Each day in my business of restoring old photographs at www.BestPhotoRepair.com , I encounter all kinds of photo manipulation requests, from simple digital retouching to more complex restoration work. But my favorite type of request is object removal.
I guess I enjoy it, because I really get to use my imagination. When you remove an object, especially an object in the foreground of a photograph, you must replace it with something, otherwise you are left with an unsightly blank space.
And that's where real imagination and creativity come in, because it is usually left up to the restoration artist to determine "what's missing", once an object as been removed from an image.
Although there are a lot of different ways to remove an object from an image, I decided to focus on the "Patch Aware Fill" method.
Below you will find a quick step by step guide on how to best fill that blank space, leaving a flawless image behind.
Open an image with an object you need to remove, like this sign posts in the image above.
If you're working with a single-layered document, duplicate it by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J).
If you have multiple layers, activate the topmost layer and create a copy of all visible layers by pressing Shift-Alt-Ctrl-E (on a PC). Double-click the duplicated layer's name and rename it.
Select the Patch tool. Once you've selected the patch tool, make sure you selected "source" from the menu at the top.
Click-and-drag to "paint" a selection onto the object you wish to remove from the image.
Once you have the object selected, move the selection over an area in the image that looks very similar to the area from which you are removing the object.
(For example, if you are removing an object from in front of a bush, select a similar looking area of the bush to fill in the space over the object you are removing.)
The patch tool will give you an idea of what you are capturing in the selection.
Once you find an area of the image you want to "paste" over the object, drop the selection. I say drop, because I use a Wacom table and pen, so all I need to do is release the selection over the new area and the patch tool will take that area and blend it into the area you are filling, or in this case, it will blend it over the object you are removing.
Obviously this method does not work on every image nor every object, but it's a great place to get started.
Hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial.