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One of the tools that you might not ever expect to use when it comes to image cleanup is the Pen tool. The Pen tool is designed for creating vector shapes. Shapes that are comprised of straight lines and smooth curves. And so it might never occur to you that you would use the Pen tool to clean up an image. But in fact doing so can be incredibly helpful in a variety of situations. For example a power line running across an image represents a particular challenge. And the Pen tool can be a great help in that type of image cleanup and I have a very similar situation here with this image.
You might notice that there is a string running across the scene here. This obviously is a bit of a construction site and they were using a string to identify the line that they wanted to follow for the cobbles. But I find it to be a little bit distracting, and so I'd like to remove that string from the image. I could use the Spot Healing Brush tool to paint along that string. But trying to follow the string accurately can be a little bit of a challenge. But the Pen tool makes it remarkably easy. I'll go ahead and choose the Pen tool from the toolbox, and then I'll click just outside of the image on the left side here, in line with the string itself.
And that will place an anchor point. I can then go to the oppositve side of the image. Now if this were a more complex shape I could click at intermediate points along the way. But I also want to demonstrate the basic behavior of the Pen tool. If you simply click the mouse again, you'll connect the two anchor points by a straight line. But if a line you're trying to follow is curved, then you'll need to click again and drag. So I'll go ahead and click the mouse. You can see the straight line is already connected. But I'm holding the mouse button down. So now if I drag drag outward, I'll adjust the focal point and direction for the curve itself.
So dragging upward, for example, will cause the curve to bend downward. And dragging downward will case the curve to bend upward in this case. And the distance away from the anchor point that I drag will determines the distance from the anchor point, where the nodal point of that curve will be. So I can continue using the Pen tool in this way. I'll go ahead and fine tune the shape of my curve here. That looks to be pretty accurate. Following carefully along the shape of the string. So not much of a curve in this case. Just a very slight curve. But obviously we could use the Pen tool for far more sophisticated shapes if need be.
Now we want to trace along this path that I've created with the Pen tool using the Spot Healing Brush tool. So that I can clean up that portion of the image automatically. I'll go ahead and add a new layer by clicking the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. And then I'll double-click on the name so that I can rename this layer to something more meaningful. I'll just call it cleanup and press Enter or Return and then I'll click on the Spot Healing Brush tool button on the toolbox. And make sure that all of my settings are as I want them on the options bar.
I can then move my mouse out into the image and use the left and right Square Bracket keys. In order to adjust the size of that brush. In fact, I'll go ahead and zoom in a bit on that string. So that I can get a better sense of the best size for the brush for the Spot Healing Brush tool. Just a little bit bigger than the string should produce great results. So that looks good. I'll go ahead and zoom out again. And now, I want to paint with the Spot Healing Brush tool on that path, but I'd like to do it automatically. So, I'll go to the Window menu, and I will choose Paths from that menu to bring up the Paths panel. And here, you can see the work path that I've created. I can then click the second button at the bottom of the Paths panel. It's a solid circle that's not filled in, so it has a solid outline. But the inside is not filled in and that is the Stroke Path tool. It will cause the current tool, in this case, my Spot Healing Brush, to be painted along the path defined by this work path. I'll go ahead and click that button.
You'll notice that initially we get a dark line indicating that Photoshop has painted over that area with the Spot Healing Brush tool. At this point we shouldn't need the path anymore. I'll go ahead and delete it so that we can see the strign a little bit better, or hopefully the lack of string. I'll click Yes to confirm that I want to delete the path. and I'll close the paths panel I'll go ahead and turn of the visibility of my clean up layer and then turn it back on again. And you can see that that string is disappearing. Let's take a closer look though and examine the quality of the results.
I'll go ahead and zoom in on the image and I'll toggle the visibility of the clean up layer off and on. And you can see we have a string and then we have the string disappearing. You can always go back on that clean-up layer and perform a little bit of touch-up work. If there are areas that didn't seem to get corrected quite as well as you would have liked. But the point is that we're able to make quick work of a situation. Where we have a line or a curve going through the image that represents a blemish that we need to clean up.
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