Photoshop Editing – The 3 Magic Tools You Need to Know
Photoshop Tricks – How to Remove Unwanted Subjects, Clone + Replicate
Editing your photographs in Photoshop is usually about enhancing the image to be the best quality possible. Some creatives take it to another level where images take on the form of graphic artwork however for the moment we are going to stick to the basics and learn about how to remove unwanted subjects and dust spots from your images.
Sometimes on location there’s an incredible shot just waiting to be taken but…there’s a rubbish bin in the middle of it, or one person that just won’t move out of the way despite your less than subtle hints.
Rather than wait for someone to move or physically ripping the bin out of the ground, you can simply take the shot and then remove them later. Much less hassle!
Of course this is more time consuming later but for simply items that have a plain coloured background or in the grand scheme of the image are relatively small, it’s a super easy way to clean your shot up and make it just how you wanted in the first place.
So, without further chatter, I present to you my three magic tools for Photoshop…
The Clone Stamp
This little tool allows you to paint over your image, either using the same colour tones or by taking a section of image and replicating it elsewhere. You’re basically stamping how you imagine perfection all over your image.
If for example you have a lens spot in the sky, you can clone a piece of sky nearby then simply stamp it over the spot to blend it into the image. Alternatively you can extend a tree branch, copy and paste an entire person or remove people from your image all together…the limits are endless!
Once you’ve selected the clone stamp from your toolbar, just below the top menu on Photoshop you’ll find some adjustments to make the clone just right. You can adjust the size and hardness of the stamp, its mode, the opacity and flow.
Adjusting the opacity and flow will tell the tool how much you want to copy across when you use it. Typically with skies or a single colour tone I opt for about 70% to blend it a little better but if you’re looking to extend something like a tree branch or building, you’ll need it up at 100% to ensure all of the detail is replicated. Just keep an eye on the edges as you may have to blend them back down into the image.
The above examples show the clone tool in action as I copy the white wall and brush it over the two pigeons. When using the clone tool you can click a number of times to cement the effect, it also helps to continue to reselect as you click, that way you aren’t simply pasting the same section over and over again as it may start to look like a pattern and hence obvious that it’s been edited.
Bandaid (Spot Healing Brush)
So this is my favourite little tool on Photoshop, I call it the ‘Bandaid’ but officially it’s called the Spot Healing Brush Tool. It’s great for removing unwanted subjects from your image whether that’s a house, lens spot, plant, person, rubbish, absolutely anything! If you’ve got one annoying spot on your lens that is repeated on every image, this is the tool for you to remove it quickly.
It’s basically magic.
By selecting the bandaid tool you can then increase or decrease the size, pop it over the top of the item you wish to remove and then click once. It’s super simple and once you’ve worked it out, will become an essential ingredient to creating beautiful images without any pesky distractions.
For best results just below the top menu bar you’ll see three ‘types’ to choose from, select ‘Content-Aware’. This means that when you click the bandaid, it will make every attempt to blend with the surroundings, it’s actually quite impressive to see just how quickly and effectively it works!
One tip with the bandaid tool is to make it just a tiny bit bigger than the subject you wish to remove. Making it too big will mean more ‘fakeness’ appears, and making it too small will confuse the tool and probably cut off one part of the subject and leave the other part sitting there just looking weird. If you do end up with tiny bits left over, you can repeat the process and simply make the bandaid tool a little smaller to fit and then simply click over those extra bits that weren’t removed in the first stage.
For selecting sections of your image that contain the same colour tone, this tool is genius. The magnet lassos itself around an item and all you have to do is click and point it in the right direction. It’s great for smaller detailed sections, for tracing the outline of a person, for selecting those tiny bits of hair that stick up or for getting a precise selection of a large area.
I like to use this tool if I want to enhance the brightness of a certain part of an image, but nothing around it. If you’ve perhaps underexposed someone’s face and want to avoid the bright ring that happens if you simply increase the brightness, lassoing the subject and brightening just what’s inside will allow for more exact editing possibilities.
The magnetic lasso tool is a great way to select an object you wish to duplicate also. Take the sunflower field below as an example, by using the tool to select a sunflower, you can then copy it and create a fuller field of flowers.
Did you find these editing tips helpful? If you’ve got any questions or want to know more, let me know in the comments below and I’ll answer them for you…