Jun 12, 2014

How to Remove Anything from a Photo in Photoshop

The Importance of Removing Objects

We have all taken photos that were close to perfect except for some object in the background. If given the chance it is always better to remove that object in person, it will take much less time than doing it in Photoshop and will look more natural. Sometimes however that is not an option, either you didn’t see it or were not able to move it.

That is where Photoshop comes in. In this episode we show you how to remove anything from a photo in photoshop.

Selections Are the Key to Removing Objects

Often times the objects you want to remove are behind other objects. In this episode we remove a trashcan and a street sign, both of which are behind a lamp post and a stone seat. In order to remove the objects from the background we have to make a selection that keeps the lamp post and stone seat from being affected.

To make this selection we use the Pen Tool. It is one of the more complicated tools to use in Photoshop but it is well worth learning because of how powerful it is.

If you want to learn more about compositing and using the Pen Tool be sure to check out our
PRO Tutorial – The Beginners Guide to Compositing

Your Friend, the Clone Stamp Tool

After your selection is made it is time to use any tools available to build the background. If you are lucky there will be plenty of area to sample from that looks like the area you need to cover.

Start out using the Clone Stamp Tool, it will duplicate a sampled area and can do most of the job for you providing you have an area to sample.

Sometimes you will have to remove and object and that means creating something “behind” that object from scratch. This is where the brush tool comes in.

When All Else Fails, Use the Brush Tool

The brush tool is incredibly powerful and shouldn’t be overlooked when creating a new background. it may not have as much detail as the Clone Stamp Tool but you are not limited to sampling areas.

With the brush tool you can “paint” anything you can think of, including the background over top of an object you want to remove. This may sound really hard but using color samples from the surrounding image and a little creativity you would be amazed at what you can do.

In this example we completely remove a trash can from the image and paint the building and the sidewalk in behind it.


user image You
(will not be published)

  • user image
    Michael Haddad

    Great tutorial. But she doesn’t look like she’s really there. There’s no shadow behind her legs even though there is light coming on them. Plus, her skin tones are very red, while the image have a soft blue tint.

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        Ian Braisby

        I’d say she is already in the shadow of whatever it is she is sat on, so she does not have a shadow visible but I would say she has had a selection done on her to increase the exposure either in LR or PS

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    Natasha Heredia

    P.S. what happened to the outtakes?? Even at the end of the PRO tutorials it feels weird there’s no laughing Aaron to conclude things. 🙂

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      Jose Alvarado

      I agree with this guy. Can you teach us how to edit like this?

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        the first thing you would need is to shoot in that amazing natural light

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    Keegan Evans

    WIZARD! I think magic has been used here. Awesome tutorial Phlearn team!

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    Gábor Oravecz

    Hi Aaron, that was a really nice tutorial! What would you do with this picture? I want to remove the wire fence but manually clone stamping out is really a nightmare. I’ ve already made my way through half of it but it’ s hard to make it look natural on the ground. It’ s way more easier on more or less solid surfaces (like on the garage doors.) I’ ve tried channel based and color based selections with no success. I know the white walls and garage doors are a bit messy because my plan was to smooth those out with the patch tool after merging the layers. So here are the “original” and half processed pictures. (I have bracketed for the darker sky and for the “light painting” . I can see the sky is a bit weird on the left side because the radial blur dragged some transparent pictures too but my main concern is the fence.)

    I think this picture is fitting the “remove anything” topic, please give it a shot!


    (from Hungary)

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    Hey Aaron my name is Akshay, please check this photo out which I edited.
    I’m uploading both the photos, ‘before’ and ‘after’.
    Thanks… 🙂 🙂

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    and this one is the ‘after’.. Sorry I tried to upload both images in previous comment but it didn’t allow me to attach two images in a single comment…

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    Terri Cataldo

    I am using Photoshop Elements 12 – have tried & tried to remove my brother’s EX from this photo and can’t seem to get it right. Can you tell me how to do it so it doesn’t look like I “axed” her out

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    Do you have a tutorial for the reverse? Say trying to photoshop a subject into a photo realistically? I’m trying to photoshop a bottle onto a table as the subject.

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    I have been trying to remove the houses form this picture and I cant figure it out. Could I get any help or suggestions?

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    Susan From Vermont

    You do a great job of explaining the process! (Enjoyed your CreativeLive segments, too.)
    There is one thing I cannot figure out from watching – when using the brush or clone stamp, how do you switch back and forth between sampling and painting? Hopefully I can figure it out fooling around with it. Just downloaded the 30-day free trial, have been using LR, and so much of PS CC is totally foreign to me.


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      Hitting the the Alt/option key will bring the eyedropper tool for you to sample a new color while the brush tool (or others) are active! 🙂 Cheers!

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    Please make a video on how your video is made. How did you get your video super imposed on the Photoshop tutorial? What program did you use to make the video? I would love to see a video of you explaining that. 🙂

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    Hi..I am wondering which photoshop program you use and if all of them have the options to clone etc. I am wanting to make a split image of a wolf face/a human face for a project as well. Any suggestions on the best program at a reasonable price? I LOVE taking photos and I am pretty decent at editing with a few free sites that I use.

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    Wondering which photoshop program you use and if all programs have the option to clone/Remove things and people as well as the option to split an image. Im working on a project and want to take an image of a wolf and a friend of mine’s face and make it half and half. I am decent at editing, I only have a couple of free sites I use right now and am looking into purchasing photoshop.
    These are a few images I’ve done.

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    Frank Z

    Great vid , I sometimes if i know i have or want to remove something i would take some frames of what the background is and sample from their for when realism is necessary. I would love a vid on removing staining on buildings to make them look like new or clean. Its a frequent client request in the upload it is on the top row of panels near roof and i have to remove the handicap signs which you already showed us thanks