Richard Sibley shows us how to remove linear objects from an image using cloning.

 

removing linear objects through cloning - castle

Technique explained: Advanced retouching techniques

Requirements:

Software: Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or similar software

System requirements: Windows PC or Mac

Skill required: Medium

Time to complete: 20 minutes

 

removing linear objects through cloning - before and after

 

As much as we strive to get images correct in the camera, there are some conveniences of modern life we simply cannot prevent intruding into our photographs. Television aerials, telephone lines and electricity pylons are elements in an image that can easily attract unwanted attention or draw the eye in the wrong direction.

Of course, removing such distractions is fairly straightforward in the digital age. Nearly all software packages have a Clone tool or Spot Removal brush that allows the user to ‘paint’ out unwanted objects.

However, without using a degree of finesse it can be blatantly obvious where cloning has taken place, particularly if someone is looking for it. The main problem is that the human eye is very good at spotting patterns. When cloning, the trick is to select a different source point every time you use the brush, to avoid a pattern gradually building up as the same source is repeated time and again.

Another concern is a change in texture. Whether it is the natural texture captured in an image or simply a degree of image noise, excessive use of the cloning or healing tools can result in smooth areas that lack the texture of the area around them.

By being a little creative with how the cloning tool is used, it is possible to make quite precise changes that are all but impossible to spot.

 

How to remove linear objects

Use the Marquee tool and the Clone tool for the seamless removal of unwanted elements

 

removing linear objects through cloning - stage 1

 

Step 1 – Use the marquee tool and make a selection with a slightly feathered edge.

Most photographers would use the Clone tool or healing brush to remove this flagpole, but there is a quicker method that won’t destroy the texture of the image.

I’ve used the Marquee tool and made a selection with a slightly feathered edge next to the pole.

This selection will be copied to a new layer and then used to hide the pole.

The feathered edge helps to blend the area with the background.

 

 

 

removing linear objects through cloning - stage 2

 

Step 2 – Select Layer>New>Layer via Copy. Now use the cursor keys to shift this layer so that it is positioned over the pole

Select Layer>New>Layer via Copy.

This will copy the selection to a new layer.

In the Layers palette make sure this new layer is highlighted and select the Move tool.

Now use the cursor keys to shift this layer so that it is positioned over the pole.

Repeat steps 1 and 2, using different sized selections, until the unwanted area is hidden.

 

 

removing linear objects through cloning - stage 3

 

Step 3 – Look at the image and make any further slight adjustments to the placement of each patch until you are happy with the result.

There are now several different layers, each containing a small patch that hides the pole on the original layer.

Look at the image and make any further slight adjustments to the placement of each patch until you are happy with the result.

To make it easier to work on from this point on, select Layer>Flatten Image.

This merges all the layers into a single layer.

 

 

removing linear objects through cloning - stage 4

 

Step 4 – I have used the Polygonal Marquee tool to select the top edges of the chimney. By then inverting this selection (Selection>Inverse) the area is protected.

I have used the Polygonal Marquee tool to select the top edges of the chimney.

By then inverting this selection (Selection>Inverse) the area is protected.

This makes it easy to preserve the edge of the chimney while using the Clone tool to continue to remove the pole.

 

 

 

 

removing linear objects through cloning - stage 5

 

Step 5 – Invert the selection. This makes only the area inside the marquee capable of being edited, which again helps preserve the edges of the chimney while using the Clone tool to remove the flag pole.

Invert the selection again.

This makes only the area inside the marquee capable of being edited, which again helps preserve the edges of the chimney while using the Clone tool to remove the flag pole.

 

 

 

 

removing linear objects through cloning - stage 6

 

Step 6 – Repeat the process of using straight-edged selections to make sure that all the sharp edges on the roof of the building are preserved while cloning.

I’ve repeated this process of using straight-edged selections to make sure that all the sharp edges on the roof of the building are preserved while cloning.

To avoid creating patterns, make sure that the Clone tool Align box is not ticked, and take samples from different sources.