Using The Background Eraser Tool

This tutorial will help refresh your memory as to how one can best extract/merge objects together within the shortest period of time using one of the most basic Photoshop tool many tend to overlook- the Background Eraser!

The main function of the Background Eraser tool is to turn an image’s color pixels to transparent so you can easily remove unnecessary objects from the image. With precise setting, you can maintain the edges of the foreground object while erasing the background.

When this Background Eraser’s pointer drag through the area you want to erase, pixels within the circle and similar color value as the pixel under the hot spot(shown as cross symbol) will be erased. If the circle overlaps your foreground object, and it doesn’t contain any pixels similar to the hot spot pixel, the foreground object will remain.

This is a faster way to extract objects out as compare with the traditional Channel Mask. But it is also very difficult to modify the color pixel once you have erased the background. It is therefore crucial to determine the right setting before you start erasing unwanted color pixels. Or you can choose to duplicate another layer for back up purposes in case you need to retouch the foreground pixel in later stage.

Let’s have a look at the Background Eraser tool options as stated below:

Brush Preset Picker Set the presets of the brush, such as size, diameter, hardness, and spacing. Choosing the right setting at the beginning is crucial as it can influence the entire result.

Limits Select Contiguous to erase areas that contain the “hot spot” color and are connected to one another. Discontiguous erases any pixels within the circle that are similar to the hot spot color. Use Find Edges to erase the background along the edges of the foreground.

Tolerance Defines how similar in color to the hot spot. A low tolerance limits erasure to areas that are very similar to the hot spot color. A high tolerance erases a broader range of colors. Always test the tolerance amount before you attempt to remove all background color and pixel. If you know how to precisely set the parameters of the Background Eraser, it can be a very powerful tool.

Step 1


To begin with, open all the images of your favorite scenery or landscape and move it to a 300 Resolution file size with Width: 1680 pixels and Height: 1050 pixels (depending on your own screen resolution). Next, move these individual images into its respective folders (as shown above) to ease handling the images in later stage.

Step 2

Main Scene Image ID: 3950438 © David Acosta 123RF.com.

Scene 1 Image ID: 3695345 © creepers888 123RF.com.

Scene 2 Image ID: 813392 © Mike Norton 123RF.com.

Scene 3 Image ID: 4912404 © Jianfei Su 123RF.com.

Scene 4 Image ID: 4912420 © Jianfei Su 123RF.com.

Scene 5 Image ID: 4912409 © Jianfei Su 123RF.com.

Scene 6 Image ID: 4550281 © Jianfei Su 123RF.com.


Step 3


Step 4


When you are done, click the Eye Icon off in the “Back Up” layer and only show “Background Erase” layer. For this image, my Background Eraser setting would be Brush: 80px, Limits: Find Edges, Tolerance: 15%. When the Background Eraser’s pointer drags through the area you want to erase, pixels within the circle will be erased. The setting basically depends on the difficulty of the foreground and its edges. Every scenery image will need a different Background Eraser setting.

Step 5


Step 6


Face Sculptures 1 Image ID: 3091086 © Ivonne Wierink 123RF.com.

Face Sculptures 2 Image ID: 3125327 © Ivonne Wierink 123RF.com.

Clouds & Front Ground Image ID: 5304403 © Arvydas Kniukšta 123RF.com.

Bird Image ID: 3229240 © Maryna Maschewsky 123RF.com.

Building Image ID: 2584797 © Dario Bajurin 123RF.com.


Step 8


For the face sculptures, use a Spatter Brush to touch up the edges of the object. If you understand the Layer Mask technique by now, you should know how to change the opacity amount to create a realistic effect of merging the face sculptures’ pattern with the Main Scene’s mountain texture.

Step 9


Do note that we can’t specifically use the same technique to adjust all the images. For example, Scene 5’s color is very bright and contain a high saturation of green color as compared to Scene 4. I’ll need to solve it in two separate steps.

First and foremost, I’ll need to go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or press Ctrl + U. The first level is to edit the Master Saturation (Ctrl + ~) amount to -40, Yellows Saturation (Ctrl + 2) to -20, Greens Saturation (Ctrl + 3) to -40 and Blues Saturation (Ctrl + 5) to -15.

Next, go to Image > Adjustments > Selective Color to give the red rocks more yellow. Choose Red and set its Magenta level to -55 and Yellow to +50.

Scene 5 should look more similar to the surrounding scenery by now.

There are many color-corrective options available other than the two I’ve mentioned above. Just let your observation judge and select an appropriate method to modify accordingly.

Step 10


Step 11


Step 12

Dinasour 1 Image ID: 266608 © Scott Sanders 123RF.com.

Dinasour 2 Image ID: 327571 © Elena Ray 123RF.com.

Dinasour 3 Image ID: 366556 © Ritu Jethani 123RF.com.

Dinasour 4 Image ID: 610451 © Andreas Meyer 123RF.com.

Dinasour 5 Image ID: 844967 © Andreas Meyer 123RF.com.

Dinasour 6 Image ID: 991328 © Michal Adamczyk 123RF.com.

Dinasour 7 Image ID: 3617551 © pista23 123RF.com.

Dinasour 8 Image ID: 5310880 © Ralf KRaft 123RF.com.

Dinasour 9 Image ID: 5400274 © Ralf KRaft 123RF.com.

Dinosaur Land Image ID: 2983674 © Mariusz Jurgielewicz 123RF.com.


This is it. Hope you can make use of this Background Eraser tool while working on similar jobs next time.

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