Photo By: Elin Chow
We do not always have the best opportunity to capture the most prefect photographs on our camera. I believe even the best photographer in the market must admit that it is not always possible to find that perfect angle or ask everyone to move aside for you to take a nice photograph of that location.
I used to think that it is a very complicated process to remove objects from photographs, but thanks to Photoshop, this is not something impossible.
In this tutorial, you will be learning how to remove unwanted objects from your image using the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop. The above is a photo I took during my trip to the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand.
As mentioned in my previous Photoshop tutorial, I am currently using Photoshop CS5, but older versions as far as CS2 will work out as well too.
#1 Create a duplicate copy of your image to work on
Before you start to edit an image, always remember to make a duplicate copy of it. This is to ensure that you still have a copy of the original image if you are not happy with the edited one. To make a duplicate copy, simply open your image in Photoshop and click File > Save As from the top menu. The duplicate copy will be one which you will apply all the adjustments to in Photoshop.
#2 Always work on a duplicate layer of your image
Whenever you open an image in Photoshop, a default layer named as "Background" will automatically be created in the layer palette. Before you start applying any adjustment to the image, always create a duplicate copy of the original and only work on that layer. You can do this either by using the keyboard Ctrl+J or right click on the Background layer and select Duplicate Layer from the menu that appears. Alternatively, you could also choose Layer > Duplicate Layer from the top menu or simply click on the create a new layer icon (the one with two white squares) at the bottom of the layer palette.
The good thing about working on a duplicate layer is that you could easily just discard the entire layer if you are not happy with the result since it will not affect the original layer.
#3 Select Clone Stamp Tool
To remove any unwanted objects from your image, select the Clone Stamp Tool from the tool box or simply by pressing its speed key S on the keyboard. The Clone Stamp Tool is useful for duplicating objects or removing defect from an image by taking an exact copy (clone) from your source area and replacing it unaltered to your destination area.
#4 Using the Clone Stamp Tool To Remove Unwanted Objects
To use the Clone Stamp Tool, hold the Alt key on the keyboard while your mouse pointer changes to a ''target'' symbol. While holding down the Alt key, click on the sampling area which you wish to be cloned and duplicate over the object you want to remove. It is best that you choose
Once you have selected a good sample, release the Alt key and carefully click and drag the mouse over the objects which you wish to remove. If you are doing this correctly, you should notice that the spot where you took sample will follow the movement of your Clone Stamp Tool brush.
#5 Blend Well
For your brush option, I would recommend you to choose a soft-edged brush as it produces a more natural result, though it tends to create a blurry and undefined area where the brush overlaps the surrounding area. Most of the time, I would not recommend choosing a hard-edge brush as it tends to produce a result that is too obvious, showing harsh transition between cloned and unedited areas. However, in the case where you need to create a well-defined area, you might want choose a hard-edged brush instead of a soft-edged one and use it at a lower opacity.
Opacity is the transparency of the color which you are painting onto the image. I would usually set the opacity of my brush to about 90%. You might want to change the opacity of your brush from time to time to create a smooth transition between colors in order to blend everything in that area well together.
Repeat step 4 and 5 until the unwanted objects are completely removed with everything blended well together. You will need to change and take sample from a few sample source before you achieve the prefect image.
The above shows how my image looks like after I finished cloning and blended everything nicely together. You might have notice that the cloned areas looks a little blurry and undefined at this stage.
#6 Sharpen Cloned Areas
To fix the blurry area, select the cloned areas with a Rectangle Masquee Tool . To do this, you could either click on the dotted square icon from tool box or simply by pressing its speed key M on the keyboard. With the Rectangle Masquee Tool selected, drag over the areas you want to select. In this case here, I had selected the areas that has been cloned previously.
Apply an Unsharp Mask Filter to sharpen that particular area. To activate the Unsharp Mask Filter in Photoshop, simply click on Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask from the top menu.
Once you clicked on the Unsharp Mask Filter, a dialog box will automatically pop out on your screen. The dialog comes with three sliders, one for Amount, one for Radius and the other for Threshold.
The Amount slider allows you to adjust the strength of sharpening. Do not set the amount too high if you do not want your image ended up looking grainy or too over-contrasting. I would usually set this to 30%.
The Radius slider allows you to control the width of the sharpening lines. A higher radius means a wider area will be sharpened. However, setting the radius too high will give a weird and harsh outline to the image, thus resulting it to look slightly unnatural. I would usually set the radius as low as 0.5 to 1.5 pixels.
The Threshold slider allows you to determine a balance between the details and noise. When the Threshold slider is set a 0, every pixel will be sharpened. Increasing the slider will decrease the number of pixels to be sharpened. You can set it anywhere between 3 to 20, but avoid going beyond that.
#7 Color Enhancement
The last step of this tutorial is to enhance the color of the image. For this, I had used some of the color enhancing techniques which I had shared in one of my previous Photoshop tutorial post. For that, please read Photoshop Tutorial: How To Enhance Colors In An Image With Photoshop.
Even with Photoshop, removing unwanted objects from an image is never an easy task. It depends a lot on the content of the image, skills and of course, patience. Certainly, it takes a considerable time and practice to master the Clone Stamp Tool before you could achieve the most perfect photo. But once you have mastered it, it can be a very valuable and useful tool for image fixing and editing. With that, I have come to an end of my Photoshop tutorial. I really hope that you like this tutorial and find it useful and if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a comment.