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How to Remove Tattoos

Lesson 42 from: Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Khara Plicanic

How to Remove Tattoos

Lesson 42 from: Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

42. How to Remove Tattoos


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Understand How Elements Works


Importing Images


Workspace Basics: Organizer


Workspace Basics: Editor


Tonal Adjustments in Quick Fix


Color Adjustments in Quick Fix


Apply Black & White Filters


Sharpen an Image


Fix Red Eye & Pet Eye


Straighten an Image in Quick Fix


Explanation of Photoshop Elements


Basic Cropping in Quick Fix


Guided Edit Overview


Guided Edit: Tilt Shift


Ways to Save Files


Layers & Simple Selections


Combine Images with Layers


How to Use Layer Styles


Make Selections with Layers


Make Selection with Lasso


Compositing with Multiple Images


Refine Edge Selection on Image


Use Refine Edge on Images


Create Gradient in Image


Gradient Map Differences


Options for Saving


Brushes Overview


Creatively Use Brushes


How to Change Brush Settings


Use Shape Tool with Brushes


Work with Multiple Shape Layers


Finish Image with Custom Shape Tool


How to Load Brushes into Elements


Add Layer Style to Image


Clip Image to Shape & Use as Template


Retouching Overview


How to Use Content-Aware Fill


How to Use Content-Aware Move Tool


Spot Healing Brush on Blemishes


Remove Frown Lines with Retouching


How to Remove Tattoos


Remove a Gap in Teeth


How to Whiten Teeth


Adjust Facial Features


Working with Type Overview


Match Type for Image


How to Manipulate Type Layers


Create Postcard with Type


Add Type on a Path


Organizing Images in Elements


Add Keywords to Images


Smart Tags Overview


Using Albums in Elements


Places Workspace Overview


Use Event Tags on Images


Timeline for Image Organization


Recommended Workflow


Lesson Info

How to Remove Tattoos

While we're talking about healing, I want to bring us over to this image here. And let's pretend that this was someone you took a photo of and they said, "Oh, that's great but, you know, "I'm having some regret about these tattoos "that I've gotten." "How can we get those off of here?" Well it's actually pretty easy to do. So I'm gonna show you some ways that we can do that. And in doing so, we're gonna use the tools that we've already learned, and we're gonna probably need to pull, to rely on another tool called the clone stamp over here. So first thing we're gonna do is again, create a new blank layer. Then we're gonna zoom in, and we'll start over here with this part of her hand. So we have this little bit, this looks like the easiest to start with. And I say that because if I look at this image, we have this part running up her arm, and it's running under her bracelet which is not a problem, but it's going to probably require a tool we haven't talked about yet. So let's just start ...

