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- The ethics of cleanup
- Reviewing the image
- Nondestructive cleanup
- Cleanup tools and techniques
- Removing strong color casts
- Gradient adjustments
- Extending the frame
- Using multiple exposures to remove subjects from an image
Skill Level Beginner
With some images, you may find a situation where none of the image clean up tools in Photoshop are actually going to provide you with an adequate result. In those cases, you can take matters into your own hands to create what I call a manual patching for your image. Here, for example, I have a window that is boarded up and we're going to assume that like to clean up that boarded window, to make it to look like the window was never broken to begin with. In theory, we might use content to where Fill, for example, I will go ahead and create a rectangular selection of this window.
And with that area of the image selected, I'll go ahead and choose Edit> Fill. I'll make sure that the Use popup in the Fill dialog is set to Content Aware. And I'll click OK. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+D on Windows or Cmd+D on Macintosh. And you can see that the Content Aware Fill has actually done a surprisingly good job it really has replaced that window pane. The problem is, if we zoom in a little more closely, you can see that the window frame itself is obviously far from accurate, compared to what it should look like.
And so, this is a situation were I need to apply a little bit more manual control to the cleanup work. I'll go ahead and choose Edit > Step Backward and then Edit > Step Backward again, in order to get back to the original image. And I'm going to start from scratch. Even though I have a selection that would be helpful at the moment, I'm going to start over. So, I'll go ahead and deselect that selection. And then, I'm going to select a window that represents what I think is a good replacement for my damaged window. So, something like this. And the key is to select more than I actually need.
I want to be able to have a little bit of a buffer area around the repair that I'm applying, so that I can blend it in to that destination area. So, I've created a selection of an area that represents a good source of corrective pixels, a good way to fix this blemish. I'll, then, go ahead and duplicate these pixels from my Background Image layer to a new layer. To accomplish that, I can choose Layer > New > Layer Via Copy. I could also press Ctrl+J on Windows or Cmd+J on Macintosh to perform the same task.
When I choose that command, I'll have a new layer. And I'm going to rename that layer right a way. I'll call this Window Fix, since I'm fixing a window in the image. And that layer now contains a duplicate window. I'll go ahead and turn off the Background Image layer. And you can see here's a duplicate window based on the selection that I've created. Now, I can choose the Move tool and I can click and drag in the image. In order to move those copied pixels, that window fix layer, into a more appropriate position. I'll go ahead and reduce the opacity of this layer, so that I can get a better sense of when I have everything lined up just right. That looks to be pretty good.
I might nudge it over with the Arrow keys just a little bit to get it lined up as close to perfect as possible. I'll, then, bring that opacity back up. Now, you can see that this has already produced a pretty good fix. But I do have some areas that don't quite match up. And so, I want to blend those into the surrounding image. To do that, I'm going to add a Layer mask to my Window Fix layer. So, at the bottom of the Layers panel, I'll click on the Add Layer Mask button, the circle inside of a square icon. And that will add a layer mask to this Image layer. At the moment, the layer mask is filled with white, which means that all of the pixels on this layer are revealed.
But if I want to block pixels I can simply paint with black onto this layer. I'll go ahead and choose the Brush tool from the toolbox, and I'm going to use a small brush, but with a soft edge. I'll go ahead and drag that hardness slider down to 0%, so that I have a soft edge brush to work with. And then, I'll move into the image and adjust the size of that brush as needed. The left square bracket key will reduce the size of the brush and the right square bracket key will increase the size of the brush. I'll then press the letter D on the keyboard to get my default colors. And since I'm working on a layer mask, those defaults are white for the foreground, and black for the background. I want to paint with black in order to block pixels from this window fix layer. And so, I'll press the letter X on the keyboard in order to switch the foreground and background colors, so that black is my foreground color. I'll go ahead and zoom in a little bit more closely on the window here. And then, I can simply paint along the edge of that fix in order to block portions of this layer, revealing the layer down below. In other words, allowing some of that original window frame, in this case, to show through, so that it blends in a little bit better. Now, I need to make sure not to paint too far into the image. If I do, I can press X to switch to white as my foreground color in order to reveal portions of the layer that I created as my Window Fix Layer. I see there's a little bit of the color of that wood showing through. So, I'll paint up along that right edge in order to clean that up. And I can continue in this way painting to blend these two layers together, so that I have a more realistic fix on blending the fix into the original image, so that things look much more realistic.
And I think now, I have a pretty good effect. I'll go ahead and turn off the window fix layer. You can see the original plywood placed in that broken window frame. And then I'll turn that layer back on. And you see, at this point, I have what looks to be a great fix. So, even when the Image Cleanup tools in Photoshop don't quite give you the result you're looking for, very often you can simply manually correct an area by copying pixels from one area of an image into another area. And then, using the layer mask to help you blend those areas seamlessly.