Saturday, April 16, 2011

How to remove an object from a scene and create background content to fill the hole using PSE9?

Is there a tool in PSE which can help you remove an object or a person from foreground of an image by filling it with the background content?

Yes, there is one which was introduced in PSE 9. So here are my initial and final images to show what this tutorial will help you achieve through this tutorial:

     Initial image

Final image

So in my source image above, I wanted to remove the girl from the temple and have just the building.

It may be achievable with clone tool, however it would really be a big time task.

For non-complex images, it may just take seconds to fix that photo using content aware spot healing by doing just a couple of dabs
However, I choose an image which is complex as we need to remove a person whose background is not consistent throughout. It has the dark area inside the gate, the gate boundaries, the sculptured wall, the ground with variations in textures and colors. And spot healing from previous versions of PSE might not work since it does not have that intelligence to create content from background and fill it with it.

1. Open the image in Editor.
2. Select Spot healing tool from the left tool bar. 

The spot healing brush properties in top properties bar

3. Now keeping "Content-Aware" option selected in Properties panel, a keeping brugh size of the area not very big(which can be incremented and decremented using ],[ keys), start brushing(dabbing) over the object you want to remove.

So here are some tips which I have learnt on using this tool again and again :

1. In the image above, for areas marked in red, I could use a bigger brush size without worrying much as the background behind the red mark is not very complex and is consistent, and I am not worried much as there are change in colors, no linear planes changing etc. So I can do this part quickly.

2. The areas marked in yellow are bit complicated as they have carvings on the wall. So would be good to start dabbing the brush with small size from the area near to the yellow area boundary in a linear manner. So if you see the carvings on the wall, they are horizontally linear. So it would be good if I start from the left near the boundary of the yellow area towards right horizonally.

3. The areas marked in blue(In L shape) is the area which should be taken care alittle meticulously since it has the frame of the door which has straight lines which need to be content created. So for this I reduced the brush size so that it did not cover the breadth of the frame and started from left such that the brush area includes the area of the existing frame(white frame area). However, this decision making may vary from image to image which would come to you as you try this tool a few times. For non-complex images, it may just take seconds to fix that photo using content aware spot healing and you may not have to do any such decision making. But for complex images, you might need a little thinking to get the best results.

4. For the area in purple, I used clone tool as it was quicker for that scenario. Spot healing content aware brushcould also have been used.

Here is my final result :

Hope this tutorial helps!!!


  1. Just got back from Israel with a fabulous group photo on Temple Mount...except for the flagpole!
    What flagpole?!!
    Thanks so much

  2. Thank you - I just used this technique for the first time!

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  4. I've long recommended that people seeking to have a very good understanding of this specific topic spread their research across several blogs so as not to deal with wrong information. You have provided so many areas for people like me to start with. But this can be puzzling for some. Let's take into account the only real enemy here's not being focused. This will happen to some. So my advice is: Stay focused. Thank you

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  5. I have Photoshop Elements 10 and am just learning how to remove objects - did a google search and came across this blog post. When I look at my tools - I don't have the Spot Healing Brush option only the Healing Brush. Any insight? I did reset my tools and it did not appear. Thinking I may have to reinstall but thought I would ask here in case you knew of another way to find this tool!

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