How to Remove Unwanted Objects Using Photoshop

Oftentimes, we find ourselves capturing a really great image with the composition, exposure, and colors all working together perfectly.  The only downside is that there are a few photo bombers here and there that ruin the scene and distract the viewers from the subject.

These photo bombers can be anything from service lines hanging over the street, cars passing by, people walking past, or random objects in the corner. While they can be an eyesore, we’re here to tell you that it’s quite easy to take them out of your frame using the classic software, Adobe Photoshop.

There are four well-known methods that are beginner-friendly for the most part. Below, we discuss each of them in detail so you can have a better grasp at how to effectively remove unwanted objects from your images.

What is the process of removing unwanted parts of an image called?

The umbrella term for any post processing done on your image is “photo editing”. Photo editing can mean a number of things, from basic lighting adjustments to changing the colors of your subjects, or even correcting distortion issues that appear due to the lens used.

When it comes to adding and removing elements within an image, the process is considered a subcategory of photo editing known as “photo manipulation”. Photo manipulation in itself has many factors under it, this can also include joining two photos together, rearranging the perspective, sky replacement, and much more.

The process of photo manipulation is sometimes regarded as artistic, but most of the time considered essential when producing high quality, professional images that are taken in complex environments.

Which tool is used to remove an unwanted object from the image?

The best tool that most if not all professional photographers use to remove unwanted objects is Adobe Photoshop. It is a classic photo manipulation software that has been around 1988, earning its title as the industry standard tool for design, post production process, and digital art as a whole.

Adobe Photoshop is equipped with all the necessary gadgets needed to create a seamless image. What makes this program even better is how user-friendly it has become despite the fat that it is an advanced software. Beginners and amateurs alike will have little to no adjustment period when utilizing Adobe Photoshop as its interface is straightforward, clean, and efficient.

If you were looking for other options to try out when removing elements from your images, there are a few mobile apps that do a decent job, such as:

  • TouchRemove
  • Snapseed
  • Photo Retouch
  • BG Studio Remove Unwanted Object

How Do I Remove Unwanted Objects in Photoshop 2022?

There are four main tools within Adobe Photoshop that you can utilize to remove unwanted objects. Each of them have their own advantages and processes, and determining which one to use all comes down to the type of element you need to remove, the surrounding pixels, and which tool you feel most comfortable using.

Tool #1: The Content Aware Fill Tool

This content aware fill tool makes use of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and identify how to best replace the missing pixels once you remove an element from your image. It is the most recommended method because of its precision, and is most suitable for images wherein the surrounding pixels (colors and textures) are consistent with each other, since it will all be automated through the system.

Step 1 is creating a duplicate layer of your image. This is an important step when editing any image because this guarantees that you tweak your photos in a non-destructive way.

Step 2, while you are on the duplicated layer, select the Lasso Tool and trace around the area or object that you want to remove. You can either draw around the entire area or work in small batches to be more precise about it.

Step 3 is to select Edit and then Fill. There, you will find Content Aware next to “Contents”, select it and the AI system will automatically analyze the image for you. This effectively starts to replace the pixels selected.

What If Your Image Does Not Have Consistent Pixels Surrounding It?

If working with a more complex image, it may take a few more steps to get the job done. You can gain more control over how the pixels are manipulated by enabling the Content Aware Fill Workspace.

You can do this by selecting another area to remove using the Lasso Tool again, clicking Edit, and then selecting Content Aware Fill.

The workspace window should appear where you can find your original image with a green overlay. This green overlay represents the areas that Photoshop identifies to get samples.

You can also find another image on the right, which serves a preview for your original image once the sample areas have been applied to the removed pixels.

To use the Content Aware Fill Workspace, you need to be well accustomed to the tools. On the far left of the workspace, you can find:

Sampling brush tool. The sampling brush gives you the ability to select the sample areas manually, instead of the AI identifying it for you. The pixels you select will be utilized to fill in the gaps and replace the removed object.

