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Advanced Photo Retouching in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 2 of 7

Remove Similar Objects At Once

Ben Willmore

Advanced Photo Retouching in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

2. Remove Similar Objects At Once

Lesson Info

Remove Similar Objects At Once

And now let's move on to other adjustment challenges. In this image, what I would like to do is get rid of some of the white paint that is on this train car. That white paint was freshly applied to the car because they were painting the train station directly above this. And if you saw the person painting, he was like head to toe covered in white. So he wasn't doing a great job when it comes to just getting the paint where it was supposed to go. But if you think about how long it might take you to retouch out a large number of those spots, well, first we could use something like the spot healing brush to try to tackle this. But if we do, you gotta come in here and paint over each and every one of those spots one at a time to fix it. And I'm way too lazy to do that, 'cause that, unless the client's paying by the hour, then I'd be happy to. Or happy to have somebody else do it. But let's see how I could attempt to fix this. I'm gonna revert just to get rid of the little spots I've alread...

y retouched out. And what I'm going to use is a feature known as Content Aware Fill. So let me first introduce you to how it works in case you haven't used it before. With Content Aware Fill, I first need to make a selection. So I make a selection and I need to make sure that selection doesn't actually touch what I wanna retouch out. Instead its edges are touching the surroundings. They're directly outside. Now it only needs to be one pixel into the surroundings to be effective, but it's gonna pick up the color that's right on the edge of my selection. And it's gonna attempt to match that color and that brightness. And if instead, the selection was right on the edge of what I'm trying to retouch out, it would attempt to match the color of what was already there, which is the white paint. But once I have that selected, there's two different ways of doing Content Aware Fill. You can either choose its own choice here, Content Aware Fill or just choose Fill, and in here there's a choice in this menu called Content Aware. When you click OK, it's going to compare the area that's selected to its surroundings and attempt to figure out what it thinks would naturally go in that position if that area was changed. And so you see how it retouched it out. Well, how can I do that and somehow put some automation in this to make it so I don't have to manually select everything. Well, if I go to the Select menu, there's a choice in here called Color Range, and it's designed to select a range of colors. Well, why not tell it to select white? And if I tell it to select everything that's white, we're gonna get all of those paint areas that are there. We'll likely also get the area just below the window of the train car 'cause I can see some white paint there. But we can easily get rid of that area of the selection afterwards. So anyway, let's try it out. I'll go to the Select menu, I'm gonna choose Color Range, and when Color Range first comes up what I usually do is I take this setting called Fuzziness, and I turn it all the way down. Then I move my mouse on top of my image, and I click on the color I'd like to select. And then there are little eye droppers here, and I either choose the eye dropper that has a plus sign on it, or I just hold down the Shift key on my keyboard, which does the exact same thing as that. Watch when I hold down Shift. Look at my mouse. When I hold Shift, do you see the little plus sign which means it's gonna act just like having that. And what that means is let's select more than one exact color. Let's select a variety of them, and those little white paint marks, they vary in how bright they are. So if I hold down Shift, and I click on another one of these, hold down Shift, click on another, and continue doing that until I've probably hit, I don't know five or six of them, I should be giving it a range to select and so it's not selecting just one exact shade of white, it's selecting a variety. So I'll call that good enough. Then if you look over here in color range, this is a preview. And this is a miniature version of your picture. If you actually want to see that it's your picture, just hold down the Control key, it'll turn into your normal image. Let's zoom up on that, and then when I let go of the Control key, this is giving me a preview of the selection it's about to create, where any area that's white in here will be selected. Any area that's black will not. And so I can see that it's going to start selecting some of those specks that were in the image and then that area I mentioned below the window. Well there's a slider above called Fuzziness. Fuzziness means how much can it deviate from the colors I clicked on? Is it okay to select things a little brighter, a little darker or a little bit off in color? So what I want to do is bring fuzziness up to the highest setting that just gives me the white stuff in the picture and doesn't make weird areas of the background show up. So if I bring it up really high, you'll see way too much of the image shows up in that preview. I'm gonna try to find the highest setting that