Learn how to remove unwanted objects, add objects by cloning, and fix other imperfections in your images with retouching tools in Adobe Photoshop.
Use the Spot Healing Brush tool to remove objects
One of the most magical things you can do in Photoshop is to delete unwanted spots and even objects from an image. In this video, we'll see how quick it is to do that using the Spot Healing Brush Tool. If you're following along, download the practice files for this tutorial and open this image. We're going to try to clean up the model's shirt, removing these spots and dabs of paint. You'll be amazed at how well that works, even on a pattern like this striped shirt. Start by zooming in for a closer view. Select the Zoom tool in the Tools panel and then click a couple of times on the image to zoom in. If you don't see the area of the shirt that you want to work on, get the Hand tool in the Tools panel and click and drag in the image. Now let's select the Spot Healing Brush Tool, which is over in the Tools panel right here. Don't confuse this tool with a related tool, the Healing Brush Tool. We want the Spot Healing Brush Tool. Let's start by removing a spot, like this brown spot here. When you're removing a spot, you want your brush tip to be just a little bigger than the spot. Mine's a bit small. So, I'll go up to the Options bar for this tool and I'll click on the Brush Picker and I'll drag the Size slider over to the right. And then click in a blank area to close the Brush Picker. Back in the image, to remove that brown spot, I'll just click on it - and poof it's gone. What's happened is that Photoshop copied a nearby part of the shirt without a spot and used that to cover up the spot, blending the copied content with the area around the spot. Now let's try a smaller spot. Rather than go to the Options bar and try to change the brush size you can change brush size while you're working on an image. To do that I'll hover over a spot that I want to delete, this tiny blue spot, and then press the left bracket key on the keyboard. The left bracket key is located just to the right of the P key on most keyboards. Each time you press and release the left bracket key, the brush tip gets smaller. And if you were to press the right bracket key, the brush tip would get bigger. So now I'll click on that spot - and it's gone. Try removing a few other spots, changing the brush tip on the fly, using the left bracket key and the right bracket key each time. Now spots aren't the only thing you can remove with this tool. You can remove irregular areas like this paint spot too. To do that just click and drag over the thing you want to remove - and it's gone. Practice those techniques, clicking on spots and dragging over irregular areas, to continue removing the paint from this shirt. If you get a result you don't like, try again with a different size brush. And if you need to move to another area, select the hand tool again and drag. Here you can see how my example looks after just a few minutes working on the shirt with the Spot Healing Brush Tool. When you're done, select the Zoom tool again in the Tools panel and go up to the Options bar and click the Fit Screen option to see the whole photo on the screen again. If you're happy with the result, choose File, Save As... and in the Save As dialog box, set the Format to Photoshop or PSD, which is the best format for a working copy of an image, as you learned in an earlier tutorial in this series. And then click Save. Now that you know how simple it is to work with the Spot Healing Brush Tool, try using it on your own images to remove everything from dust spots to small objects.
What you learned: To remove objects
- In the Layers panel, select the layer that contains spots or small objects you want to remove.
- In the Tools panel, select the Spot Healing Brush tool.
- In the options bar, adjust the size and hardness of the Spot Healing Brush tool to fit the item you’re trying to remove.
- Click on a spot or drag over an object you want to remove.
Use the Clone Stamp tool to add objects
A fun way to add objects to an image is to use the Clone Stamp tool to copy content from one part of an image and stamp or paint it in wherever you want it. Let's try that on this image from the practice files for this tutorial, using the Clone Stamp tool to fill in some of the sparse areas of this flower arrangement with more flowers. Go to the Tools panel and select the Clone Stamp tool, which is here. Hover over the image to check your brush tip. My brush tip is very small on this large image. So, I'm going to go up to the Options bar for the Clone Stamp tool and click the Brush Picker. And there I'll drag the Size slider to the right, to make my brush tip bigger. It's also a good idea to increase the Hardness of this brush from its default of zero. I'm going to put it way up here. And then click in a blank area to close the Brush Picker. Now we're going to load the Clone Stamp tool with an object to copy, sort of like you would load a paintbrush with paint. To do that move down to the bottom right of the image over these flowers, and then hold down the Option key on a Mac or the ALT key on Windows. Notice that the brush tip changes to a target icon. Click there and then release your finger from the Option or ALT key. And the brush tip changes to its normal view. Now move up to an empty area, so that you can see that your brush tip is now loaded with those flowers that you just sampled. Click and drag and you're painting with the flowers. As you do, there's a small cross symbol, a source point, that's moving along with you, sampling more flowers, so that you can paint with them using the Clone Stamp tool. Now that you have an idea of how this works let's try this to fill in the flower arrangement. First let's undo what we've painted here by pressing Command + Z on the Mac or CTRL + Z on a PC. And if you need to step back more steps, go up to the Edit menu and use step backward. Then move over the flower arrangement and hold down the Option key or the ALT key on Windows. The cursor changes to a target. Click and release your finger from the Option or ALT key. And then move over an area, where you need more flowers, and start painting. And you can see that the source point is moving along with you, adding more content to this image. If you get a result that you don't like, try loading your brush with different flowers. Hold down the Option or ALT key again somewhere else and then release your finger and paint over the area that you didn't like. Go ahead and continue the same way on your own, loading your brush tip with flowers and cloning them in to fill out that flower arrangement. If you'd like to see an example: Here's an example I've been working on. And here are some tips to help you as you work: As you go, try loading your Clone Stamp from different areas of the image so you don't get a telltale repeating pattern. And you can also change your brush size as you work, to clone smaller or larger areas. Take your time and have fun with this. When you get a result that you like, go up to the File menu, choose Save As... and save your image in the Photoshop or PSD format. And don't forget to try this fun technique on your own images.
