Advanced Content Aware and Clone Techniques in Photoshop

Lesson 3/4 - Remove Distractions & Simplify Backgrounds


Advanced Content Aware and Clone Techniques in Photoshop


Lesson Info

Remove Distractions & Simplify Backgrounds

We got a bunch of really cool images here for reducing and simplifying our background. All right, so we are going to remove all of the people from this image. And it's not gonna take a long time at all. We're gonna wind up with a really beautiful image of a beach, and it's ... You guys are gonna see. It's using really incredibly simple techniques. And we're gonna show you how to add back some of the sand texture so it actually looks like there's clear, blank sand where these people were in the image. Okay. So the first thing we're gonna do here is, I wanna make an accurate selection around my subject, because we're gonna be using big brush tools to get rid of all these people. So I wanna make an accurate selection around my subject, around this area here. There we go, just like that. And once I have that selection, then I'm able to use big, broad tools. Now, the reason I wanna use large tools is because the sand that's underneath these people, we do have changes in color. You can see, ...

it's light there, and then it gets darker, and then lighter, and then darker. But these are relatively large, right? I wouldn't use a brush tool that's this big to try to paint in sand behind her. We wanna use large brushes that are able to make these large, sweeping shapes. So if you are gonna use a large brush, it's gonna get everywhere. So you wanna make sure you create a layer mask to restrict it to one certain area. Does that make sense? Okay, cool. So we're gonna start this off by basically making a selection around this side of the image. It's really easy. How many people have used the Pen tool before? One, okay, cool. Pen tool is awesome. It's a really great way to make selections in Photoshop. All right. Basically, as I zoom in, I'm gonna make a selection that comes right around her shoulder and down and around the pole. So basically how the Pen tool works, we'll just give you a quick little demo here. How the Pen tool works is, basically you click and drag in the direction that you want your pen path to go. So that's the direction it's gonna go. If I click and drag in this direction, you can see it created a curve between those two points. Now this is kinda the leading direction for the next point. So it's kinda leading out there. If I click in this direction, you can see that it pulls it in that direction. So if I wanted to trace around something, basically I would just click and drag around that thing to trace it. Now, the Pen tool is really great, because it allows you to move any of these points at any time. This is a constantly editable tool. And it's used for making advanced selections. So, let's say I wanted to move one of these points. Well, I can just hold down the Control or the Command key, and I can click on any one of these points at any time. I can also click here on the curve itself and alter the curve after I've made it. Not only that, but the Pen tool will always make continuous curves for me. So you can see, no matter what I do to it, it's going to make continuous curves. So I can click there, I can bring that point in and out, I can change this. I can even add or remove curves. Sorry, I can add or remove points. If I just hover over this point and don't hold down Control or Command, it brings up a little minus sign next to my Pen tool. I can click there, and it removes that point. If I wanna add a point anywhere along the lines, I just click right there on my curve and hold down Command, and I can change that. Now, making it into a selection is also really easy. Just right-click and go down to Make Selection. And hit "OK," and then it's turned into a selection. So, it's a very, very powerful tool used to make selections in Photoshop. All right, so let's make a quick selection around her arm. So we're gonna start up here. We're gonna kinda lead into her arm there. We're gonna grab this and pull down in that direction. You can see, this curve is just following the outline of her arm. All right? Click here and lead out in that direction. There we go. And we're gonna pull in in that direction. Now, if you do ever wanna create a sharp point with your pen tool, just hold Alt or Option, and you can grab that point and move it out in the direction you want to travel in, which is gonna be out in this way. And we're just gonna click one time over here to the edge of the railing. All right? And then I'm just gonna create some points up there. And that's all we have to do. Now I'm gonna have a very nice selection around her arm. Cool, so we're gonna right-click in here, go to Make Selection, give it a little bit of feathering. That's just gonna help it look a lot more realistic. Sometimes when you have edges that are too sharp, they look like they were done in Photoshop. So if you give em a little bit of feathering, it makes it look like it was done in-camera. It's like it'll match the resolution. All right, and hit "OK." Cool, does anyone have questions up until this point? Basically you just made a selection right in that area, right? Okay, cool. Now earlier, we talked about the Brush tool, and by the end of today's class, you guys will know, I'm a huge fan of the Brush tool, 'cause it's awesome. You can do so much with the Brush tool. So I'm gonna remove all those people in 10 seconds using the Brush tool, because I have a really nice selection here. So we're gonna hit B for the Brush tool. I'm gonna hold Alt or Option and sample the color, and then I'm just gonna start painting over all those people with the Brush tool. Now, by default, it doesn't look super realistic, 'cause we just have one color. But as I start sampling other colors in here and start to bring in some of my other colors, we're gonna get a lot more variation there. I can start sampling colors in from the ocean back there, super quick and easy. All