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You can use some of the same tools that you use to retouch a portrait to remove content from a photo. In this movie, I'll show you how I'll use the Spot Healing Brush Tool, the Healing Brush Tool, and the Clone Stamp Tool to try to remove photo content. When I have small areas to remove, I usually reach for the Spot Healing Brush Tool first. I'll select that tool here in the Toolbar. And then I'm going to go over to the Layers Panel, and I'm going to make a new layer on which to try to fix this image. I like to make my corrections on a separate layer than the photo, because as you've heard me say in other movies, I like to work nondestructively.
This gives me more flexibility if I change my mind about a correction. I can erase it from a separate layer, I can reduce the strength of the correction layer, I can even delete the correction layer altogether. So, I am going to make a new layer here by clicking the Create New Layer icon. I'll double-click the default layer name, and I'll call this corrections, and press Enter or Return on the keyboard. What I want the Spot Healing Brush Tool to do is to sample some pixels from the photo on the background layer and lay those sampled pixels down on the corrections layer above, hiding content from the background layer.
So, with the corrections layer selected, I'll go down to the Options Bar for the Spot Healing Brush Tool and I'll tell it to sample good pixels from all layers, so that it will sample from the background layer as well. I'll check Sample All Layers. I'll also make sure that Content Aware is selected in the options because this option usually gives me the best results when I'm trying to hide content. I'm going to zoom in on this image, so we can see these red flags a little bit better by pressing Ctrl and the plus key on the keyboard, that's Command+Plus on the Mac.
Then, I'll scroll down. I'll scroll over a bit, so we can these red flags. I'll move my brush tip over one of the flags and I can see that the brush tip is much bigger than the flag. When I use this tool, I like my brush tip to be just a bit bigger than the area that I'm trying to cover. So, I'll come down to the Options, and I'll drag the Size Slider over to the left. Then, I'll move into the image. I'm going to try to cover this red flag here. So, I'll just click on it. And in a second, it's gone. I'll do the same with this red flag.
And even though this is called the Spot Healing Brush Tool, it can sometimes remove content that isn't just a spot, like this telephone pole. I need to make my brush tip a bit smaller since this pole is so narrow. So, I'll come down to the Size Slider again, and I'll drag slightly over to the left. Then, I'll move back into the image, and click and drag over the pole. Now, that result is a bit blurry. But remember, that we're zoomed in to 200%. So, when we go back out to 100%, I think you'll be pleased with this correction. Now, over here, I want to be sure that I'm covering this red flag with the light pixels from this tree, and not darker pixels from neighboring areas.
So, I'm going to use a different tool, the Healing Brush Tool. I'll come down to the Options Bar, and I'll click on the Healing Brush Tool. Again, I want to sample all the layers, so I'll check Sample All Layers. I'll make my brush tip slightly smaller, and I'll move into the image. The main difference between the Healing Brush Tool and the Spot Healing Brush Tool is that with this Healing Brush Tool, I get to decide the location of the good pixels that I'm going to use to make the correction. So, to sample those good pixels, I'm going to hold the Alt key, that's the Option key on the Mac, and I'm going to click right on this light colored tree.
Then, I'll move my mouse over the red flag that I want to hide, and I can see inside the brush tip those good pixels that I've sampled. I'll click there, and I think that's done a great job of covering up the red flag. Now, let's move up to another part of the image by dragging the scrollbars until we have a good view of the ghosted handlebar here which is caused by moving my iPhone when I took this photo. If I use the Healing Brush Tool or the Spot Healing Brush Tool, Elements is going to try to blend the good pixels that I sample with the photo on the background layer.
I have the feeling that's not going to give me the result I want. To show you that, I'll move into the image, I'll make my brush tip just a little bit bigger, and I'm going to sample some pixels from this white cloud by holding the Alt key, the Option key on the Mac, and clicking there. Now, if I move over this ghosted handlebar and try to remove it by dragging over it, you can see a plus symbol, indicating the location of the good pixels, the Circle, indicating the destination where I'm laying those pixels down on top of the ghosted handlebar, and when I release my mouse, this is the result that I get.
It's typical when you're trying to make a correction along a high contrast edge like this, where there are some dark pixels and some light pixels, to get a kind of a smudged look. This is a result of the Healing Brush Tool trying to blend the correction in with the photo on the layer below. So, I'm going to undo, pressing Ctrl+Z on the PC or Command+Z on the Mac, and I'm going to try the Clone Stamp Tool instead. The Clone Stamp Tool works in a similar way, but it doesn't try to blend the correction in with the underlying pixels. It just lays good pixels down on top of those I'm trying to hide.
I'll go over to the Toolbar, and I'll get the Clone Stamp Tool. I'll go down to its options, and I'll check Sample All Layers again. Now, I see that the default brush is a soft edge brush. I think I'm going to need a harder edge brush because I'm coming right up against this hard edge of the handlebar. So, I'll click the arrow to the right of the Brush Picker in the Options and I'm going to choose one of these harder edge brushes to start with. Maybe I'll go with this one. Then, I'll click outside the Brush Picker to close it. I'll move my cursor over the image. And again, I'm going to choose some good pixels with which to cover the ghosted handlebar.
This time, maybe I'll try these light gray pixels in this cloud. I'll hold down the Alt key, that's the Option key on the Mac,to sample these pixels, and then, I'll move over the ghosted part of the handlebar, and I'll drag. Now, at this point I'm just painting with pixels. Elements isn't trying to do any blending for me, it's just laying down the sampled pixels from under the plus symbol on top of that ghosted handlebar. And I'll release my mouse. I think that's a pretty good start. At this point, I might try sampling from some other areas to try to get the most natural look as I paint with pixels to cover up the areas of this photograph that I don't want.
So, that's how to use the Spot Healing Brush Tool, the Healing Brush Tool, and the Clone Stamp Tool to remove content from a photograph.
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