• ARTICLES
SEARCH

How-To Geek

How To Remove People and Objects From Photographs In Photoshop

You might think that it’s a complicated process to remove objects from photographs. But really Photoshop makes it quite simple, even when removing all traces of a person from digital photographs. Read on to see just how easy it is.

Photoshop was originally created to be an image editing program, and it excels at it. With hardly any Photoshop experience, any beginner can begin removing objects or people from their photos. Have some friends that photobombed an otherwise great pic? Tell them to say their farewells, because here’s how to get rid of them with Photoshop!

Tools for Removing Objects

sshot-145

Removing an object is not really “magical” work. Your goal is basically to cover up the information you don’t want in an image with information you do want. In this sample image, we want to remove the cigar smoking man, and leave the geisha. Here’s a couple of the tools that can be useful to work with when attempting this kind of task.

clone stamp toolpattern stamp

Clone Stamp and Pattern Stamp Tool: Samples parts of your image from your background, and allows you to paint into your image with your mouse or stylus.

eraserbrush

Eraser and Brush Tools: Paint flat colors and shapes, and erase cloned layers of image information. Basic, down and dirty photo editing tools.

pen toolquick selectionlassocrop

Pen, Quick Selection, Lasso, and Crop tools: Select, isolate, and remove parts of your image with these selection tools. All useful in their own way. Some, like the pen tool, are nightmarishly tough on beginners.

Remove a Person with the Clone Stamp Tool (Video)


The video above uses the Clone Stamp tool to sample and paint with the background texture. It’s a simple tool to use, although it can be confusing, possibly counter-intuitive. Here’s some pointers, in addition to the video above.

  • Select shortcut key s to choose the Clone tool stamp from the Tools Panel.
  • Always create a copy of your background layer before doing heavy edits by right clicking on the background in your Layers Panel and selecting “Duplicate.”
  • Hold alt with the Clone Tool selected, and click anywhere in your image to sample that area.
  • When you’re sampling an area, your cursor is “Aligned” with your sample area. When you paint, your sample area moves.
  • You can turn the “Aligned” setting off by clicking the sshot-147 in the Options Panel at the top of your screen if you want.
  • Change your brush size and hardness as shown in the video by right-clicking in your image.
  • Use your lasso to copy and paste pieces of your image in order to cover up any parts that seem appropriate.

Photoshop Magic with the “Content-Aware Fill”

sshot-140sshot-141

One of the hallmark features of CS5 is the “Content-Aware Fill.” Content aware fill can be an excellent shortcut to removing objects and even people in Photoshop, but it is somewhat limited, and can get confused. Here’s a basic rundown on how it works.

sshot-140

Select an object using your Lasso tool, shortcut key L. The Lasso works fine as this selection can be rough.

sshot-135

Navigate to Edit > Fill, and select “Content-Aware,” as illustrated above, from the pull-down menu.

sshot-141

It’s surprisingly simple. After some processing, Photoshop has done the work of removing the object for you. It takes a few moments, and it is not perfect, so be prepared to touch it up with some Copy-Paste, or some Clone stamp action.

Content Aware Fill Has Its Limits

sshot-134

Keep in mind that the Content Aware Fill is meant to be used with other techniques in mind. It doesn’t always perform perfectly, but can give you a great starting point.

sshot-134

Take this image for instance. It is actually plausible to hide this figure and make this image look like he was never there at all.

sshot-135

With a selection made with the Lasso tool, navigate to Edit > Fill and select “Content Aware” again.

sshot-136

The result is surprisingly good, but as you can see, worthy of some touch up. With a result like this one, you’ll have to get your hands dirty with copy-paste to create believable lines in the background. With many photographs, Content Aware Fill will simply get confused and give you results you won’t be happy with.

Additional Touch Up for Bad Background Textures with the Pattern Stamp Tool

sshot-150

For the perfectionist, cleaning up the lumpy looking textures that the Clone Stamp can leave is fairly simple using the Pattern Stamp Tool.

sshot-130

Sample an piece of your image with your Marquee Tool, shortcut key m.

sshot-131

Navigate to Edit > Define Pattern to create a new Pattern from your selection. Click OK to continue.

sshot-129

Click and hold down on the Clone Stamp tool in your Tools Panel until you can select the Pattern Stamp Tool.

sshot-133

Pick your new pattern from the Options at the top of your screen, in the Options Panel.

sshot-152

Then simply right click in your image in order to pick as soft a brush as possible to paint with.

sshot-155

Paint into your image until your background is as smooth as you want it to be, making your painted out object more and more invisible.

