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
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 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.
Eraser and Brush Tools: Paint flat colors and shapes, and erase cloned layers of image information. Basic, down and dirty photo editing tools.
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 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 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 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”
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.
Select an object using your Lasso tool, shortcut key . The Lasso works fine as this selection can be rough.
Navigate to Edit > Fill, and select “Content-Aware,” as illustrated above, from the pull-down menu.
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
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.
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.
With a selection made with the Lasso tool, navigate to Edit > Fill and select “Content Aware” again.
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
For the perfectionist, cleaning up the lumpy looking textures that the Clone Stamp can leave is fairly simple using the Pattern Stamp Tool.
Sample an piece of your image with your Marquee Tool, shortcut key .
Navigate to Edit > Define Pattern to create a new Pattern from your selection. Click OK to continue.
Click and hold down on the Clone Stamp tool in your Tools Panel until you can select the Pattern Stamp Tool.
Pick your new pattern from the Options at the top of your screen, in the Options Panel.
Then simply right click in your image in order to pick as soft a brush as possible to paint with.
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 on and off and paint over them.
In addition to this, simple use of the Crop Tool, shortcut , 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 email@example.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