Adobe Photoshop CS6 – Background Eraser Tool

Remove a background with Photoshop Background Eraser Tool


Sometimes you take a photo that is great – minus the background.  The background just ruins your picture.  Photoshop’s Background Eraser Tool is awesome. Here is an image that I would like to do something with, but the background has to go.  Here are the steps I used to fix my awesome cowgirl’s photograph, while keeping her hair realistic:

  1. Cmd or Ctrl J to create a new layer.
  2. Go into the drop down for the Eraser Tool (E), and choose Background Eraser Tool.
  3. Up in the Options Bar, go into the brush presets and bring to brush hardness level to about 95% to soften it just a little.
  4. Choose the second option (out of three) to Once for the Sampling method.  The first one is for Continuous, the third is Background Swatch. The Sampling controls how often Photoshop looks at the color and decides what to erase.  Once makes the erasing color one time and will erase pixels that match it.
  5. The Limits menu default is always set to Contiguous, but we want to choose Discontiguous, which works the best to erase similar color through hair.
  6. Turn on Protect Foreground Color and then Option-click or Alt-click a strand of hair.
  7. Now start to erase the background by moving the mouse’s crosshairs to touch only the pixels you want to erase.  Use a really big brush for soft areas, where the background peeks through strands of hair, and a small brush for hard edges around clothes and shoes.  Of course, use the bracket keys to increase or decrease your brushes size.  Keep Sampling the foreground colors to ensure Photoshop knows what areas of the background you want to erase.
  8. Adjust the Tolerance levels in the Options Bar if you aren’t getting the proper results.  Lower it if it erasing too much.
  9. Release the mouse often.  Cmd or Ctrl Z will undo a spot.
  10. Once you get a clean outline around the subject, just use the Normal Eraser Tool to get rid of the rest of the image, or use a Selection Tool around the subject, Inverse it, and delete what is left of the image.
  11. Have fun adding your subject to another image.

I have always wanted to say, “this isn’t my first rodeo”, however, I have never been to a rodeo, and neither has my little cowgirl, but we can always pretend.

Credit for the background image goes to which I found on Flickr.