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Getting to know the Cleanup tools in Photoshop is of course a tremendous benefit. But I think, perhaps, more important is understanding some of the contexts in which you'll actually use those tools. In other words, thinking more about the techniques involved, instead of just about the tools that you might use to resolve blemishes in an image for example. In this case, it's pretty obvious what I'd like to do to the image, you might assume these are dust spots on my lens. But I assure you these are birds flying way up in the sky behind this snow goose. And they're obviously quite a bit distracting and so I'd like to remove them.
This is obviously a bit of an exaggerated situation, you wouldn't normally see quite so many obvious spots in an image. But I wanted to use this sort of exaggerated circumstance to illustrate one of the key techniques that is use, which I refer to as basic spotting. It's just cleaning up individual spots in an image, and quite often, even when you've got a lot of work to do, it can be surprisingly easy. I'll start off by adding a new Image layer directly above my Background Image layer. So, I'll click on the Thumbnail for the Background Image layer to make sure it's active.
In this case, it happens to be the only layer for this image so not really critical that I click on it, but a good practice to be in, nevertheless. I'll then click on the Create New Layer button, the blank sheet of paper icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and I'll double-click on the name for the layer so that I can rename it. I'll just call this spotting, since I'm doing some basic spotting work to remove spots from in this case the sky. I'll then choose the Spot Healing Brush tool from the toolbox, and then I'll make sure that the settings are appropriate. I'll use the Content Aware option, so that I can get the most sophisticated cleanup possible.
And I'll also make sure that the Sample All Layers checkbox is turned on, since I'm doing my cleanup work on a separate image layer, an empty image layer, relative to the Background Image layer. Then I can move my mouse out over the image, and I'll use the left and right square bracket keys to adjust the size of the brush. As a general rule, I want my brush to be no larger than the area I'm trying to clean up. And so, I'll use the left square bracket key to reduce the size of the brush or the right square bracket key to increase the size of the brush. I also generally make sure that I'm working with a Hardness of 100% when working with the Spot Healing Brush tool. Now, in this case, each of the blemishes, the birds in the background, are roughly the same size so probably the same size brush will work throughout the image. I can then simply click on each of the areas that I want to cleanup on each of those birds in the background.
In some cases, some of the birds might be just a little bit larger than my brush, and so I might want to drag just a little bit in order to identify that slightly larger area. And as I'm cleaning up, I'll also pay attention to the results, because sometimes, you'll see a little bit of a blooming effect, you'll see a little bit of evidence left behind. In this case, that would look like some sort of dark, smeared areas in the portions of the image that had been cleaned up. You can see that the work is moving along very, very quickly.
I see I've got a couple of areas where there's some evidence of the blemish still left behind, so I'll clean up those areas. And now, I've got a very good result I'd say. There's just one more bird to get rid of and that's along the front of the wing here. We can see one of the birds is overlapping with that edge of the wing and that is certainly a little bit of a tricky situation. For that, there are a couple of things that I'm going to do. I'm going to start off by using a much smaller brush size, I'll work with a smaller brush so that I'm able to work in a smaller area of the image, of course.
I'm then going to try to cleanup a portion of that blemish, of that blurred bird in the background, not getting too close to the wing of the bird. I don't want to get any of that blooming sort of evidence of my work. And I'll try to get as close to the bird as possible without actually coming into contact with the bird. And once I get to the point where I feel I can't really get much closer, then I'm going to zoom in and I'll use an even smaller brush. And now, I'm going to paint perpendicular to the bird's wing. So, I'm going to paint perpendicular to the line here, as I paint across that dark blemish and into the wing of the bird.
Now sometimes, that's going to work out remarkably well, as you can see here. And other times, the blending is not going to be quite perfect. But I can continue painting over these areas just a little bit in an effort to try to produce the best clean up possible. Once I have most of that blemish cleaned up, I'll go ahead and clean up a couple of additional areas here. Sometimes, I'll also reduce the brush size further and then paint along that blemish area that I have cleaned up to see if that helps to straighten out that line, so to speak. Here, I need to be very, very careful because of the front of the bird.
The wing obviously has a fairly smooth curve to it. And so, that particular brush stroke is actually causing a little bit of a problem. So, I'll choose Edit and then Step Backward, and Edit > Step Backward one more time to leave that change as it is. I can continue, however, painting in additional areas perpendicular to the line of the wing in order to try to clean up that area as best I can. That's looking to be pretty good. I'll go ahead and zoom out here, so we can get a sense of the overall effect of this basic spotting. I'm going to turn off the Background Image layer, so you can see just how much work we've done on this spotting layer.
I'll turn that layer back on, and then, I'll also go turn off the visibility of the spotting layer. And now we can see lots of birds up in the sky, behind our snow goose, and they can all magically disappear. In this case, with one click of the mouse. Of course, a little more work goes into getting rid of them in the first place. But then, we can hide and reveal them in order to get a better sense of the work we've accomplished. So, not very difficult just a very basic process of working on a separate layer, using the Spot Healing Brush tool with the Content Aware Option and the Sample All Layers setting turned on.
And then, for the most part, just clicking or maybe slightly clicking and dragging in order to clean up the blemishes in the image. So, that basic spotting can truly be very, very quick and easy for a variety of Cleanup tasks.
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