There are three eraser tools in Photoshop. The Background Eraser tool is really handy for changing the color of a background, eliminating strands of hair from a subject, or isolating an object in a photo. This tool sometimes gets lost in the shuffle so in this tutorial I want to demonstrate how to use the Eraser tool in Photoshop.
This tool is an amazing way to change the background of an image due to its automatic edge detection and selection feathering. There’s a lot more to the Background Eraser tool than the name implies. It’s actually more of a color eraser tool because using it allows you to change the color of a background, which is what we’ll be doing in this tutorial.
You can also insert a completely new background into an image or save it as a transparency.
How To Use The Eraser Tool In Photoshop
Begin by opening an image in Photoshop. Double click on the locked layer and name it. I’m naming mine “Girl jumping:”
Now create a new layer in the layer’s palette by clicking the little icon to the left of the trashcan icon. The layer will automatically be on top of the background layer.
Working with the eraser tools is destructive editing so it’s always a good idea to create a new layer to protect your original image. Drag you new layer beneath your background layer.
The quick command for the Background Eraser tool is “E” on your keyboard. Make sure you’re using the Background Eraser tool and not one of the other eraser tools. It’s the middle of the three tools.
In the horizontal toolbar, choose the “Once” setting. It’s the middle icon next to the brush drop down. Set the “Limits” to “Discontinguous,” and the “Tolerance” to around 50. Check the “Protect Foreground Color” box. As always, play around with your settings if you need to.
Adjust the “Pen Press” and “Style Wheel” in the brush settings if you’re using a stylus and tablet. You can access these settings in the drop down menu.
Working on the background layer, start cutting around your subject. You’ll see that the Background Eraser tool performs like a brush because it is one.
You’ll want to use a fairly hard brush when cutting around your subject. Use the bracket keys on your keyboard to adjust your brush size. You’ll be thrilled with how seamless it is to cut around an object or person thanks to the automatic edge detection of the Background Eraser tool. When you’re finished cutting around your subject, zoom in and use the Eraser tool to fine tune the edges.
At this point, if you don’t want to add a background color, you can save your image as a transparency. Just make sure to save it as a PNG.
Now create a new document by going to “File” and “New.”In your color picker, select the color you want your background to be and fill your new document with this color.
Choose “Select” and “All.”
Activate your first layer and go to “Edit” and “Paste.” Your layer will turn to your chosen color. Drag the colored layer underneath your first layer.
Your background will now be filled with the color you selected in the previous step. Flatten your image and smooth the background until it’s uniform. I use the Clone Stamp tool (S) to do this.
You did it. Now you know how to change the background color of an image using the Background Eraser tool.
Have fun using all the Eraser tools in Photoshop!
How do you use the Background Eraser tool? Please share your tips and tricks below!