right, some darker colors here, kinda where they mix. There we go. And some lighter colors down there. Now, this works really well if your background is really out of focus, right? This is not gonna work if the background was totally in focus. So keep that in mind. It definitely has its own applications. It's not gonna work perfectly everywhere for every single image. But where you can, you can really easily clear out an area. All right, so that looks good now. We're not totally done yet, guys. Oh, I did that on my background layer. By the way, never do that on your background layer. I don't know what I was thinking. (Instructor laughs) All right. So we're gonna go ahead and I'm gonna go to Select. And then I'm gonna go down to where we have Save Selection. All right? All right, we're gonna save this as a selection, and then I'm gonna go in my Window and then down into my History. There we go. And we have our original image. All right. Now we'll create a new layer, we'll go to Select, and I'll go to Load Selection. There we go. Select, Load Selection, and ... Oh, I've brought it back to my original one. Dang. Do I have to recreate that? I may have to recreate that entire selection. No big deal. I'll do it fast this time. All right. Point of learning: never create ... (laughs) Never paint on your background layer, especially if you wanna show people the before and after, 'cause then they can't see what you did. (Man) And it wasn't in the history? Well, when I brought my history back down to the original state, it also got rid of my selection. (Man) Gotcha. Yeah, which is a little bit unfortunate. But you can see, that took me two seconds to make that selection again, so not a big deal. Just make sure you guys are on a new layer. That's gonna help out tremendously. All right, so we use our Brush tool, sample with our big ole Brush tool there, paint over the people again, grab some colors from the ocean, paint over that. Now I know this texture on the beach doesn't look perfect yet, guys. We're gonna show you how to add some texture after the fact. So it's gonna look a lot more like sand texture by the time we're done with it. For now, it's ... Mostly I'm just taking care of the color and things like that, and then we'll get some light and color variation, some ... Bring in some darks and stuff over there. All right. Cool. All right, so we're gonna do the same thing with the right side now. So let's create a new layer. Bring this in again. We're gonna bring this right down here. And I'm actually gonna cut out her hair using the same exact tool. Doesn't take long at all. Bring this right down there. (Man) When you made a selection, did you feather it? (Instructor) Yeah, I feathered it by 0.3 pixels. (Man) How do you know how much to feather? That's a really good question. Okay, sometimes if you're not sure how much to feather, I would ... I'll give you a really cool visual trick right now. So if you're not sure how much you should feather, right-click and go to Make a Selection. And let's say we don't feather this, okay? So we're gonna hit zero pixels. So right now, it's not feathered at all. Now, it can be really tough to tell how much feathering you need, because it's not a visual thing. It's like, pixels doesn't translate visually. So, there's a really cool trick you can do using a quick mask. So if you hit Q for the quick mask on your image, basically what that does is it turns an active selection into what's called a quick mask, which is just a visual indicator of what's selected. So anything that you can see through is selected. Anything you can't see through, anything that's that red color, that becomes your quick mask. All right, so you guys got the idea of a quick mask? Selection, hit Q, it turns your selection into a quick mask that looks like that. Now, I can hit Q, and it goes back and forth. So it goes back from selection, to quick mask, to selection, to quick mask. Now, you can't blur a selection. You don't have that option. But you can blur a quick mask. So if I turn this into a quick mask, and then I do a Gaussian blur on my quick mask ... So we can see, there's the ... Let's just zoom in. All right, so there's the before and the after. Maybe you'll wanna even bring this up a little more. By about two pixels, I'm just blurring the edge there. Can you guys see that? Little bit of blur on there? No? (Instructor laughs) Lemme zoom in a little bit more, there we go, okay. So there's the before and the after, cool. So it's just blurring the edge of that a little bit, which makes it look ... This does not look realistic, right? But that starts to look a little bit more like part of a photo. All right, so we're gonna hit "OK." And now, since I was able to blur the quick mask, if I just hit Q again, it goes back as a selection. So now I have a selection that does have a feathered edge, and I can see exactly how feathered it is based on the blur of my quick mask. I know it's kinda like five things that you've probably never seen before in Photoshop, but basically, it takes a selection and makes it visual so you can blur it to tell exactly how feathered an edge you need, and then you just pop it back into a selection. (Man) Cool, thank you. Yeah, for sure. All right, cool. So now, what we're gonna do is, I'm gonna grab my brush tool, and we're gonna select out some of these areas. Again, I'm just sampling these colors here and painting them over. All right. And because I have a selection, I don't have to be careful about where I'm painting at all. I can just paint kinda everywhere. There we go. All right. And we can see that because we have a selection all the way up into her dress, it totally works. So we're gonna do this on the bottom here, as well. Click and just drag in that direction. See, could you guys see there where it wasn't actually perfect where I had this point? It was a little bit below the railing. So with the Pen tool, you can move these points at any time. So if I just hold down Control or Command and click and drag to that, I can move