STEPS: Removing an Element from an Image

1. Draw a selection around the element using the lasso tool. The selection needn't be an exact fit; in fact, you want it rather loose, so allow a buffer zone of at least 6 pixels between the edges of the image and the selection outline.

Figure 8-14: Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to remove the satellite by covering it with selections cloned from the background.

2. Drag the selection outline over a patch in the image. Now that you've specified the element you want to remove, you must find a patch, that is, some portion of the image to cover the element in a manner that matches the surrounding background. In Figure 8-15, the best match seemed an area just below and to the right of the satellite. To select this area, move the selection outline independently of the image merely by dragging it with the lasso tool. (Dragging a selection with a selection tool moves the outline without affecting the pixels.) Make certain you allow some space between the selection outline and the element you're trying to cover.

Figure 8-15: After drawing a loose outline around the satellite with the lasso tool, I dragged the outline to select a portion of the background.

3. Choose Select ^ Feather. Or press Ctrl+Alt+D. Enter a small value (8 or less) in the Feather Radius option box — just enough to make the edges fuzzy.

(I entered 3.) Then press Enter to initiate the operation.

4. Clone the patch onto the area you want to cover. Select the move tool by pressing V. Then Alt-drag the feathered selection to clone the patch and position it over the element you want to cover, as shown in Figure 8-16. To align the patch correctly, choose Select ^ Hide Extras (Ctrl+H) to hide the marching ants and then nudge the patch into position with the arrow keys.

5. Repeat as desired. My patch was only partially successful. The upper-left corner of the selection matches clouds in the background, but the lower-right corner is dark and cloudless, an obvious rift in the visual continuity of the image. The solution: Try again. With the lasso tool, I drew a loose outline around the dark portion of the image and dragged it up and to the left as shown in Figure 8-17.

Figure 8-16: Next, I used the move tool to Alt-drag the feathered selection over the satellite. Sadly, the patch was imperfect and required further adjustments.
Figure 8-17: I used the lasso tool to draw a new outline around the dark, cloudless portion of the patch. Then I dragged the outline to a different spot in the background.

6. It's all deja vu from here. I chose Select^ Feather, entered 6 in the Feather Radius option box — thus allowing the clouds a sufficient range to taper off— and pressed Enter. I then selected the move tool and Alt-dragged the feathered patch over the dark, cloudless rift. Finally, I nudged, nudged, nudged with the arrow keys, and voila, no more satellite. Figure 8-18 shows $200 million worth of hardware vaporized in less than five minutes.

Figure 8-18: I selected a new bit of cloudy sky and placed it over the formerly cloudless portion of the patch. Satellite? What satellite?

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Photoshop Secrets

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