over here, and let's see what we can do with the content aware fill. If I grab the lasso tool and make a selection over here, that is pretty good. If I go to the Edit menu and choose Fill Selection, Content Aware, I'm gonna get this message that says it can't do it because there's not enough source pixels. Well guess why that is? Because we're on a blank layer. The content aware tool can't work on the blank layer the way that the healing brush can. So for this particular thing, I can come down and maybe I decide to duplicate the background. And then we could run this. Edit, Fill Selection, Content Aware. And that did a pretty dang good job. From here I would probably retouch it a little bit further, because I feel like it sort of duplicated her knuckle right here. So I'd probably select that and try running it again. See if it, there we go, it made a little bit better choice. Here's another little spot that it seems to have done the same thing. Fill Selection, Content Aware. So you could kind of get at it like that, we could also go back to the spot healing brush. And this time if I wanna work in a blank layer I can, and I like to do that whenever I use the healing brush or the clone stamp. So we'll come up here and maybe I just heal over that a little bit. Things that I'm looking for are the texture of the skin, I wanna match the texture and the color. So that's why when this area was appearing down here, that didn't look right because this is clearly a knuckle. So we don't need to give her an extra knuckle over here. So that actually worked pretty well. But the limitation of the spot healing brush, is that you cannot tell Photoshop what area you want to use as source material. So if I'm looking at this and I think I just wanna source this to replace this, I can't tell it that with the spot healing brush. I can only click and drag and accept whatever Photoshop does. But if I switch to the regular healing brush, just the plain old healing brush tool, now I can actually source the information that I want to use to do the healing. Like the spot healing brush, it can work on a blank layer, and also like the spot healing brush, it will only do that if I turn on the option to Sample All Layers. So if that is off, I'm gonna have the same problem that I had with the spot healing brush, in which point I'd be painting and it will look like nothing's happening. And if that happens to you, then you're gonna get mad and frustrated like, "Why isn't this working?" "I'm so mad at Photoshop." I get mad at Photoshop too sometimes, (laughs) as you've seen earlier today when my computer was acting up. That's not fun, but it turns out that a lot of times in Photoshop, if things don't seem to be going your way, it's actually not Photoshop, it's probably something that you've done. So you wanna make sure that if it's not behaving as you expect, check down here and see if you remembered to turn that on. So with that on now, I can tell Photoshop what area I would like to source to do this healing. So there's kind of this bright area here that I just feel like we should even out a little bit. So, instead of just clicking and dragging, we have to do something else. If I try to click and drag, I'm gonna immediately get this message. And it says that I have to Option-click, or on a PC that would be Alt-click to define a source point to be used to repair the image. So okay, Photoshop, what does that mean? That means that I'm gonna position my cursor in the area that I want to source from. So something about here. I'm gonna hold down Alt or Option, and while I hold that down you'll notice my cursor changes into this target sort of icon. So I'm holding down Alt or Option, and then I'm gonna click with my mouse, just "click," and I'll let go of the keyboard, and then that's it. Nothing happened, there's no paint that's here. All I did was say, "Hey Photoshop, I want you to source "from right here." And when I let go, I'm ready to paint. So if I put my cursor down here, I can just click and hold my cursor down, and I'm just painting now. And you can see paint coming out of my brush, and you can also see a plus sign up above my brush cursor. The plus sign represents the area that Photoshop is sourcing from. So that's where I clicked to set my source point. So now as I'm painting, what I'm really doing is transferring that information from under the plus, it's gonna come out under my brush. So you can see that that's what's happening as I drag along, it's replacing the area under my brush with the area that's under that plus sign. And you'll notice it also follows me, as I drag the plus sign moves around. So then when I let go, Photoshop's gonna render this area, and we see that it is healed. And it sourced it from here. So that is, that's how I would approach a larger area that needs some adjustment. If I wanna see if I overdid anything, I can hide these layers to see what I started with. And then I can decide if I need to do any further cleanup, or if I'm happy with it. It's always good to check your work that way. Let's take a stab at these larger areas of her arm and see if we can make this get cleaned up too. So I'll zoom in, and again, remember how I told you there's some strategy involved? That is very true in this case as well. So I'm looking at the line of her tattoo here, and it runs vertically up like this. So I wanna think about that source point that I'm gonna create, and I wanna be strategic where I set it so that I have what I call "room to run" as I paint. So I'll show you, you'll see that when we view this in a second. The other thing I need to think about is the size of my brush. I don't want it to be so small like this, that it's barely gonna cover up the problem because remember that the way this tool works is by blending. So even if I'm able to tell Photoshop where to source information to use to fix this, it's still gonna be blended in with the original information. And if I'm