What you learned: To add objects with the Clone Stamp tool
- In the Layers panel, select the layer that contains content you want to copy and use elsewhere in the image.
- In the Tools panel, select the Clone Stamp tool.
- In the options bar, adjust the size and hardness of the Clone Stamp tool to fit the object you’re cloning.
- Press the Alt key (Windows) or the Option key (macOS) and click an area of the image from which you want to copy content.
- Release the Alt (Option) key and drag over a new area to which you want to copy content. As you drag, the Clone Stamp tool copies content from the source and paints it into the new area.
Use the Content-Aware fill command to remove an object
It's always amazing to see how Photoshop can remove a large object or sometimes even a person from an image. One way to try removing a large object is by filling over it with a special fill command: Content-Aware Fill. Let's try it on this image, where we can remove this large wooden walkway. The first step is to make a rough selection around the object you want to remove. We'll use the Lasso tool, but you could use a different selection tool of your choice, keeping in mind that your selection has to include a little of the background, as you'll see. I'm going to click on the Lasso tool in the Tools panel and then move into the image and draw a selection outside the walkway. Now this is important: You have to include a small bit of the surrounding area inside the selection all the way around. Down at the bottom I'm going to go outside the Document window and all the way around and back to the beginning and then release my finger from the mouse or trackpad to complete the selection. Now comes the main step: Go up to the Edit menu and choose Fill... And in the Fill dialog box go to the Contents menu and choose Content-Aware. Then just click OK. In just a second the walkway is gone. Let's deselect by going to the Select menu and choosing Deselect or using the keyboard shortcut Command + D on Mac, CTRL + D on Windows. What Photoshop has done is to automatically take some grass from outside of the walkway, use it to cover up the walkway, and then blend the result in with the surrounding area. It really is amazing. Now here's a bonus tip: If you see any blurry areas where the walkway was, you can try using the Clone Stamp Tool to cover that area. To do that go over to the Tools panel and select the Clone Stamp Tool. And then go up to its Options bar to the Opacity slider, click there and drag the Opacity slider to the left to lower the strength of the opacity of the Clone Stamp Tool. And then click in a blank area to close that slider. Move into the image and find some grass that isn't blurry. If your brush tip is really small, press the right bracket key on the keyboard, which is near the P key on the keyboard, a couple of times to make the brush tip bigger. Then sample some of the non-blurry grass by holding down the Option key on the Mac or the ALT key on Windows, so the cursor changes to this target symbol. Click to sample there and then remove your finger from the Option key or the ALT key. Now move over the area that's a little bit blurry and click and drag to add some texture back in there. If you do like the result go up to the File menu, choose Save As... and save your image in the Photoshop format. You'll be surprised at how big a change you can make to an image by removing large items. With only a few clicks you have a whole new image to display or to use as a background for a new design.
What you learned: To remove objects with Content-Aware fill
- In the Layers panel, select the layer that contains a large object or person you want to remove.
- Use a selection tool to select the object. Make sure to include a little of the background all the way around the object.
- In the menu bar, choose Edit > Fill.
- In the Fill dialog box, choose Content-Aware in the Contents menu and then click OK. Your selection will fill with content that matches the background, hiding the unwanted content from view.
- If you don’t like the result, try applying Content-Aware fill again. You may get a different result with each try.