Removing the unwanted from photos

Perhaps the easiest way to remove something from an image is to crop the photo: that is, cut off that part of the picture. This technique is easy enough if that piece of litter or whatever happens to be at the edge of the image and cropping won't ruin your composition. However, when you must cover up rather than crop out, consider both cloning and copy/paste.

One of the keys to using the Clone Stamp tool is keeping an eye on your work. Zoom in close so you can work precisely but use the WindowOArrangeONew Window for [filename] command. Keep that second window zoomed out and off to the side so you can monitor your progress while you work. I also like to keep a copy of the original image open for reference. You can make a copy of the file with the ImageODuplicate command or by clicking the left button at the bottom of the History palette. In Figure 9-10, you see the original image to the upper-left, the zoomed-in work image below, and a zoomed-out second window for the work image. (The Navigator palette shows you what part of the zoomed-in image is visible.)

Here are some tips for working effectively with the Clone Stamp tool:

l Work on a separate layer. Before cloning, click the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette and click the Sample All Layers button on the Options bar. By cloning to the new layer, you protect yourself from irreversible errors (you can always erase part of the upper layer) and can show/hide your work layer to check progress. If the image already has multiple layers and you want to clone from only one, hide the other layers in the Layers palette by clicking the eyeball icons in the left column.

l If color or pattern is uniform, clone near. If, for example, you're removing a power line in a beautiful blue sky, clone from right above and below the power line so that you get the best possible color match. For delicate jobs or larger items, you can clone by halves — clone half from one side and the other half from the other side.

i To avoid a recognizable pattern, clone far. In Figure 9-10, I cloned over the bicycle handles in the lower-right corner of the image from a variety of places to avoid creating any recognizable replicas of nearby flowers or rocks. You should, however, try to clone from areas that are approximately the same distance from the lens as the area over which you're cloning. If you clone from the far distance into the foreground, you'll have a recognizable size mismatch and perhaps a focal difference as well.

ii To copy areas or objects, use Aligned. In Figure 9-10, I copied patches of wildflowers, grass, and rock. By using the Aligned option, the relationship between the point from which I sampled and the point to which I cloned remained constant when I released the mouse button. To pick a new source point, I Option-clicked/Alt-clicked.

i To repeat a pattern or texture, don't use Aligned. If you have a specific object, texture, or pattern that you want to replicate in more than one area, you can clear the Aligned check box on the Options bar. Every time you release the mouse button, the source point returns to the exact spot where you Option-clicked/Alt-clicked. You can copy the same part of the image into as many different places as you choose.

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Figure 9-10: Use the Clone Stamp to remove unwanted bits and pieces.

i You can vary the tool's opacity and blending mode. Generally speaking, when you want to hide something in the image, use the Normal blending mode and 100% opacity. However, you can also clone with other blending modes and reduce opacity to subdue rather than hide and, of course, for fun special effects.

i Adjust your brush size on the fly. Pressing the left and right brackets keys (to the right of P on the standard English keyboard) decreases and increases the brush diameter without having to open the Brushes palette.

i Check the brush's hardness and spacing settings. To get the smoothest result for general cloning, reduce the brush's Hardness setting to about 25%, allowing edges to blend. There are times, however, when you'll need a more distinct edge to the brush, but you'll rarely need to clone with a brush set harder than perhaps 90%. In the full-size Brushes palette (found by default in the Palette Well), I generally set the Spacing (in Brush Tip Shape) to 1% for cloning to ensure the edge is as smooth as possible.

The Spot Healing Brush, new in Photoshop CS2, works much like the Healing Brush to repair and replace texture. However, instead of designating a source point by Option-clicking/Alt-clicking, the Spot Healing Brush samples from the immediate surrounding area, which makes it perfect for repairing little irregularities in an area of rather consistent texture. The Spot Healing Brush could, for example, do a fine job with individual flowers and small rocks in Figure 9-10, but it's not up to the task of hiding a bicycle or a steer.

Larger challenges sometime require more drastic measures, such as duplicate layers and layer masks. Take a look at Figure 9-11. At the top left, you see the "before" photo: at the top right, the "after" image. Below are images from three key steps in the process.

Here are the steps I took to remove the boy from the group photo:

1. Decide what needs to go and how best to cover it.

In this case, the young man is no longer welcome in the group photo. The easiest way to remove him (without using scissors and leaving an empty hole) is to move the two young women at his right to the left.

2. Make a selection of the area that you'll use to cover.

I used a large rectangular selection that included everything to the right of the young man.

Use the keyboard shortcut §6+J/Ctrl+J to copy the selection to a new layer.

©2002 PhotoSpin, PhotoSpin image #0800034

Figure 9-11: A new layer with a layer mask and — POOF — he's gone!

©2002 PhotoSpin, PhotoSpin image #0800034

Figure 9-11: A new layer with a layer mask and — POOF — he's gone!

4. Position the new layer.

Use the Move tool to slide the new layer over the top of the area you want to remove.

5. Add a layer mask.

Click the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers palette, and then paint with black in the layer mask to hide areas of the upper layer. As you can see in the lower-left in Figure 9-11, the upper layer covers areas of the lower layer that need to show (such as the man's head), creating an unnatural shadow pattern. The layer mask in the lower-center image exposes as much of the lower layer as possible, leaving the upper layer visible only where necessary to show the two young women and their shadows as well as to hide the people on the lower layer.

6. Look for and adjust anomalies.

In the lower-center of Figure 9-11, you see that one woman's foot should be in the man's shadow. I added a new layer, made a selection of the area that should be in shadow, filled with the color of the toes that are already in shadow, and then used the Multiply blending mode and the Opacity slider to match the original shadow. (See the lower-right image in Figure 9-11.)

Glancing again at the lower-center image in Figure 9-11, you see the area that needs to be cropped, off to the right. Using a rectangular selection of everything I want to save and the ImageOCrop command, and the alteration is complete.

You can use a similar technique to move something in your image to a new location. As shown in Figure 9-12, copy the entire image, reposition it, use a layer mask to hide parts of the upper layer, and clone to remove anything not needed on the exposed areas of the lower layer. In Figure 9-12, the background layer is copied and moved upward (after using the ImageOCanvas Size command to expand the canvas), and a layer mask hides everything except the boy, his racket, and the ball. On the lower layer, the boy is cloned out. (The look of surprise from the boy in the red hat in the background is simply a fortuitous coincidence that seems to add creditability to the adjusted image.)

Figure 9-12: One small step for Photoshop, one giant leap for mankind!
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