sourcing this lighter skin tone color, and then I'm asking it to blend with the dark color of the ink of her tattoo, we're gonna get a lot of misfires in this case, if I use a very small brush. So I'm gonna make my brush bigger, but not too big, I also don't want to retouch any more of the image than I really need to. So I kinda have to find a nice happy medium. So I want a brush that's gonna encapsulate this area, but not be too much bigger, so something like this works. If I look down here I can see I have a 70 pixel brush, and I think that's gonna be a good size for this. Alright, so let's set our source point. So I'll move my cursor out of the way, and I'm gonna choose to set my source point about here. The reason is, remembering that that source point's gonna travel with us as we paint, I wanna be able to set my source point here, so that when I put my brush here, I can just click and drag straight up her arm. And the source point can follow along right here. So I have room for the source point to run along with me. If I set the source point like up here for example, and then I moved my brush way down here, so let's try it, I'll just show you what this will do. If I set my source point here, so I'm Alt or Option clicking, bloop, click, nothing happens. But now I come down here and I click and I try to drag up, look at my source point, it just rolled across her bracelet, and look what happened. Her bracelet is now appearing down below under my brush. If you didn't know how to use this tool, and you were just kinda fumbling around, wouldn't that just make you so frustrated? Be like, "What is happening?" "Why is her bracelet suddenly showing up?" Well, anything that your source point rolls over is basically gonna come out of your brush. When I let go, it might blend it, not too much. So we're left with her bracelet just showing up down there. So we obviously don't want that. So you really wanna think about where you're setting your source points. You can also you know, use short brush strokes if you need to, but in this case I think I can just do this with one nice long brush stroke. So let's give it a try. So I'm gonna make sure I'm at the bottom of the image. Alright so we'll be at the bottom of the image, and we're just gonna drag right up here. So I'm gonna Alt or Option click over here to set the source point. And I'll move my cursor over here, and I'm gonna click and drag. And I'm gonna just go, I'm holding the mouse, so I'm doing this all with one long brush stroke. And I'm gonna stop when I get close to that bracelet, because that's just a more complicated information. So we'll stop here, and when I let go, (chuckles) I think it really nailed it. That looks great. I'm gonna skip the bracelet area for right now. And set a new source point here, and then I'm gonna continue up her arm. So we'll set a new source point. Come over here, click and just keep going up her arm. I'm doing this again with one brush stroke, in this case I think that works well. In other cases you may find that a shorter brush stroke works. So that's it, we'll let go. And look at that. Totally gone. Now let's address this issue right here with her bracelet. I'm gonna zoom in closer, and we could try this with the healing brush, we'll try it and see how it works. In this case, I want to follow the horizontal line of her bracelet. And I'm gonna use that, rather than like selecting the skin and trying to come and like paint right up to the edge of the bracelet, which I can do, I mean I think that looks okay from if we zoom out I think that would look fine. But, it can be tricky. And sometimes if you're trying to blend this sort of clear area with a textured pattern that includes also a directional line like this, sometimes you just sort of get what I call a smeary blob. And I wanna avoid that. So I'm gonna instead, instead of sourcing here and painting down, I'm gonna source actually on the bracelet itself, so I'm actually putting my cursor right on the horizontal edge of the bracelet. So Alt or Option click, and you'll notice that your brush shows you a preview of what the source material looks like. So now, all I have to do is come over here, and position my cursor so that that pattern of her bracelet lines up with the actual bracelet. And then I can click and drag and paint upwards and away from her arm. And I think that also turned out pretty well. Let's try down here and see. Sometimes this'll be too much for the healing brush. But of course, it did a pretty good job. But I can still see like the texture from here, it's changing a little bit, and also this area. I think we can do a little bit better. So I'm gonna actually Command or Control Z to undo, remember that's the keyboard shortcut that is the same as clicking Undo down here at the bottom of your workspace. It's much easier to just do with the keyboard. And you can go back successively by just holding down Command or Control, and hitting ZZZZZ as much as you need to to keep undoing stuff. Conversely, I guess I should tell you that the redo shortcut if you wanna step back forward again in time, is Command or Control Y. So I like to think of it as Command or Control Z to zap away any mistakes that you make, and then if you change your mind and you need to return it, it's Command or Control Y, like why did I ever undo that in the first place? And you can bring it back. So now we're gonna switch to the clone stamp over here. And the clone stamp also can work on a blank layer. But again, we wanna make sure that we turn that Sample All Layers button on. The clone stamp operates identically to the healing brush, so we need to Alt or Option click to set a source point, just like we've been doing. The difference is that it doesn't blend information, it clones it or copies it. So the healing brush is really nice on skin or anything with like texture that we're trying to blend. The clone stamp is, really shines in areas where you are