Image

This step is to remove background of an image. The subject edges will be automatically detected. Go for a smaller brush while working with the challenging corners.

Step 04: Fine-Tuning

To get a great result, fine-tuning is a must because it also has a few drawbacks.

In this image, the background and subject color are quite similar. As discussed above, we will need to follow the Protecting Foreground Color option to solve the issue. Using this option, you can comfortably fine-tune the image.

The Benefit of the Background Eraser Tool Photoshop

The background eraser tool’s purpose is to remove the background from images or add a new one. Photographs or Photoshoppers use this technique to get the entire focus on the subject.

  • By removing the background of an image and adding a new one, the images lend to a new level. Let’s look at the benefit of using this tool.
  • A photographer’s hand can shake when capturing an image. And every beginner photographer faces this common problem. A photo background may look shaky because of this issue.
  • As a result, the online image looks dull. Background removal is a great option to give a stunning look to a dull image, and you can achieve it with the tool. The image will become more appealing once the tool erases the background.
  • The eraser tool is widely used to erase the background and is one of the best techniques. A polished background look is ensured with the tool.
  • This tool is beneficial when you need to remove background from many images within the shortest period.
  • You can also add a professional background to an image with the help of the white background removing technique.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many users have questions about the background removal tool, such as how to use it or what type of images work best with it.

Understanding the answers to these Frequently Asked Questions allows you to confidently utilize the background eraser to get creative and remarkable results.

What is the use of the eraser tool?

An eraser tool is helpful if you need to erase any active parts or selections. This can be effective when working with multi-layered images because the lower layers show when the upper layer is removed.

Why is my Photoshop eraser tool not accessible?

Ensure none of your active selections are made. Also, ensure you are working on the active layer only and the other layer turns off.

What is an eraser tool?

The eraser tool works as a brush and removes pixels when you move them into a different part of an image. The pixels will erase with transparency.

I am unable to find the background eraser tool. Where is it?

Click on the Eraser Tool, and don’t release the mouse button for a while. A new menu will appear, and you will find the Background Eraser tool on the new menu.

Final Thought

It was a long tutorial. Thanks for your patience in reading this article. Hope, you will now get a clear idea of the usage of this Eraser Tool and different background eraser processes.

Choose an easy image for the practice. Everything requires practicing to become a master of it, and Background Eraser Tool Photoshop is also no exception.

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