Do you want to remove unwanted areas from your image? For instance, want to remove complex background like hair, fur, trees? Well, choose the background eraser tool Photoshop.
Don’t get fooled by the name of the tool. It is because Photoshop has nothing to do with an image background since it doesn’t know what an image background is. Erasing a required portion of an image is easy with the background eraser tool.
Let’s start this tutorial on how to use the Photoshop background eraser tool and its benefits.
Process of Erasing Background with Photoshop
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.
- Eraser tool
- Background eraser tool
- 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 erasing toll expert.
Background Eraser Tool Selection
Looking at the tools panel area you will not find the background eraser tool because it is hidden in the regular Eraser Tool of Photoshop. Go to Eraser Tool, click the right button (for windows) or Ctrl-click (for Mac). A fly-out menu will appear and from there choose the tool.
Once you select the Background Eraser Tool, your cursor will be replaced into a circle that has a crosshair in its center.
Brush Size Adjustment
The Background Eraser Tool is a brush indeed, similar to other Brush Tools available in Photoshop. Giving command to the keyboard, you can easily make an adjustment to the brush size. 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 constant pressing Shift + left bracket ( [ ) and Shift + Right Bracket ( ] ) will give you harder edges.
Using harder edges is much beneficial because softer edges will give you several background artifacts.
What is the Working Process of 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 in grey background.
In the layer panel, the image is positioned in the background layer.
Now, let’s say we want to remove the grey background without making any effect on the hair. Photoshop gives a color sample directly below the crosshair in the middle of the circle – Background Eraser Tool works following this way. Around the crosshair, there is a larger circle – it represents the area where Photoshop will remove the pixels. Inside the circle, if there are any pixels that align with the color pixel directly underneath the crosshair, the pixel will be deleted.
So, to remove the grey background, take the cursor into the black hair. And simply move it over the column to make sure that the center of the crosshair is directly positioned on the black hair.
Once you click on 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.
So, in order to remove more grey color, don’t release the right button and drag the crosshair to different parts of the grey color bg. You will notice one surprising fact which is, even if the larger circle passes to the black hair, no effect happens to it at all. 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 on removing the grey color until you don’t move the crosshair from the inside of the grey area.
But one thing you will need to be utmost careful which is, don’t take 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, then repeatedly press Command + Option + Z (for Mac) and Ctrl + Alt + Z (for Windows).
Basic Information on Background Eraser Tool
Once you check the checkerboard pattern; you will find the image there that I have removed. In fact, Photoshop shows the transparency of the layer following 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 background layer. Photoshop follows a different way of treating background layers than normal layers.
But you can’t remove the pixels, it is because the Background layer doesn’t support transparency.
Learn more about transparent background making:
Now, you might be thinking 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 background layer to a normal layer so that I can remove the pixels. And in the Layer panel, the normal layer is named as “0”. It is not something that is crucially essential, but it is a bit of an interesting fact about Photoshop. Learning about how the process is working is always great.
Now, we will start making a tutorial on what we have learned so far and work on a real-world example of a background eraser 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 a bit 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.
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 below. Photoshop will take the color of the petals as samples and start removing the petals’ color.
In this case, to return to the last step, press Ctrl + Z (for windows) or Command + Z (for Mac). Once you come to the last step, start removing the sky color again.
Till now, we learned that background eraser tools 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 starts erasing the same pixels.
Above all the working process is the basic information of a background eraser tool. In fact, this is not the only behavior 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.
You might have seen that after selecting the tool, the Options Bar and screen top show different options for adjusting the behavior of the tool.
The most essential behavior that we can change easily, 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.
By default, Photoshop chooses Continuous icons. This is the reason when you move the crosshair cursor, the tool selects the color that goes under the crosshair. As a result, the tool starts erasing the green color when mistakenly crosshair goes over the green color while I was erasing the blue color in the beginning.
However, you will get the best results from the Continuous sampling option when you will need to remove when the background consists of several colors.
But what to do when the background color doesn’t change much? At this point, the Once sampling option works the best. Click on the Once icon (in the middle) to activate it.
From the name of the option itself, you may understand that the Once option means, 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.
It means, even if you accidentally move the crosshair cursor over the black-colored area by selecting the Grey colored as samples, 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 have selected the blue sky initially as the sample color.
Sometimes, you may face problems positioning the crosshair tool over the color that you want to erase. To avoid problems, you should select the Background Swatch Option placed on the right side.
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.
Why? You will understand the whole purpose from below.
Pick a color as much as a similar textured color that you want to erase. Even don’t worry if the selected color is quite wrong. By changing the Tolerance Value from the Options Bar, you can match the color as much as possible.
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 that 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.
Photoshop’s default setting is Contiguous. When you are moving 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 not be able to delete the pixels of blue sky placed under the branches and leaves.
So, what can we do?