dealing with patterns like this, or these lines that need to be maintained even more carefully than what we can get with the healing brush. So we'll try this again with the clone stamp and see if we get maybe a better result. So I'm gonna Alt or Option click to set that source point again. And then I'll put my cursor over here and just paint up. And you'll notice now this area is too light, so I'll have to fix that, but I think it really did a nice job on the actual bracelet itself. So to fix this, I could switch back to my healing brush and source the skin, and then just paint over that a little bit, and that's gonna blend that right back in. In fact, that's probably what I would do. An alternative for fixing that, would be to continue with the clone stamp, but maybe drop the opacity down. So it kind of is blending it, but the problem you run into there is that then sometimes you get a soft smear because you're working with a lower opacity. So, my recommendation would be... I'm gonna undo all of that. In this case I used the clone stamp, cause I got the really nice line, the clean line of her bracelet, and then I would switch back to the healing brush and click my source point to then get rid of that color that was too bright. So it's interesting I think, when you use the clone stamp we sampled from just right here, and all we did was move this much to paint with it, but already there is a gradient again that's a transition, and then there's a difference in color in the shading. With the light in the image and everything there's this difference in color from just right here to over here. You can really, I mean you can see that even in the preview with this brush actually. So let's repeat that down here. So we'll use the clone stamp to get the edge of the bracelet cleaned up. So I'm gonna Alt or Option click over here, and line up the edge and paint that in. And then if there's any tonal differences, or texture differences that I wanna fix, I'm gonna switch back to the healing brush, and I'll sample from down below and blend that in. Maybe even make my brush a little smaller and zoom in a little tighter. I'm seeing this weird black line, and sometimes funny things like that happen with these tools. So I'll just zoom in, make my brush smaller. Alt or Option click to set a new source point. Ooh, it's kinda giving me... What's going on there, elements? Let's switch to the spot healing brush and see if that, it's perpetuating that black line. Hmm, still. Let's try putting another new blank layer down. These are the things you do to troubleshoot. There we go. So for whatever reason, it was sucking up information that was perpetuating that dark line. So I just went ahead and made a new blank layer and worked on that. So those are the things that you just do, that you try when you are working with this. And I'm gonna say, maybe we could even heal this up just a little more. Now that we've taken care of that issue I think, that's looking better. Alright, so we'll zoom out, and that's it. Let's look at the before and after. I'm gonna group all this retouching layers. So we've got the two blank layers and this background copy, and each of these has a little something that we've done to it. So I'm gonna group them by Shift clicking the bottom layer that I want, so they're all selected, and I'll press Command or Control G. And I can rename this Retouch. And then I can toggle the before and after by just toggling this I layer on and off. And we can see, there's her tattoos, and now she doesn't have tattoos. So, there you have it. She can think to herself, "What would it look like if I had those removed?" I don't know. I don't know if they can remove them that cleanly, like we can do in Photoshop. But, that is a look at how you use the healing brush itself, and then the clone stamp. And again the difference between them is that the healing brush blends the new information with the old information, which is really advantageous, but sometimes it has that little side effect of creating a soft or fuzzy, a fuzzy blend. In which case, it might be the clone stamp tool that you want, that's gonna just straight up copy. Another thing to point out is, hopefully you've sort of picked up that a lot of times when you're retouching images, you use the tools in concert together. So you might start with one tool like we did, and then use that to sort of create a base, and then you might have to reach for a different tool to clean up some edges or fix some funny little spots. They work together really well that way. So you just wanna make sure when you switch between the tools, especially if you're working on that blank layer, you wanna make sure that you're aware of your Sample All layers' status over here. Because, just because you turn it on for one tool, does not mean that it's gonna be turned on for all of the tools.

Class Materials

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Resource Guide
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Project Mockups

Ratings and Reviews


Just watching this class live. It's my first class with Khara; she is a wonderful teacher, moving at a steady speed but always being careful to let us know what she's doing in the moment. I would classify myself as intermediate in terms of PSE but I've learned lots of little things that will make further use even easier and more fun. I really appreciated her descriptions of the difference between PS and PSE and her encouragement in using Photoshop Elements and all that it can do.


I have only been able to watch portions of this class but every single part that I have watched has been technically clear and inspiring to me. Based on this experience and the thorough, 58 item list of lessons, I will surely be buying this class soon! Thank you Khara and Creativelive for making a class on this topic and making it be super!!

Ven S

Great course. You can tell she knows the programme inside out.

Student Work