I’m going to tell you how to remove anything from a photo in Photoshop. Hi. I’m Jesus Ramirez from The Photoshop Training Channel. In this video I’m going to show you how to remove distracting elements from a photo, using three different techniques. The first two techniques will help you with basic object removals. But with the third technique, we’re really going to get our hands dirty and tackle a complicated task, but I’m going to divide it up into small digestible chunks so that you can follow along. Okay, let’s get started. We’re going to work with this image, we have a couple walking on the beach, and we have a photo bomber. And, if we wanted to remove this photobomber from the photo, we could do so very, very easily. First, duplicate the layer to work nondestructively. You can press Ctrl J, Command J on the back, and we can call that layer, “Edit.” Then you can select the lasso tool, and with the lasso tool, we can just simply freehand a selection.
So, we’re going to freehand a selection around the photo bomber, and it doesn’t have to be very precise, as long as you go around her. But, having said that, try to keep as much of the original background as you can. So, you can hold Alt, Option on the Mac, and click and drag to subtract from the selection. And by the way, if you hold Shift, you add to the selection. And once again, Alt, Option on the Mac, and click and drag. You subtract from a selection. With a selection active, you can go into edit, fill, and we’re going to select Content-Aware from the dropdown, and make sure that you have Color Adaptation checked, and press okay. Then I’m going to press Ctrl D, Command D to deselect. And notice that almost like magic, Photoshop removes that photo bomber. And the way that the Content-Aware technology works is by analyzing the pixels that are surrounding the selection, and it uses that information to generate the pixels that are going to go inside of that selection.
So, Photoshop does a great job in guessing what would be behind this person. And this technique works best with a simple background, like the one we have in this example. So that’s before, and after. And by the way, if you’re interested to find out more about the Content-Aware technology, I made a series of videos dealing with all the different tools that use Content-Aware, including the Content-Aware Fill. If you’re interested in watching that series, I’ll post a link down below in the description.
So, for the next example, we’re going to use this image here of Venice, and I’m going to zoom in. And what we want to do is remove this group of people that are sitting here. So, what I could do is I could try to do what I just did, use a Content-Aware Fill. But as you will see, it won’t give us the results that we’re looking for. So, let me just make a really quick selection, and go into edit, fill, Content-Aware, and notice that Photoshop didn’t do that good of a job this time. It included elements that I do not want to have in the photo. So I’m going to press Ctrl Alt Z, Command Alt Z on the Mac to undo.
And, actually, to work non destructively, I’m going to duplicate this layer. So, I’m going to press Ctrl J, Command J on the Mac, and we’re going to use a different tool. And the tool that we’re going to use is this tool here called the Patch Tool, which is nested under the Spot Healing Brush Tool. Also, make sure that normal and source are selected. Then I’m going to click-and-drag and make a selection around the pixels that I want to replace. With the selection active, I’m going to zoom out and look for an area to sample from. So, it looks like this area is very similar to the area where they’re sitting on, so I’m going to click and drag over to that side.
And you can see the preview inside of the selection, and I can try to match it as best as I can. When I’m happy with the area, I can just release, and then press Ctrl D, Command D to deselect. And notice that Photoshop did a much better job. The reason that I didn’t select this side here, is that there’s a shadow from this lamp post, so I didn’t want to duplicate that. The edit wasn’t perfect, and it was mainly because I didn’t drop the selection in the right area. So, I can try that again, let me click and drag, and just try to get a better closer match. So maybe something like that. Ctrl D, Command D to deselect, so that looks much better. The bricks align better. There’s issues like this area here, but we could easily fix these issues by just using the patch tool on those specific areas.
Then I can double click on the hand tool to zoom out, and you can see the before, and the after. Another tool that I want to show you before we move on into the more complicated example is the Clone Stamp Tool, which simply allows you to paint in duplicate pixels from another area. So, with that tool selected I’m going to zoom in and create a new layer to work non destructively. And, with this layer, I can make sure that current and below are selected, or all layers. It really doesn’t matter in this example, so I’ll leave it on current and below. Then, I can just select areas to copy pixels from. So if I wanted to remove this lamp post, I can start maybe in this corner here, and then use the bracket keys on the keyboard to increase the size of my brush, and I can try to align what I just copied, what I just sampled, this area here, and align it to the other window, and then I can paint in those pixels like so.
And I know I’m getting a little of the shadow, but that’s okay. Then I can sample from a different area, maybe this area here, and line it as best as I can, and paint away the rest of the lamp like so. And I’m not going to spend too much time on this example because the example that I really want to show you is the one after this. But you can see how you can start painting things away nondestructively using the Clone Stamp Tool. And, this is basically what we did in just a couple minutes. Really quickly, we were able to remove that lamp post. And, there’s a couple details there that, again, we’re not going to spend the time on now because I want to spend more time in the next example.
So, we’re going to work with this image here, and what we’re trying to do is remove the truck from the background. So, first of all, we want to work nondestructively, so I’m going to press Ctrl J, Command J on the Mac twice to duplicate the layer two times. The layer on top will be the model, and the layer below that will be the background. And just like with a lot of things in Photoshop, I like to separate my elements so that they’re easier to control.