The simple answer is, select Find Edges. This will help you to delete the pixels more precisely than the Contiguous and it will maintain a smooth edge. However, you may not require to use it when working with the leaves. But if you are required to erase the sky along the building edge, where smooth edges play a vital role, Find Edges will give you the best outcome.
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?
This feature helps to find the matched pixels of the sampling color and Photoshop gets the freedom to delete those matched pixels from anywhere of 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.
Now, unfortunately, one problem arises. Let’s zoom-in the image. You will find that still there are some darker grey areas surrounding the petals and the sunflowers. To see the color, let’s make the background entirely black. It means, with the option Discontiguous selected, still the petals and the sunflowers require a little bit of 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.
Background Eraser Tools 3rd prime feature is Tolerance, 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.
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 background 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 color and leaves color is high. So, I will set the tolerance value to 70%. Now, click on any area of the blue sky that will be selected as the sample color. Since I choose the high tolerance value, you will get a better outcome with the Background Eraser Tool for sure.
Protecting Foreground Color
Finally, if you see how much tolerance settings are being applied, you can’t see the background eraser to delete the image background except for the part of your image. It is time to use the Protected Foreground Color.
Since it is turned off, you have to 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.
Let’s look at the below image. The background and subject color is quite alike here. As a result, the Background Eraser can erase a small portion of the subject color unwillingly along with the background 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.
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 be switched to the Eyedropper tool. And then, click on one of the flowers to select the sample color. Now your selected sample color will be protected via Photoshop.
To ensure that your selected sample color is selected as the new Foreground Color, look at the swatch option positioned at the Tools panel bottom portion. You will find that the new Foreground Color gets changed to your selected color.
Since the flower color is not protected, drag the crosshair cursor all over the flowers’ place, the Background Eraser will erase the 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.
So, we have learned all the related information and basics of the Background Eraser tool; we will move to a full tutorial of this tool’s use.
How to Remove an Image Background with Background Eraser Tool – Step by Step Process
The tool works best when you are required to clean an image background.
Let’s follow the step-by-step process.
Step 01: Selection of the Background Eraser Tool
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; simply click on the Eraser tool and hold it until the eraser tool comes out.
Step 02: Settings of the Eraser
Ensure that the Background Layer is Duplicated following the above image. Also, click on the Eye icon to make the Bottom Layer invisible.
Now go to the Options Bar and pick a round, hard brush. Depending on your required size, choose the brush size.
For the image that we are working on, select the settings as below.
Sampling > Contiguous
Limits > Find Edges
Tolerance > 50%
Step 03: Background Erasing
This step is to erase the background. 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 the Background Eraser tool is a must because it also has a few drawbacks.
In this image, the background and subject color are quite similar. As discussed above, to solve the issue, we will need to follow the Protecting Foreground Color option. Using this option, you can comfortably fine-tune the image.
Do you think that the Background Eraser Tool is the only option to Remove a Background? It is not. We will learn more alternative options to erase the image background.
Photoshop Pen tool and Quick Selection Tool will assist you in achieving this task.
This section will discuss the detailed process of Removing Image Background Using the Pen Tool and Quick Selection Tool.
How to Remove Image Background with Photoshop Pen Tool?
With simple objects, Photoshop Pen Tool works best.
Step 01: Opening Pen Tool
The Pen tool is positioned in the toolbar option (at the left). Or press the shortcut key “P.”
Step 02: Path Drawing
Click on any edge of the subject. This way, you will be creating the first anchor point. And then click on another edge to create another anchor point. For a straight line anchor point, all you need to do is click it. And for the curved line, first, click and then drag it to the line arc. Creating lines around the curves and edges will become easy following this way.
Don’t forget to click Alt (for Windows) or Option (for Mac) at the anchor line’s last point.
Once you click on the Option or Alt, the anchor point will reset so that you can create a new straight line again.
In the beginning, you will require some practice to get used to it. You can go faster once you get familiar with it. Until you finish creating the path around the subject, continue following the same process.
Click on the first anchor point; once you reach there, the path will get automatically closed.
Step 03: Convert Path
Go to the Paths window (right of the Layer window), and click on the “Loads Path as Selection” icon.
Step 04: Background Removing in Photoshop
You can follow a few options to remove the background now.
Go to Options Bar and click on Select and then choose Inverse. Finally, press the delete key. Moreover, for Windows go Ctrl + Shift + I and for Mac, Cmd + Shift + I.
You also can transfer the subject to a new layering by copying it. For windows, press Ctrl + J ,and for Mac, Cmd + J.
That’s all, the subject gets isolated, and the background is removed.
How to Remove Background Using Quick Selection Tool?
You can do a lot of things using the Quick Selection Tool. And this tool delivers the best result when you will have a contrasting subject and background.
Step 01: Selecting the Tool
Go to the left toolbar and select the Quick Selection Tool. Pressing the shortcut key “W” will let you select the tool.
