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Is It Time to Ditch the Background Eraser Tool in Photoshop?

When it comes to masking hair, the background eraser tool usually does the job. For images with solid backgrounds, it provides a quick solution; however, getting a clean result with this tool requires more work than you think. Luckily, there is a better way to mask hair in Photoshop CC.

Hair masking and complex selections are tricky, and even third-party plugins cannot do a flawless job on complex selections. Therefore, you have to create the masks via an alpha channel or use the good old background eraser tool, which does the job just fine. Using this tool is easy, and it will quickly remove the background, but for a production-ready result, you will probably want to spend more time than alpha channel technique.

In this video, Jesús Ramirez from Photoshop Training Channel explains why the background eraser tool is not efficient and why it requires more time while producing unsatisfying results. To reveal the cons of using this tool, Ramirez demonstrates it on a portrait photo and compares the end result with the technique he actually recommends.

Which technique do you use for masking hair and what do you think about Photoshop’s complex selection tools? Let us know in the comments section below.  

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2 Comments

Raymond Craig's picture

Neither of these tools are very good for extracting hair. With a solid color background like this you're still going to get much better results using something like Calculations as your starting point. While refine edge and other tools have improved each year (and they're tempting to use because they're fast) they are still not quite as good as some of the older methods.

David Love's picture

Not as long as Adobe is famous for making bad guessing tools. None of their auto background crap works perfectly and you'll usually spend more time cleaning up the mess left behind than doing is the slower method. I've always used background eraser tool for hair and pen tool for body. I assume every pic of mine will be movie poster size so I want every detail there. I light knowing I will be extracting the hair and add the contrast to make it easy. Even then the auto stuff chokes, no matter what Adobe influencers say.