How to Remove People and Objects from a Photo Background in Photoshop

Posted by John Shaver on Jul 25, 2014 in
How to Remove People and Objects from a Photo Background in Photoshop

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You and your family had a nice day at the beach, but wouldn't you know it, there's a bunch of random people in the background ruining your favorite photo.

This tutorial will teach you four different ways you can remove people and objects from the background of any photo. It's not meant to get rid of those close-up photo bombers out there, but it does the trick for anyone that snuck into your shot accidentally.

Method 1: Spot Healing Brush Tool

With the advent of Content-Aware editing, the spot healing brush tool lets you remove objects with a single click.

Open your image and select the Spot Healing Brush tool (J). Make sure Content-Aware is selected in the tool options up top.

Resize your brush using the [ and ] keys until it's about the same size as the object you want to remove.

Click, or click and drag on the object you want to remove. That's it!

Method 2: Patch Tool

The Patch tool lets you replace specific items in your image with content sampled directly from another area. It works well to remove large items, or groups of items from photos.

Open your image and select the Patch tool (J).

Draw a selection around the items you want to replace. Click and drag your selection to another area in your image to replace the original content.

Like the Spot Healing Brush tool, the Patch tool uses Photoshop's Content-Aware technology to automatically remove any unwanted objects.

Method 3: Content-Aware Fill

You can use the Content-Aware functionality in a few different places within Photoshop. This method lets you make one or multiple selections and replace them all at once.

Open your image in Photoshop and select the Lasso tool (L).

Make a selection around the items you want to replace, then right click your canvas and select Fill.

In the Fill dialog, select Content-Aware under the Contents fieldset and hit OK.

You don't have to use the Lasso tool either. You can make a selection using any selection tool within Photoshop.

Method 4: Clone Stamp Tool

The automatic tools in Photoshop usually do a great job, but for more complex images, you'll have to use the manual method.

Open your image in Photoshop and select the Clone Stamp Tool (S).

ALT + Click on an area within your image that you want to sample from. It should be clear of any unwanted objects.

Move your cursor, then click and paint on the unwanted objects to remove them.

You are painting in one area using image data from the area that you sampled from. It can be a bit tricky if you've never done it before, so watch the video version of this tutorial if you want to see it in action.

These four removal methods should cover 99% of your usage needs. Smaller objects are much easier to remove than larger ones, and it's always best to try and avoid any unwanted items in the background as you take your photos.

Have you used the above methods to clean up a busy photo? Show us your work in the comments.

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