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How To Fix The GIMP Eraser Not Working

GIMP is a free and reasonably good alternative to Photoshop. The app’s UI isn’t the best or the most modern but it has all the tools that you’d find in Photoshop. 

GIMP has the same tools as Photoshop but many of its tools work differently and the workflow is different. Despite having the same tools, there is a noticeable difference between the two apps.

GIMP Eraser Not Working

GIMP eraser not working

GIMP has an eraser tool that, like all eraser tools in an image editor, can delete the part of an image that it is used on. It can be used to remove a selected part of an image, to erase a portion of a masked layer, or to simply delete any random line or item.

The eraser tool in GIMP is simple but if you’re having trouble getting it to work and erase a part of an image, try the following fixes.

1. Select a layer

GIMP’s tools don’t automatically select the layer that they are used on. If no layer is selected, a tool generally won’t work. Some effects or tools may work e.g., a canvas resize, but most tools can’t work unless you tell them which layer to work on.

  1. Open an image in GIMP.
  2. On the menu bar, go to Windows>Recently closed docks>layers.
  3. In the layers window, select a layer. A selected layer has a blue highlight.
  4. Use the eraser tool to remove a part of the image.

2. Unselect all 

It is possible that you’ve selected a small part of the image has been selected i.e., the selection is active and you’re not aware of it. The eraser tool won’t work anywhere other than inside the selected portion.

  1. Tap the Shift+Ctrl+A keyboard shortcut to unselect everything.
  2. Select a layer.
  3. Use the eraser tool.

3. Unlock the layer

A locked layer prevents any and all changes from being made to it. 

  1. Go to the Layers window.
  2. Select the layer you want to erase.
  3. At the top, make sure the icons next to Lock: should all be unselected.
  4. If the icons are selected, click them to unselect the icon.
  5. Use the eraser tool.

4. Add alpha channel

If you’re using the eraser tool and you see a solid color appear under the part you’ve erased instead of a transparent background, your image/file doesn’t have transparency. You need to add the alpha channel to add transparency in GIMP.

  1. Open the image in GIMP.
  2. Right-click a layer in the Layers window.
  3. From the context menu, select Add Alpha channel.
  4. Use the eraser tool.

5. Eraser tool settings

The eraser tool isn’t always a solid round-tipped brush. You can use all sorts of brushes, and varying degrees of hardness for it. The eraser tool’s settings may be preventing it from erasing the image.

  1. Select the eraser tool from the toolbox.
  2. Make sure the Opacity is 100%.
  3. Set the hardness to 100%.
  4. Try erasing now.
  5. If it still doesn’t work, use the reset button to reset the erase tool’s settings.

Conclusion

An eraser tool is simple in terms of what it does but the tool itself has settings that can reduce its impact when used e.g., if the hardness is set to a low value, the erase tool will simulate a very light pressure giving the impression that it isn’t working. Go through the settings for the tool and make sure the brush point is configured to erase the way you need it to.

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