If you get lines from your repeated texture, experiment turning the sshot-147 on and off and paint over them.

sshot-156

In addition to this, simple use of the Crop Tool, shortcut c, can recompose an image, making it look as if it never had another object in it at all. Combine these techniques to find a method that works best for your images.


Have questions or comments concerning Graphics, Photos, Filetypes, or Photoshop? Send your questions to ericgoodnight@howtogeek.com, and they may be featured in a future How-To Geek Graphics article.

Image Credits: Geisha Kyoto Gion by Todd Laracuenta via Wikipedia, used under Creative Commons. Moai Rano raraku by Aurbina, in Public Domain. Chris Young visits Wrigley by TonyTheTiger, via Wikipedia, used under Creative Commons.

Eric Z Goodnight is an Illustrator and Graphics Geek who hopes to make Photoshop more accessible to How-To Geek readers. When he’s not headbanging to heavy metal or geeking out over manga, he’s often off screen printing T-Shirts.

  • Published 02/16/11

Comments (18)

  1. Jeroen

    Cool, and can you explain how to do this with the GIMP too?

  2. Marcy

    thanks… I know it could be done, but did not know how

  3. Kastaldi

    These removal procedures can be done with Gimp too, commands and results are similar once you understand how it works (I don’t know if GIMP has some “content-aware” function….) but some tutorial would surely help. Moreover, people should support the open-source philosophy and these sites should help fighting piracy so more GIMP tutorials and less Photoshop tutorials. :)

  4. kevin_Spencer

    @Kastaldi : The content aware tool was in GIMP before it arrived to Photoshop, it’s called Resynthesizer. You can download it from here: http://www.logarithmic.net/pfh/resynthesizer or directly from the Ubuntu (or other Linux distros) repositories.

  5. Eric Z Goodnight

    @kevin_spencer: I like the look of Resynthesizer quite a lot and I was not aware of it. Wouldn’t have been the first time corporate software companies took an idea from OSS people.

  6. Jason Hart

    GIMP, GIMP, GIMP! Do a series on GIMP!

  7. Alvin

    @Jeroen, Kastaldi and Jason Hart: Right on!

  8. mandy velasco

    THANKS to how to geek , now, may I know,

    is there any article regarding how to add people or objects to photograph ?

  9. Jenny

    Mandy, it’s called cut and paste! ;-)

  10. jaxter cloverfield

    Love this tutorial! :)

  11. Q-Bee

    This is cooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool….. I love this…Thankxs man

  12. saKana

    Thanks!
    Is this possible on Macromedia Fireworks?

  13. Omar Hafiz

    This article greatly improves my photo manipulation experiences.

  14. Rasta

    Awesome, always wanted to know how to do this with Photoshop. Yeah it is a lot easier to do than I thought it would be.

    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Richard

    Thanks to How To Greek,now is there a way to replace people or objects removed,Thank You,Richard

  16. Ric

    Any ( decent ) paint program can do this. I’ve been doing it for more than twenty years with all kinds of “Paint” software… since, at least Mac Paint(the original).
    MS Paint and Paint.NET(better) can do it and both are free and extremely easy to use for windoz OS.

    It is extremely labor intensive and rarely produces results that any professional would not instantly recognize as faked.
    L00K at the woman’s shoulders …shades of the Hunchback of Notre Dame!

    I prefer GIMP. There are things, supposedly, that Photoshop can do that GIMP cannot. I’ve never had a need for whatever it is. I suspect it is probably something to do with integration with Dreamweaver …

  17. polo12345

    TY

  18. MJ

    My Gateway laptop, despite careful handling, has quit completely. Power cable checks out ok, but does not appear to be getting juice to the computer. A reliable source tells me the problem is probably the dc power plug, something that is quite common with Gateway, but wants $$$ to repair it. How hard is it? And can I do it myself? I am somewhat electronic-welder savy.

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!