Ensure it is selected as Add to Selection in the top Menu. As a result, the object’s different parts selection will be easy, and it will be combined in a single selection.
Step 02: Selection Making
Now start making the selection. You can select either the background or subject; similar Tone Values will automatically get selected by Photoshop.
Step 03: Refining Edges
To use Refining Edges, Click on the button named “Select and Mask” A new window will appear. And Photoshop will show you the outcome as a preview.
The Refine Edge window has a pre-selected background. To remove the imperfections, you can select any of the background colors. It would help if there is no dissimilarity between the background and subject color similar.
Then go to Top Menu and select the Brush Size. We have selected a brush size of 45.
The brush will allow you to remove the imperfections by painting over the selection area edges. The good thing is, when you are painting, Photoshop will adjust the selection automatically. When selecting hair, fur, or leaves, this option is much useful.
Step 04: Background Removing
Repeat the similar process of Step 04 of “How to Remove Background Using Pen Tool.”
What is the Benefit of the Background Eraser Tool Photoshop?
The purpose of using the background eraser tool is to remove the background or add a new one. Photographs or Photoshoppers use this technique to get the entire focus on the subject.
With the removal of an image background and adding a new one, the images lend to a whole new level. Let’s look at the benefit of using this tool.
- Every e-business owner wants to add an authentic and reliable look to their product image. Using a background eraser tool, you can remove the background or any imperfections. As a result, an image receives an extra value. You can also add relevant background by removing the irrelevant one. That will give a professional look to a viewer.
- A photographer’s hand can shake when capturing an image. And every beginner photographer faces this common problem. An image background may look shaky because of this issue. As a result, the image looks dull. To give a stunning look to the dull image, background removal is a great option, and you can achieve it with the tool. The image will become more appealing once the background gets erased by the tool.
- The eraser tool is widely used to erase the background, and it is one of the best techniques. A polished background look is ensured with the tool.
- Background removing with the background eraser tool is an easy process. When you need to remove the background from many images within the shortest period, this method is beneficial. You can also add a professional background in an image with the help of the white background removal technique.
- Often background image color and the subject color become dissimilar. At this point, to give a similar color to both, the tool is much useful. You can comfortably achieve this task following the easy process of this tool.
Quick Summary of the Photoshop Background Eraser Tool Tutorial
So far, we have learned many techniques and processes of using the Background Eraser Tool. Below I am sharing a quick summary of this tutorial.
- The Background Eraser tool is a useful Photoshop tool to give a new look to your image.
- Right-click (for Windows) or Control-click (for Mac) on the tools panel Standard Eraser Tool, a new menu will appear and select Background Eraser Tool.
- The crosshair and the brush cursor middle should stay at the same point. The crosshair points on the erased color. Thus, the crosshair will select it as the sample color. Now keeping the mouse click, drag the crosshair over the image. The matched color will remove if the cursor matches any pixels. And unmatched color with the sample will remain unaffected.
- Background Eraser Tool’s behavior is controlled by the Sampling Options positioned in the Options Bar.
- When you move the cursor, Photoshop selects the sample color underneath the crosshair once the Continuous option is selected.
- One option will help you when you need to select the initial color only. When this option selects, no other color will be erased except for the initial color.
- Background Swatch will remove the matched pixels of the current Background color.
- Option Bar’s Limit feature will let Photoshop determine the pixels to delete.
- Photoshop’s contiguous feature is to delete pixels in places where the pixels are physically touching under the crosshair.
- The discontiguous feature erases any pixels that get matched with sample color when the crosshair moves over a color.
- Find edges performs in a similar way as Contiguous performs but helps to get smooth edges. Also removes imperfections of edges.
- Tolerance limits how different a pixel’s color can be from Photoshop’s sampled color to delete it. If the background and subject color are less dissimilar, choose a lower tolerance value. And when the color difference is more, select a higher tolerance value.
- When you don’t want to delete the current Foreground color, select the Protect Foreground Color option.
- To Undo any mistake in the Tool, press Ctrl + Z (for Windows) or Command + Z (for Mac).
Frequently Asked Question
What is the use of the eraser tool?
If you need to erase any active parts or selection, an eraser tool is a useful option. 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, make sure you are working on the active layer only, and the other layer turns off.
What is an eraser tool?
Answer: The eraser tool works as a brush and removes pixels when you move it 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 on Background Eraser Tool in Photoshop CC
It was a long tutorial. Thanks for your patience in reading this article.
Hopefully, this tutorial gives you a clear idea of the usage of this Eraser Tool and different background eraser processes. The background eraser tool comes with several options that allow a user to remove the background efficiently to get a stunning photo.
Choose an easy image to do the practice. Everything requires practicing to become a master on it, and Background Eraser Tool Photoshop is also no exception.
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