When the sampling brush is in use, you will find a minus sign (-) in the center that you may brush over areas that you do NOT want to include in your sample section.

Similarly, you can widen the sample pixel coverage area by holding down the Alt or Option button to show the plus sign (+), and brush over the areas you want to add in.

Lasso tool. The lasso tool enables you to make selections within the image that you want to remove or replace.

Hand tool. The hand tool enables you to move the image and certain objects around.

Zoom tool. The zoom tool is used to magnify specific work areas within the image that you opt to brush over with more precision.

On the far right, you can find these additional settings:

Sampling Area Overlay. The sampling area overlay section offers a set of tools that you can manipulate to control how the overlay displays itself. You have the option to adjust its opacity, color, and what it depicts by choosing either sampling the area (default) or the excluded area.

Sampling Area Options. The sampling area option section is used to set the sampling coverage area where you prefer your pixels to be sourced from. These are the pixels to be copied from in order to fill in the removed space.

Auto. This tool automatically selects content that AI finds similar to the surrounding fill area, giving you the option to have your process almost fully automated and a breeze to finish.

Rectangular. This tool selects a rectangular area around the fill area.

Custom. This tool enables you to manually select the sampling area.

Sample All Layers. This checkbox allows Adobe Photoshop to analyze all the layers within the image document, and sample source pixels from them.

Fill Settings. These settings provide Photoshop with more data regarding the pixels you want to use in filling in the removed object.

Color Adaptation. This tool is best suited for removing and replacing pixels that contain texture or differences in color. You can opt to set it to None, Default, High, or Very High depending on how much texture and color is in your photo.

Rotation Adaptation. This tool is specifically designed to identify curved objects and allow Photoshop to replace the pixels in a curved pattern. You can also set it to None, Low, Medium, High, or Full.

Scale. This tool corrects content that has repeating patters of differing sizes.

Mirror. This tool horizontally flips the content, which works out great when the photo has a horizontal symmetry.

Output Settings. Output settings are for when you are ready to save your image. You can choose either on the Current Layer, New Layer, or Duplicate Layer.

Note that with each change you make on the above set of tool, you should select Apply at the bottom of the workspace window in order to save each step.

Once you are all through with the settings, select OK and you have successfully removed an object from your photo using Content Aware Fill Tool!

Tool #2: The Clone Stamp Tool

The clone stamp tool also works by taking a sample of one part of your image and using that to replace the pixels of the object you want removed. It functions in a similar way as the Content Aware Fill tool except that you have to manually do the process instead of relying on an AI system.

The clone tool is best suited more images than have pixels of similar color and texture as the sample point. The plainer the area is, the easier it will be to use since this tool copies the exact pixel from point A to point B.

In order to use it efficiently, you must first understand the clone stamp tool settings. Start by selecting the Clone Stamp Tool from Adobe Photoshop’s toolbar. Then duplicate your image layer, again, so you can work non-destructively.

Brush size and hardness. Customize the settings of your clone stamp by adjusting the brush size and hardness you need for the scene. Your brush size will most likely need regular adjustment as you brush over different parts of the image.

The brush hardness should most ideally be set between 0% to 10% in order to make your pixels blend in easily. The only time you should use a harder brush is when you need to clone elements with hard edges or visible lines.

Constant Values. For the other settings, keep the Blend Mode on normal and the Opacity at 100%.  The Flow value should also remain high as this is used to determine just how smooth the stroke of your stamp.

Make sure that the Aligned box is checked off so that your sample area moves along with your brushed strokes, keeping both your colors and tones similar to the surrounding pixels.

Layers. Your sample should be set to Current Layer if you intend to only duplicate pixels from the current layer you are in. If you want the sample to be selected from all the visible layers, select All Layers. Lastly, if you want the sample to come from the current layer and the layers below it, choose Current & Below.

Three Steps To Utilizing The Clone Stamp Tool

Now that you have a better grasp of its settings, you can start using the clone stamp tool to remove unwanted elements.

