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Learning How to Erase Areas

As you have learned, the Extract feature automatically discards the area of an image that is not highlighted and filled. But there may be times when you want to simply erase an area without going through the extraction process. Photoshop provides three eraser tools that can accommodate all your expunging needs. Figure 10 shows samples of the effects of each eraser tool. The specific use for each eraser tool is reflected in its options bar, as shown in Figure 11.

Understanding Eraser Tools

The Eraser Tool has the opposite function of a brush. Instead of brushing on pixel color, you drag it off. When you erase a layer that has a layer beneath it, and the Lock transparent pixels button is not selected, you'll expose the color on the underlying layer when you erase. If there is no underlying layer, you'll expose transparency. If the Lock transparent pixels button is selected, you'll expose the current background color on the toolbox, regardless of the color of an underlying layer.

Setting options for eraser tools

Each eraser tool has its own options bar. You can select the brush mode for the Eraser Tool, and the brush tip and size for both the Eraser Tool and Background Eraser Tool. Depending on the tool, you can also set the tolerance—how close a pixel color must be to another color to be erased with the tool. The lower the tolerance, the closer the color must be to the selection. You can also specify the opacity of the eraser strength. A 100% opacity erases pixels to complete transparency. To set options, click an eraser tool on the toolbox, then change the tolerance and opacity settings using the text boxes and list arrows on the options bar.

The Magic Eraser Tool grabs similarly colored pixels based on the tool settings, and then exposes background color in the same way as the Eraser Tool. However, instead of dragging the eraser, you click the areas you want to change. The Magic Eraser Tool erases all pixels on the current layer that are close in color value to where you first click or just those pixels that are contiguous to that area.


Examples of eraser tools


Examples of eraser tools

Eraser tools expose pixels of background color on toolbox (when Lock transparent pixels is selected)

Magic Eraser erases similarly colored pixels

Background Eraser exposes transparency or the color on the layer below

Background Eraser exposes transparency or the color on the layer below

The Background Eraser Tool contains small crosshairs in the brush tip. When you click, the tool selects a color in the crosshairs, then erases that particular color anywhere within the brush tip size. The Background Eraser Tool exposes the color of the layer beneath it, or it exposes transparency if there is no layer beneath it. You can preserve objects in the foreground,

Eraser tools expose pixels of background color on toolbox (when Lock transparent pixels is selected)

Magic Eraser erases similarly colored pixels while eliminating the background (it works best with a large brush tip size). The Background Eraser Tool will sample the background colors of the current layer as you drag the tool in your image—you can watch the current background color change on the toolbox.


Option bars for the eraser tools

/y - Stushr • « Modt: Brush V Op*Jtr: 100% > Fk>Wl IMMt > □ Erlli to rtfllory

Eraser Tool options

- Bruih: * » -AS/Br* Limit:: c«4iquwi V Tc4»rjnc« SOTt □ PratKt Foreground Color

Background Eraser Tool options

Tool options

Use the Background Eraser Tool


Brush Preset picker

1. Click the Indicates layer visibility button 9

on the Kiwi layer to hide the layer.

2. Click the Fruit and Vegetables layer to make it the active layer.

3. Click the Zoom Tool ^ on the toolbox.

4. Click the center of the kiwi with the Zoom pointer until the zoom factor is 300%.

5. Click the Background Eraser Tool ^ on the toolbox.

TIP Look under the Eraser Tool if the Background Eraser Tool is hidden. To cycle through the eraser tools, press and hold [Shift], then press [E],

6. Click the Click to open the Brush Preset picker list arrow on the options bar, set the Diameter to 5 px, the Hardness to 100%, and the Spacing to 15% as shown in Figure 12.

8. Keeping the crosshairs of the Brush tip pointer (?) on the kiwi, drag the brush tip over the kiwi until it is completely erased, as shown in Figure 13.

TIP As you drag the pointer, background colors change on the toolbox when the pointer moves over a different colored pixel in the layer beneath it.

You hid the Kiwi layer, zoomed in on the Fruit and Vegetables layer, selected a brush tip for the Background Eraser Tool, and erased the kiwi on the Fruit and Vegetables layer.












Pen Pressure

Selection erased on layer


Selection erased on layer

Erased area exposes pixels on Background layer


Object adjusted in image


Object adjusted in image

Equalize adjustment applied to Kiwi layer

Equalize brightness and contrast

Click the Kiwi layer on the Layers palette and make the layer visible.

Click the Zoom Tool ^ on the toolbox. Press and hold [Alt] (Win) or [option] (Mac), click the center of the kiwi with the Zoom pointer until the zoom factor is 100%, then release [Alt] (Win) or [option] (Mac).

Click Image on the menu bar, point to Adjustments, then click Equalize. The Equalize command evens out the brightness and contrast values in the kiwi.

5. Save your work, then compare your image to Figure 14.

You adjusted the color of the kiwi by equalizing the colors, then viewed the color-adjusted image.

Redistributing brightness values

The Equalize command changes the brightness values of an image's pixels so they more evenly display the entire range of brightness levels. Photoshop changes the brightest and darkest values by remapping them so that the brightest values appear as white and the darkest values appear as black, then it redistributes the intermediate pixel values evenly throughout the grayscale. You can use this command to "tone down" an image that is too bright. Conversely, you could use it on a dark image that you want to make lighter.

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