How to Remove a Background in Photoshop

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Table of Contents

01. Eraser tool

There are multiple ways to do this, let’s start with the background eraser tool.

How to remove background With Eraser Tool

What settings are available for the background eraser ?

After selecting the tool, you will see that it has a small cross in the middle. That is where the tool takes the color sample. This tool uses the sample it takes to look for the pixels it erases. There are three options when it comes to sampling.

02. Sampling Settings

One-time sampling


If you want to remove a background that is connected with complex edges to the subject, such as hair, the best option, in my opinion, is the one-time sampling. This way the eraser will use a single color as a sample, until you let go of the click, erasing around other colors.

03. Continuous sampling

When the tool takes new samples as you move it, meaning if you run over a new color it will erase that new color as well (that’s not good, in case you run over strands of hair it will erase the hair as well) I found this sampling method to be useful only when there are hard edges and a background with changing colors. Background swatch This is the third option but I found the other two being superior so I mostly ignore this one.

04. Tolerance Settings

Tolerance you can control the range of colors the tool is using

Tolerance, you can control the range of colors the tool is using. By increasing it you increase the number of pixels erased. Too low will leave too many pixels behind, making the edges more fuzzy, too high will erase pixels that you may want to keep. There is no single best option here, the amount of tolerance varies from picture to picture, you need to experiment to find what works best. Finding the lowest tolerance possible is the way to go, so start from low and go up.

05. Limits Settings

Sampling discontiguous photoshop

This means if the color you are sampling from is discontinued, or separated by another color it will treat it as a border and won’t erase on the other side. Use this for hard edges.

Erases all the similar colored pixels whether they are not separated.
For hair, this is the option to go for.

Find Edges
This setting is very similar to contiguous, its the best for subjects with hard edges

What’s the disadvantage of using the background eraser tool?
The biggest disadvantage is that it erases pixels, in a destructive manner, meaning once you erased something you can’t bring it back like you could with a mask. The good news is that there is a workaround.

Before you start erasing, duplicate the original image. After you finished erasing hold down Ctrl and click on the erased image to select the remaining pixels. Now click back to the original image, with the selection intact, and create a mask. Now the mask will hide the pixels you erased. If you find the edges to be too fuzzy at this point you can smooth it out using the blur

Overall the background eraser tool is just one of many methods of masking your subject. Knowing how to use it can never hurt, the more tools you have under your belt, the more options you got.

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