mainly gives me specks, surrounded by black. I'm looking at the bottom portion of the picture by the way. And I'm thinking right about there might give it to me. So if you look at, down here you see all those specks getting selected. Now you can get a preview that's more accurate, instead of looking at this small version of your image, there is a pop-up menu at the bottom, and if I were to set it to black mask, it's gonna put black over my image wherever it would not be selected and you can see that it's all those specks it's gonna get, or you can turn it on to quick mask, which will show you a red overlay so you can see a little bit more of what's around it. But I think that's gonna give me the majority of those specks that are at the bottom of the image. I'm gonna then click okay, and remember I mentioned when you use Content Aware Fill, the selection you have shouldn't just be touching the edge of what you want to get rid of, it actually needs to be touching the surroundings, because that's where it finds out what color it should match and we don't want it to match these white shapes. So I'm gonna go to the Select menu. I'm gonna choose Modify, and there's a choice called Expand. Expand means make my selection larger, but keep it the same shape. So it's like having a balloon full of air, and you just put a little extra air in it. Well the shape of the balloon will generally be the same, it will just get bigger. So I'm gonna type in either one or two, maybe two in this case, and if I zoom up on one of these spots before I do that, it won't let me zoom while I'm in here, but I'll click okay. If I zoom up, and I choose undo, Command Z, you can see before this selection was touching that color, because what was in that edge was the transition between the color and the surroundings, and afterwards, you can see that it actually expanded out and now it should generally be touching the surroundings. That was expanding by two, on a case you might need to go further. But now what I'm gonna do here is, I'm gonna duplicate this layer, so that once I'm done, if it messes up anywhere like in that white area directly below the window or where his white shirt is, I can easily use the eraser tool to erase and changes it's made. So I'm just gonna drag the layer to the new layer icon. Usually you are used to hearing me say type Command J to jump something to a new layer anytime I've needed to duplicate, but if I do that in this case, what it's going to do is it's only gonna copy the area that's selected. And I wanted to copy the whole layer, and so Command J wouldn't be appropriate here. All right, now let's go to the Edit menu. Let's choose Fill and I'm gonna have it set to content aware. I'll click okay, and let's see what we end up with. I'm gonna get rid of our selection so you can get a better view. And then if I just turn off this top layer, that'll reveal the layer that's underneath. Ignore the top of the picture just look at the bottom, and look at how many of those little paint splotches are gone now. Now at the very top of the picture, there were bright areas that were close to white, and look at his shirt the guy's wearing inside and the area below the window. Well, all I need to do is either grab the eraser tool or use a layer mask and come in here and paint in those areas that don't look appropriate. And so here I'm using my eraser, and I'll just bring those areas back. And you could do separate passes for other shades that are in here because there are some more darker kinda whitish marks that are in here, and we didn't target those when I was using color range. We mainly got the extremely bright ones, and so it might be that I need to do a second pass. Now I'm not going to right now, 'cause I was just trying to show you the concept. I don't think you're gonna run into this exact image where you'll need to do it, but look at how many of those paint swatches I was able to get fixed. There's a couple areas over here that need fixing too. So just the main thing is, try to truly understand a feature and if you can truly understand it, how it works, then when you learn another feature and you truly understand it, your brain might start to make connections that it wouldn't otherwise. If all you're doing is blindly following steps, you'd never know that once you learn about color range, your brain would suddenly go, wait a minute, wasn't there something else that used a selection and did retouching? And you'll combine two ideas together, but only if you truly understood them. And that's why I'm trying to give you more of a understanding on how to use Photoshop instead of just step-by-step.

Class Description


  • Retouch in perspective using Vanishing Point
  • Separate fine detail from overall tone/color using Frequency Separation
  • Eliminate telephone lines that cross intricate trees
  • Swap heads, closed eyes, and smiles in group photos
  • Get rid of whiskers without affecting skin texture and tone
  • Remove stains from clothing while retaining fabric detail


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)

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a Creativelive Student

Cannot recommend too strongly. Each lesson is filled with gems clearly and smoothly explained. Techniques I use frequently will become much more powerful using the expanded tools that Willmore illustrates. This is one of those courses that is worth full price, and more