PFB: Eraser Tool, not as simple as you may think.

Hello and thank you for joining me on another tutorial in my series on Tools. I know I said in the last one that it was going to be one of my last one’s, but how often is that true? In this case not at all, I realized that even though the remaining tools are quite basic they actually have a few cool tricks up their sleeves and I though it would be wrong of me not to touch on that.


Today: The Eraser Tool, not as simple as you might think.

Feature ImageSmlAn eraser does exactly what you would think that it does, it corrects mistakes or gets rid of unwanted parts of a picture. In Photoshop however there are a couple other types of eraser tools; other than just the basic eraser tool there is also the background eraser and the magic eraser. (not quite like the Mr.Clean Magic Eraser)

ToolMenuAs with most other tools in Photoshop this one has other options and a hotkey, the letter E. As you can see on the left the other two types of erasers are found by holding you cursor over the eraser button, each one can be accessed by using the E key but it will only open the one you last selected.

The Eraser: The options for this are pretty much what you would find with your regular brush settings. You can set the size and shape of the eraser as well as the opacity and flow. All of these options are covered in PFB: Brushes. As with any tool the eraser works based on layers, so it will only erase on the layer you have selected, this is always important to remember. In the example below I used a background layer of one color and used a transparent layer with the stamp on top of it. I erased part of it to demonstrate, I have also shown what happens when you have the wrong layer selected.


The Background Eraser: This tool has a similar set of options to the Color Replacement Tool also talked about the PFB: Brushes tutorial. The background eraser works by using color selection to choose which colors to erase from the layer.

The menu bar looks like so:BGEraser      As you can see you have some of the similar options like; continuous color sampling, singular color sampling, and background color swatch sampling.  You also have the ability to set the tolerance and the limits to either; contiguous, discontiguous, or find edges. All of these options help the tool erase just the background and leave the foreground alone. In the example below I wanted to separate the house in the foreground from the sky. Using each of the different color picking options I was able to get a fairly good cutout of the house. I put the red background behind as it helps to have a strong contrasting color to show what areas still need to be cleaned up. Also a note: I used the contiguous setting for this.


The Magic Eraser: This tool acts much like the magic wand tool explained in PFB: Custom Brushes and Selecting. The magic eraser selects a specific color and will eraser only that color throughout the entire image or a specific layer. You have the option to set whether or not you would like the effect to go across all layers or not. You can also select whether or not you would like the area to be contiguous or not; this means effecting only colors that are directly touching the one you select or all of that color within an image. In the example below I have the original photo on the left then using the magic eraser I erased a color of yellow and red. Where the bright teal color is showing through is where the eraser took effect.

MagicIn all honesty I don’t really like the Magic Wand or the Magic Eraser tools at all. I find they can be really quite patchy when working on photos. You don’t really have that much control over what is selected or erased and though you can always fix it up or fine tune it there are better tools. The only time I would really say they are helpful would be in a situation where there is a large solid color you would want to select or erase.

Thank you again for joining me in learning, it has been my pleasure to share what I know.

Also if you like the rooster brush it is part of a great set from Mel’s Brushes you can find it here.


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