it 'til it matches perfectly with the railing. Then I can make this into a selection. And I'm gonna put this about two pixels, because that's what we chose on our Gaussian blur there earlier. All right, cool. That looks good, we're gonna deselect there. All right, and now we're gonna go back in with our pen tool and select out this area. All right. And go back to our original, and then I can hold down Control or Command and move just this point until it's perfect. All right. Then we're gonna right-click in here. We'll move this one up as well, too. Go to Make Selection, hit "OK," and then use our brush tool. All right, and sample some of that color there. All right, guys. So now what we have is a completely clear beach. Looks pretty dang good. Lemme go ahead and merge those layers back together again. We can see, there's the before and the after with that. But we don't have any of the beach texture there, like the ripples in the sand. So everyone's removed. Now we wanna go ahead and add some of that texture back. It's really easy to do. So, we're gonna make a new layer. I'm gonna hit Shift-Delete here to fill with 50% gray. We're gonna go to Filter, down to Render, and then we're gonna go to Clouds. Oh, you known what? It did work, but we want our clouds to be black and white. Right now, they're ... Clouds are always gonna be the foreground color and the background color. So we're gonna hit D for the default color, and then we'll just do it again. Filter, Render, and then down to Clouds. This is Photoshop version of Clouds, which honestly look nothing like clouds. I don't know why they call it Clouds. But it's basically just a random splattering of dark and light. Okay. Now, I'm gonna change this layer Blend mode from Normal down to something like Overlay, okay? We can lower our opacity on this, and I can also make this only visible where these sand layers are visible using a clipping mask. How many people have used a clipping mask before? Okay, cool, a couple. They're awesome. Basically, if you want one layer to be visible where another layer is, like if I want this to only be visible where my layer two is visible, all I have to do is right-click on this, go down to Create Clipping Mask, and that's it. Now, this layer is only gonna be visible where this layer is visible, which is really cool. So now we're gonna start playing around with this layer. This is just the Clouds layer here, but it's set to Overlay. If I hit Command-T, I can stretch this around, I can bring this out and around there. I can even add a Gaussian blur to it, as well. There we go. I can lower my opacity. And you can see, it's starting to add natural variation to ... There we go ... To the beach. If you need it to be smaller, just make it a little bit smaller, and then duplicate it. Hit Command-J to duplicate that, and then we have another one of our layers right up there. So we're basically just adding this texture back onto the beach. So instead of just being a completely blank slate, we've got our texture back on the beach. There we go. That looks pretty good to me. I mean, if I saw that image, I think I would probably believe that that was a pretty blank beach. What do you guys think? I hope you say, "Yes." (group laughs) If you guys are like, "Eh, don't look real to me at all" ... (Moderator) The internet is saying, "Awesomeness." Awesomeness, pretty cool. All right, let's take a look at our before and after. And really, that did not take too long. I mean, especially when you consider how much we removed from that image and how much of this image we actually did change. So there's the before, and the after with that. (Woman) Can you zoom in? I'd love to see the transition from her skin to the beach. Yeah, for sure. So this area, you can see that right there is where I ... Using my Pen tool I got a little bit farther out. But the really nice part about that is, it's actually pretty easy to take care of that. So if I go back to this layer, all right, where we have ... If I go back to that layer, you can also save your pen paths. Let me go Window down to Paths. In this case, I actually wasn't saving my pen paths. But if you did ... There we go. If you had that pen path saved, you could simply ... Let's say this was the original path, right? And then you just call this "arm," A-R-M. And you started working whatever, and then you came back and you realized that you had done that, you can actually click back on your arm path, hit P for the Pen tool, and you can actually pull it in 'til it was perfect. So in this case, I'll just make this one actually work for it. But if you do save your pen paths, which is a good idea ... I was just doing, for time's sake, going a little bit faster here. If you did save your pen path, you can just pull it in just a little bit and then redo your selection. So in this case, I'm just gonna use this pen path that I just made. We're gonna right-click, we're gonna go to Make Selection there, all right? And then on this layer here, I'm just gonna grab my Brush tool and sample here and then paint right into there. And there we go. Now that took care of it. And because we had that as a selection, I don't have to worry about stopping. It's not gonna let me paint inside of there. So, cool. And then, the right side should be a little bit more ... There we go. The right side should be a little bit cleaner. And we'll just make this invisible and then visible. Very cool. That help? (Woman) Yeah. All right. It's pretty cool, right? (Woman) Yeah. I mean, it's not exactly perfect, but if you spent a little bit more time on it, you can get it really, really good. All right, very cool. So that's one technique for background removal, guys. We just removed a ton of stuff, and I didn't use a Healing Brush tool, I didn't use a Clone Stamp tool, I didn't use a Patch tool, no Content-Aware, nothing like that. That was the Pen tool to make a selection, the Brush tool to basically paint the majority of that in, and then just a simple Clouds render, and that took care of it.