So, even though we’re going to work with a single image, we’re still going to use different layers to control different elements, and I think that makes it easier to work with. So, now that we have these two layers set up, I’m going to select my model layer, and then click on the quick selection tool. You can click and drag and make a selection around the model. If you’re working with Photoshop CC and newer, you can click on Select Subject while the quick selection tool is selected, and Photoshop will make a selection based on whatever it thinks the main subject is.
In this case, the model. And Photoshop does a fairly good job. It’s not going to be perfect, you can click and drag to add to the selection, and you can also subtract from the selection by holding Alt Option on the Mac, and clicking on areas that shouldn’t be selected, like these areas there. And by the way, the selection doesn’t need to be perfect. As long as you mask out the areas near the distractive object, you should be fine. I’m going to zoom in and just make sure that it selected the bracelet, I didn’t miss one piece. But overall, it did a really good job. I’m going to create a Layer Mask, and now we have a layer that just contains the model. And now, we’re going to create a layer that only contains the background. To do so, I’m going to use the model Layer Mask. So, I’m going to hold Ctrl, that’s Command on the Mac, and click on the Layer Mask thumbnail to load the Layer Mask as a selection.
Notice that my model layer is disabled, and I’m going to select the background layer. With the background layer selected. I’m going to go into select, modify, expand. And this is going to make my mask larger. And I’m going to expand it by five pixels, but this may be different for you depending on the size of your photo. This is a fairly large image, so I’m using five pixels. In some cases, you may need two, or maybe even three. So, we’ll go for five in this case. But the point is, that now I have that space in between my subject and the background. With the background selected, I’m going to hold Shift and backspace to bring up the fill window. Then under contents, I’m going to select Content-Aware, make sure the Color Adaptation is checked, and press okay. And Photoshop is going to remove the model from this photo. It’s not going to do a perfect job, but that’s okay. We’re going to continue building upon this background, to just create a clean background for our model.
So, we have a background and a model layer. What I’m going to do now is look at my photo, look at the pixels that I need to replace, then look at the pixels in the photo that I can use to clone, copy, or somehow use to cover the car. So, right off the bat I’m noticing that I have these columns here. One column, two, three, four, and five. And this column, we can pretty much use the whole thing. Then we have these windows, so I’m probably going to use this window here to replicate it at least three times, to use in these three areas. Then we have this sign, I’m not really sure what that is, but it looks like some sort of advert. But, we can copy it, and place it on the other side.
Then we also have to duplicate parts of the street. And I’ll start there, ’cause I think that’s the easiest place to start. And that’s what you have to do in your photo, look at the contents, and see what you can take, and duplicate. I’m just going to create a selection using the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Then I’m going to press Ctrl J, Command J on the Mac, to duplicate that. So now, I have this duplicate. One thing that I should have mentioned, and I’ll undo that so you can see it, is that when I selected the Rectangular Marquee Tool, I had a feather of three pixels. That means that the edges will not be sharp, they’re going to be blurry, three pixels.
And I left that value on purpose because I don’t want sharp edges. I want smooth edges, so when I copy something, and I paste it somewhere else, I won’t see that sharp edge. So, once again, Ctrl J, Command J to duplicate. And I have that piece right there, and I’m going to move it over to this side. Now obviously, the colors don’t match, but we can fix that. I can create a Levels Adjustment Layer, clip it to the layer below it so that the only thing the levels adjustment layer effects is the strip right below it. So, notice how, if I make an adjustment, it only affects that strip. So, I can click on the black point and drag it to the right until that matches illuminance of that area.
Then, with the Layer Mask selected, I can press Ctrl I, Command I on the Mac, to invert to make the Layer Mask black, which will hide the adjustment. Then, with the brush tool selected, you can paint with white to reveal the effect only in certain areas. Then I can select both layers. If I hold Shift and click on both layers, it selects them. Ctrl E, Command E on the Mac to merge into one layer. So now, I can simply use the move tool, click and drag to the right, to duplicate as I hold Alt. So when you hold Alt, and you have the move tool selected, and you drag something, you will drag a duplicate. I’m going to hold Shift, click on the top and bottom layer to select them all. Then I’m going to press Ctrl E, Command E on the Mac, to merge the three layers into one.
Then I’m going to create a Layer Mask, and paint with black in these areas to reveal the original background. And if something needs to be a little bit darker, like this area here, you can do what we did earlier, create a Levels Adjustment Layer, make sure that it’s clipped. And, just make it darker, then select the Layer Mask. Ctrl I, Command I to invert and paint with white on the Layer Mask to reveal that effect in that area. Remember, Layer Mask, hide and reveal pixels. Black hides and white reveals. With an adjustment layer, you’re hiding the adjustment, or revealing it. So, we’re painting with white to reveal that adjustment. In this tutorial, I don’t need multiple layers, so I’m going to merge down by pressing Ctrl E. So now it’s one layer, and that’s good. Now we’re going to work on the windows, and there’s something I want to show you. First, we’re going to create a new layer, then select the Clone Stamp Tool, and we can copy this window. But watch what happens. If I hold Alt Option on the Mac and click, it will set a clone source.
