How to Remove Background in Photoshop

Learn how to remove the background in Photoshop by combining the use of multiple Photoshop tools. We’ll first use the Background Eraser (E) tool to remove the background and then we’ll use the Pen Tool in order to remove the other parts of the woman portrait. After that, we’ll try to fix those glitchy edges which is common while using the Background Eraser tool by cloning them. At the end, I’ll show you another way to cut out the background using a layer mask as well.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1 – Accessing Background Eraser Tool

This tool works by sampling the color from the image. Basically, it samples the colors to erase them and then it erases those pixels by matching them with the sampled color. Whenever you click on the image to erase its parts this is when it samples the colors to erase.

You can activate this tool by pressing (E) or alternatively you can hover to Toolbox and it is underneath the eraser tool.


Step 2 – Open the Image

Now open up an image which you’d like to remove the background from. I am using this woman portrait image and I just opened it in Photoshop by selecting File > Open.

Once you opened the image duplicate it by pressing CTRL + J so you’ll have a backup of your original in case anything goes wrong. Now you can hide the visibility of the original layer by clicking on the eye icon as we’ll use the duplicated one.


Step 3 – Using the Background Eraser Tool

Now we’ll set the tool for the use. Set the Sampling: Continuous that means it will sample the different colors whenever we click on the area of the image to erase it. You can see in our image we have many colors so that is why I selected it.

Set the Limit: Edges and Tolerance to 25-29%. Low tolerance value will limit the eraser near to the sampled color and vice versa.

You can also check the Protect Foreground Color option and this will tell the eraser tool to not to erase the foreground color pixels. You can also select a color from the image to protect it.


Step 4 – Start Removing the Background

With the given setting above start erasing the background by painting on the image. Make sure you are using a hard round brush with Lower Hardness around 68% so the edges of the hair extract out in a smooth manner.

You can set the hardness of the brush, right click on the anywhere while the Background Eraser is active and then use the slider to reduce the hardness. You can also vary the brush size as well.

Here you can see I used the tool on the right side:


Similarly, I used it on the left side of the image as well. Remember you can also sample the color from the model hair to protect it whenever you are close to hair. So, right now our hardest part has done which is hair and for remaining body parts you can use the Pen Tool (P).

Don’t worry about the hair glitches and some hair strands which we just lost we’ll fix them in a couple of steps.


Here I removed the background completely:


Step 5 – Fixing the Edges

The eraser tool has done most of our work but we can do a lot more to improve the image mostly the hairs. Now we’ll paint the hair to fix it using the Brush Tool.


Activate the Brush Tool (B). Using a soft round brush paint the hair strands like I did it below. Remember to create a new layer (CTRL + SHIFT + N) for hair and sample the color from the model hair by pressing ALT Key while the brush tool is active.


I used a soft round brush with brush size 1 to 3px for painting hairs with lower opacity, which you’ve already seen set to 52%, but you can increase or decrease the opacity of the brush depends on you how stronger or smoother the hair you want. If you have a tablet then it won’t take you long and if not then you can also use the mouse like I am using it.

Here how I painted the hair strands wherever I think there is needed to be:


Not only Brush Tool you can also use Smudge Tool and Clone Stamp Tool (S) to fix those hairs. Try to experiment with it.

I went one step ahead and I added a different background behind the woman and then I blurred it using Gaussian Blur filter. You can use other backgrounds as well just put the background layer under the woman layer.


Step 6 – Using Layer Mask

You can also use Layer Mask to cut out the background. I’ll show you now and open the dog image in Photoshop.


Step 7

Activate the Quick Selection Tool by pressing (W) on the keyboard. Make sure that you have selected Add to Selection option on the option bar.


Now use the tool and drag it over the background of the dog to select it like I did it below.


Step 8

Since it works on the colors then sometimes the Quick Selection Tool select the subject parts as well which we don’t want. The below image showing that it has selected some parts of the dog ear because some of the color pixels of the dog ear matching with the background.


While the Quick Selection tool is still active, Hold the ALT key to minus the selection and make it correct like I did:


Now go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to extract the background. If you got the background extracted instead of the dog, then select the layer mask and then press CTRL + I to inverse the results of the layer mask.

Here are the results:


Now you can add any image behind the dog. You can also correct edges using Brush Tool like I already shown to improve the selection. This is how you can get rid of the background of any image.


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