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In this tutorial, I will demonstrate how to change photo background with Photoshop background eraser tool. The example we have here is an image full of tree branches, we will turn it from a daylight photo into a beautiful sunset photo.

The Photoshop Background Eraser Tool is a fantastic tool to remove background colours from the rest of the image, especially when the image contains complex objects such as tree & hair.

Result Preview



To complete this tutorial, you will need the following stocks:


Sunset Clouds

Brief Intro of Background Eraser Tool

To explain the Background Eraser Tool in a simple way – it’s a tool that takes out unwanted colours, while leave the rest of the photo unaffected.

This tool by itself is not 100% perfect, and you might still need to do some minor adjustments after applying it. However, it is the quickest way of taking out colours from an complex image, and  very easy to master for beginners.

Background Eraser Tool Options

To find the Background Eraser Tool, click and hold your mouse over the Eraser Tool, it’s the second option as shown below:

After selecting the tool, you will see its options appearing on the top bar. You can adjust the size, hardness, spacing, etc. via the window below:

We also have some extra options for the background eraser tool – simply hover your mouse over the text and you will see the name of the option appearing:

The options are:

  • Continuous: continuously sample the colour on the image as you drag your cursor;
  • Once: grab the sample of the initial color only. When you drag your mouse, no other colour will be sampled. This is the most used option;
  • Limits – Contiguous: this option erases pixels in areas that are connected to your sample pixel, and ignore pixels that match the sampled color but are separated by a different colour;
  • Limits – Discontiguous: this option simply erase any pixels that match the sampled color regardless their connection. I normally use this option as it’s the quickest;
  • Limits – Find Edge: same as continuous but more accurate – when you need a sharp edge, use this mode;
  • Tolerance: the higher the tolerance, the more colours you will erase;
  • Protect Foreground Color: Tick this option if you want to protect a certain colour from being erased. You can hold the “Alt” key and set a colour on the image as foreground color.

Let’s have some fun with the Background Eraser Tool!

Step 1

Load the waterscape photo into Photoshop, double-click the background layer to unlock it.

The objective is to replace the clear day sky with a sunset cloud sky. We can see on the photo there are a lot of trees, making it difficult to use the normal selection tool to remove the sky.

Therefore, our best option is to use the background eraser tool.

Let’s use the background eraser tool with the following settings:

Go over the sky area as shown below – you will see as you erase the sky, the tree remain intact:

Keep erasing the sky until it’s all gone:

Step 2

We can now simply add the sunset cloud image below the original photo (fade the bottom part of the sunset photo):

Place the sunset photo layer below the original photo’s layer, and change the original photo layer’s blend mode to “Multiply”, you will see the tree are darkened:

Apply the following colour balance adjustment layer on top to fine-tune the colours:

and this is my final result: (click to enlarge)

That’s it for this tutorial. Hope you learn a thing or two about the Photoshop Background Eraser Tool! You can also try this tool on human portraits and see how you go.

Till next time, have a great day!

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