That means that that’s the area that we’re going to copy pixels from. And when you paint, it creates an exact copy, as you would expect. We can actually change how the Clone Stamp Tool copies pixels, we can invert those pixels horizontally, vertically, scale them, and do all sorts of things. Let me show you what I mean by that. If you go into Window, Clone Source, you can click on this button here to flip the clone horizontally. So that means that if I come in here and hold Alt Option on the Mac, and click to sample from that point, notice how now it inverts it horizontally, and I can paint horizontally. And you can see the target, that’s where I’m sampling from. That little plus X icon that’s moving along the paint brush. Not that if I go right, it moves left. If I move left, it goes right. That is because Photoshop inverts the sample source horizontally, so it allows me to just paint in horizontally, like so.
I’m going to double click on the hand tool. So that’s before, and after. What I’m going to do now is zoom in here and continue working on this area. I’m, going to disable the flip, make the Clone Stamp Tool smaller by tapping on the left bracket key on the keyboard, and I’m just going to make sure that everything here looks right.
And obviously, when you’re working on your image, spend a little more time working on the details. So, there we go, that’s before and after. What I can do now is, make a copy of this area here, edit, copy merge, edit, paste. And just move it to the right, right about here. And I can just merge these onto a layer. So, we have one layer there. And let me zoom in, and I’m going to select the Clone Stamp Tool, and I’m going to use it to fix this middle column. So, I’m going to sample from the column next to it by holding Alt, clicking, and then start painting on the other side.
And remember that it doesn’t need to be perfect because some of these areas are going to be covered by the model. See? And I’m going to drag the windows layer below the road layer, that way the road helps cover some of those pixels. So, actually, you know what? What I’ll do is I’m just going to select both these layers, and just press Ctrl E, Command E on the Mac, just to put them in one single layer. Now I’ll work on the sidewalk, so I’ll hold Alt, and click to sample from this area. And then paint away these imperfections. I’m going fairly fast, just to try to get through all of it in a reasonable amount of time. So, you can see how it’s starting to look much, much better already. And, for this part, I’m just going to duplicate this area. So, I’m going to select it with the Rectangular Marquee Tool, and I’m holding Shift to add to the selection. And then go into edit, copy merge, edit, and paste. And move this over to the other side. Bring down the opacity, and then move it left and right accordingly, using the arrow keys on the keyboard.
Increase the opacity to 100%, and hold Alt, Option on the Mac, and it goes away. So, when you hold Alt, Option on the Mac, and create a new Layer Mask, the Layer Mask becomes black, so it hides all the contents. Then you can select the brush tool and paint with white when you want to reveal those areas, like so. Don’t want to reveal the entire layer, just certain areas; I think it looks better. I’m going to merge all the layers together, so I’ll hold Shift, click on them to select them.
When they’re selected I’ll press Control E to merge them into one layer. Now let’s focus on the remaining pillars. That is a very simple job; we can simply select pixels to clone from and continue cloning. It’s just a repetitive task. I’m not going to spend too much time and be perfect. You can be perfect on your images. But you can see that even going fairly quickly here; I’m getting really good results.
And I’m sampling from that area, and then just cloning in pixels like so. I’m going to zoom out, and it looks like I missed one piece right here. When I do this type of work, usually I have my left hand on the Alt key, and I’m sampling fro many different places and painting. So that’s before and after. This is what it looks like without the model. And what I’m going to do now is merge this layer onto the layer below, so now we have just a single background layer. And notice how the reflections keep repeating themselves.
One thing that you can do to fix a problem like this is to select the clone stamp tool, and just copy areas, and paint over the areas that are obvious that are repeating, like in this panel here. And again, in your image, spend a little more time duplicating things, and seeing what pixels repeat, and just get rid of those. But in this tutorial, I’m not going to spend too much time on that. So, I’m going to zoom out, and now we’re going to work on the Layer Mask or the model layer. But before we do that, we need to remember where the car was; it was in this area here. So, I’m going to select everything, then press Ctrl G, Command G on the Mac, to put those layers into a group, and I’ll call it, “Edit.
” Then I’ll create a Layer Mask, and I’ll paint with black to reveal the original pixels found in the background. I’m doing so because I don’t want to keep using the pixels that I duplicated over and over again because it’ll be obvious that it’s a duplicate. So, I’m trying to use as many of the original pixels as possible. The areas where we have the car, obviously that’s the areas that we really want to fine-tune the selection. So, the only areas that I really want to focus on are the areas that are really close to the model there. And, I’m going to do that in the model layer. So in the model layer, I’m going to hide these pixels away. And obviously, this is where you want to spend a lot of your time fine-tuning the selection so that it’s more believable. And this is why I like this method because I can paint with black on that Layer Mask, hide the edges, and the background comes through. So those are the basic steps for removing a distracting object from a photo.