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Photoshop Elements 2 Background Eraser

Photoshop Elements 2 Background Eraser

background eraser


Used for removing portions of an image
Found at #7 in the Toolbar diagram at left


Choose the background eraser by clicking on the eraser in the toolbar and holding the mouse button down. Drag to the background eraser’s icon, and release.
toobar pop-up for background eraser

The eraser tools act like paintbrushes in reverse. Instead of laying down color, they pick it up. It’s like watching a movie running backwards.

The background eraser erases the color on which you first click, while leaving other colors untouched. This allows you to more easily work around edges that you don’t want to erase. However, results can be somewhat unpredictable, so be prepared to experiment.

The background eraser is used to erase to transparency on the active layer. If you apply this eraser to your background layer, it will be automatically changed to a regular layer. You cannot have transparency on a background layer.

Once all options are set in the options palette [see below], choose a brush from the pop-up palette and drag in the image to erase to transparency on the selected layer. The background eraser cursor has a crosshair in its center showing the hotspot which is used to choose the colors affected, according to your settings in the options palette.

A shortcut for changing brush sizes while using any of the painting tools is to press the left bracket [ to decrease brush size, and the right bracket ] to move to the next larger brush.

When editing an image with any tool that uses brushes, you can right click on the image and the brushes pop-up palette will appear right next to your cursor.

The keyboard shortcut for the eraser is the letter E. To cycle through all three eraser tools, hold down the Shift key while repeatedly pressing the shortcut key.



The illustration on the below, is the background eraser tool’s options bar. To choose a brush size and type, click on the little down arrow to the right of the brush thumbnail. A pop-up palette of available brushes will appear. For more information on brushes, please see the Brushes page.

In the box titled Tolerance, enter a value for the degree of variation in color that you want to erase. A low setting limits erasure to colors very similar to the one first clicked on. A higher setting allows more shades of the selected color to be erased. You can type a value into the box, or access its slider by pressing on the arrow at the right side of the box and dragging.

The Limits menu, shown activated, determines how many pixels the eraser affects. Contiguous will allow erasing in areas containing the designated color which are also connected to the spot first clicked. Discontiguous will allow erasing in any part of the image containing the designated color.
limits menu


background eraser options


If you have doodled with a tool’s options and want to get back to the default settings, click that tool’s icon at the far left end of its options bar. Choose either Reset Tool to reset only the current tool, or Reset All Tools to restore default settings to every tool.

Please note that all descriptions, and illustrations featured refer to files which are in Photoshop’s .psd format, and which are in RGB color mode. Other file formats, and color modes may generate different options. Some Photoshop features are not available for images not in .psd format, or RGB color mode. To find what color mode your image is in, choose Image > Mode.