Class Description

Join Photoshop instructor Aaron Nace for an in-depth lesson into cloning and image correction. Learn how to remove distractions, simplify backgrounds, and hide skin blemishes using advanced cloning techniques. When do you use the clone stamp over the healing brush tool? Learn the differences between the two and how to use both to their fullest potential. From retouching to image restoration, these cloning techniques will make a series difference in your workflow.  

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1.2


a Creativelive Student

Very helpful and useful tips. I am not of the belief that Aaron isn't the best speaker. I find that he is down to earth and doesn't come across as arrogant despite the fact he is truly a master at photoshop techniques. I follow his youtube posts and always learn a new tip or technique. In fact I purchased this class based on Aaron Nace being the presenter. This is the first Creative live I've ever purchased. I've watched several of the the free ones but never felt the need to purchase them. I am extremely happy with my purchase and can't wait to try out some of the new tricks I've learned. Thanks

Mel Bazarian

Great course - easy to follow and I appreciated the brevity. I particularly liked Aaron's style of explaining things in layman' terms and was surprised at how simple using the pen tool seems to be. I will also try to embrace the brush tool, which had always looked too "fake" to me. Now that I know how to add texture, I might have to give it another chance. Off to practice some of these techniques.

Kellie Seldon

Aaron is a master of photography and I was so honored to be able to see him work his magic in person. His methods and techniques are easy enough for any photographer whether they be beginners or more advanced. Aaron Nace is really one of the best Photoshop teachers out there!