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With the launch of Photoshop CS6, I have become a huge fan of the Patch tool. The Patch tool has been with us for a little while, but I never really made much use of it for two key reasons. One, it didn't allow me to work on a separate image layer, an empty image layer, so I would have to create a background copy which doubles the base file size for an image. Second, I couldn't take advantage of the Content Aware feature for the Patch tool. Well, that's all changed now with Photoshop CS6 and I'm very excited about it.
It makes easy work of image clean-up for situations where a selection is the best way to identify which area of an image needs to be cleaned up. Let's take a look at an example. I'll go ahead and choose the Patch tool from the toolbox. It's found underneath the Spot Healing Brush tool. So, I'll first click and hold the mouse on the button for the Spot Healing Brush tool. And then, I'll choose the Patch tool, from the flyout menu. I can then create a selection of the object I want to get rid of. I'll go ahead and draw a selection around this corner of a building that's sticking into the frame. And with that selection created, I'm ready to replace those pixels with something else.
But first I'm going to create a new layer to apply that correction to. So down at the bottom of the Layers panel, I'll click the Create New Layer, button, the blank sheet of paper icon. And then, I'll double-click on the name for that layer to give it a new name. I'll just type clean up and press Enter or Return on the keyboard. I can then take a look at the settings on the options bar. I want the Patch option to be set to Content Aware. We still have the normal option. That's sort of the old behavior of the Patch tool, you might say. But for me, I always use the Content Aware option.
It's a very, very powerful adjustment tool for cleaning up images. I can also adjust the adaptation. And that's between very strict and very loose, with several options in between. The idea is we can either retain the overall shape and texture of the area we're using as source pixels for our clean-up, or we can be loose. In other words allow Photoshop to manipulate that area significantly in order to better blend in to the surroundings. In most cases, I use the Very Loose option. But if I'm replacing an area where there's a significant amount of texture, then I might need to use one of the other options.
I'll illustrate the differences there in just a moment. But first let's just apply a basic clean-up using the Very Loose option. I'll also make sure that the Sample All Layers checkbox is turned on, so that I'm able to work between these two layers. Otherwise, I would be simply cleaning up the empty pixels on the cleanup layer. So, with Sample All Layers turned on, I can sample pixels from the background layer for example. But place them onto a currently active layer, my clean-up layer. With those options established, I'm ready to apply the clean-up. And just as in previous versions, that's simply a matter of dragging my selection to an area that represent a good source of pixels to clean up my blemish.
So, I'll point my mouse inside the selection. And then, click and drag out to a different area of the image. In this case, a portion of the open sky. And then, I will release the mouse and Photoshop will process that area, cleaning it up based on the pixels I identified as a good source. I'll then choose Select > Deselect from the menu to get rid of that selection. And you can see, the clean-up has been done amazingly well. I also want to illustrate the Adaptation option. I'll go ahead and create a selection out into the sky.
I'm going to place the top of the steeple into that position with the various options set. I'll go ahead and choose Very Strict to start with. And then I'll drag my selection over the steeple. When I release the mouse, you'll see that Photoshop processes that area. And it tries its best to keep the exact object but to blend it into the surroundings. I'll go ahead and undo that last step, and then, set the adaptation to medium and repeat that task. And you'll see that now, once Photoshop finishes blending, we still have a fair amount of the building structure but a little bit more blending. I'll undo the step once again and use Very Loose. And now, drag one more time to that area of the image. And this time, you see we get a bit more adaptation of that source area. Now, of course, your results will vary based on the specific area that you're trying to clean up.
In most cases, I start with a relatively loose adaptation, somewhere between medium and very loose. But if that's not producing a good result, you can always undo and choose one of the more strict options. I'll go ahead and undo that bad clean-up and deselect my selection, so that we can see the original clean-up that we applied. And I think you can appreciate that the new changes for the Patch tool in Photoshop CS6 really make it a very valuable image clean-up tool. Again, for any situation, where a selection is a good way to identify an area that you need to clean up.
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