Step 1, select a sample point which Adobe Photoshop will use to replace the object you will be removing. You can do this by holding down on Alt or Option, and click on the area you want to sample.

Step 2, now that you have identified your sample, start brushing over the part of your image that you want to remove. You will notice a plus sign (+) over the areas you are dragging the stamp tool on, this means that your pixels are being added there.

Step 3, If you are removing a wide surface, you will need to keep resampling nearby pixels to make it seamlessly blend in with the rest of the image. Continue to adjust the brush size and resample as needed.

There you have it! That’s all there is to removing objects with a clone stamp tool.

Tool #3: The Spot Healing Brush & Healing Brush Tools

There are two healing tools within Adobe Photoshop, namely the Spot Healing Brush and the Healing Brush. The difference between the two is that Spot Healing Brush does not need you to sample pixels as it can work without a source point. By simply brushing over the elements you want to remove, the Spot Healing Brush analyzes the pixels and blends the image to its surrounding areas. However, this works best for smaller objects.

To use the healing tools in removing elements, follow these simple steps:

Step 1, duplicate your image layer, and then select Healing Brush Tool first.

Step 2, adjust the brush tool settings in the options bar. The following are the settings you can manipulate:

Brush Hardness. The softer your brush is, the better your pixels can blend in together.

Brush Size. Ideally, you want your brush size to be just a little bit bigger than the element you plan to remove. You can adjust this as you go along.

Source. You have the option to either source your pixels from the Sampled are or a pattern.

Aligned. The aligned checkbox option automatically shifts the sample area as your brush along.

All Layers. Set your Sample to All Layers in order to include pixels from the entire document.

Step 3, now that your settings are adjusted, select your sample point by the area closest to the element that is to be removed. You can do this by holding down on Alt or Option and click on it,

Step 4, with your sample now collected, simply brush over the element you want to remove. Continue sampling as you go along to ensure your pixels are as similar to the surrounding area as possible,

Step 5, once finished, select the spot healing brush tool and brush over the parts of your element that you cannot get a sample of. Adobe Photoshop will automatically fill in the details for you.

That’s it! Now you have removed objects using the healing brush tools.

Tool #4: The Patch Tool

The fourth method of removing elements is by way of the patch tool. It works similar to the healing brush tool as well as the clone stamp tool but is better suited for larger objects if the background is complex.

The concept of the patch tool is still to identify your source pixels or area within the same image and duplicating those over the element you want to remove or replace.

An edge this tool has over the rest is the ability to select pixels in a specific shape instead of using a brush. Adobe Photoshop then automatically blends the pixels all together, which may or may not result in an accurate combination.

To remove objects and people using the patch tool, follow these simple steps:

Step 1, duplicate your image layer, and then select Patch Tool from the toolbar. You can find it on the drop down menu by holding down on the Spot Healing Brush icon,

Step 2, adjust the settings in the option bar. You can find four icons comprised of squares, these are for controlling the selection. From left to right, they are:

  • Creating a new selection
  • Adding a new selection
  • Subtracting from the selection
  • Intersecting with the selection

Step 3, next to Patch, select either Normal or Content-Aware, which allows Adobe Photoshop to automatically blend the patch with the new background.

Step 4, select Source to remove the objects or Destination to copy the selection onto another area of your photo. The Transparent tool allows the new pixels to be transparent, helping you edit over the original image with more precision.

Step 5, now that the settings are fixed, you can remove the object by clicking and dragging around the elements you want to remove. This creates a rough selection.

Step 6, once the selection shows, click anywhere inside of the selection and drag towards the pixels you want to replace the elements with. This will duplicate them within the selection.

Step 7, Adobe Photoshop then automatically blends the new pixels into the selection, although it won’t be the most accurate job. You can simply repeat the process in smaller batches around the areas that don’t look smoothened out.

You’re All Set!

Now that you know the step-by-step guide on removing unwanted elements using the 4 Adobe Photoshop techniques, you will be well on your way to editing high quality images in no time!