How To Use The Eraser Tool In Photoshop

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.

How To Use The Eraser Tool In Photoshop - Pencil Erasers

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:”

unlocking layer in photoshop

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.

new layer in photoshop

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.

background tool in photoshop

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.

color picker photoshop

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.

dragging layers in photoshop

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.

girl jumping on a green background

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!

Click here if you’d like to learn more photo editing tips.

How do you use the Background Eraser tool? Please share your tips and tricks below!


10 thoughts on “How To Use The Eraser Tool In Photoshop”

  1. Photoshops tools, especially the eraser tools to be precise, are fun to use due to their interesting functions. I must say I have learnt how to use the photoshop eraser tools especially when dealing with background colors. So with the information I have garnered from your lovely article, I can now change my images to any color of my choice, be it red, green, yellow..thanks a lot!

    • Thank you. Isn’t Photoshop fun? It’s such a complex and versatile program, I love learning new tricks and hacks to make my images better. Changing background colors is a lot of fun. Play around with this amazing tool!

  2. Thank you for writing a great informative article about the eraser tool in Photoshop. I appreciate you taking the time and breaking it all down for us. I don’t really know much about using Photoshop, and I’ve always thought it is not easy to learn. In this post, you just showed me how easy it is to edit pictures using the background eraser tool. I will start trying to learn how to use Photoshop.

    Again, thanks for this post. I hope to revisit more articles like this.

    • Thank you for reading my tutorial. I hope it was easy to understand. I try to make the steps easy to implement. Once you do it a few times, it will be second nature!

  3. Hi studioworks,

    I went through your whole site and to be honest it blew me away. It has such a look of professionalism and is very eye catching. Can I ask how long you have been working on it? Every drop down has so much information and with your site being what it is I expected nothing less than an array of visually pleasing content.

    Normally I would be nit picking when giving a review but I honestly can’t find anything to complain about. The language and writing style is easy to read while being full of beautiful images to back up each and every point. I salute you.

    I did web design back a few years ago and photoshop was a big part of that. I know the intricacies involved and you explain easily and intelligently. More power to you.

    I know your site will be a big success. I knew from the outset that it would be.Very well done. I really enjoyed reading and looking at your site. I wish you all the very best with your online venture and the future. With work like this, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Kindest regards and warm wishes,

    Feargal o Friel

    • Wow, thank you so much. I really appreciate your kind words. I try to post a variety of content to make my site interesting for a wide range of viewers. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and comment!

  4. Thanks for writing this lesson on how to make use of eraser tool in Photoshop, you really do well by trying as much as possible to help us newbies how to use Photoshop effectively. The Eraser tool is a destructive tool as said in the article, that’s the reason I m always careful when using it because whenever you use it, your work is permanent.

    Most of the time, I realize I have made a mistake after already saving the file, then I have to start over. I always think of the Eraser tool as a real erase. I’ve learned a lot of new things from this article, things that I didn’t know  about using the Eraser tool in Photoshop 

    • You are very welcome. I try to make my tutorials easy to understand. Yes, you should always create a new layer to preserve your original image. It’s save a lot of time and headache going forward. 

      Thank you for your comment!

  5. Hi Holly, 

    Photoshopping has been a fascination for me and it’s fast becoming an addiction. I always look out for new images to change and edit in photoshop. 

    I also do research to improve my Photoshopping skills and coming across your article on How To Use Background Eraser tool in Photoshop, has been very information and educational.  

    • Oh boy, I agree with you. Photoshop has been a fascination for me as well. I’ve been using it for over 15 years. I’m happy you found my tutorial helpful. Thanks for taking the time to comment. 


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