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How To Remove A Person From A Photo In Photoshop

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Whether someone unexpectedly came into the frame, or you need to remove your ex from that photo you look really good in, Photoshop is here to save the day. So let’s take a look at the easy step-by-step process to remove a person from a photo using beginner-friendly Photoshop tools.

How To Remove A Person From An Image In Photoshop

Step 1: Open The Image

If you haven’t already opened an image in Photoshop, click the Open button on the start screen or go to File > Open.

In the window that appears, find the image you’d like to edit from in your files and click to open it. The photo will appear in a new document.

Step 2: Duplicate The Background Layer

Once the image is open, you’ll want to duplicate the background layer. This will ensure you’re working on a copy of the image, and the original image remains unedited in case you want to undo your edits.

You can duplicate the background layer by heading to the Layers Panel and Right-clicking or Control + clicking the layer. Select Duplicate Layer from the list of options.

In the Duplicate Layer Window, you can rename the layer copy if you’d like to keep track of the layers or leave it as it is and click OK.

A copy of the layer will appear in the panel above the original Background Layer.

Step 3: Create A New Transparent Layer

Create a new layer by clicking the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers Panel.

You’ll want to ensure the layer is transparent, with no background color added. You’ll know it is transparent if the Layer Icon is a gray and white checked pattern rather than a solid color. You also want to ensure the layer sits at the top of the layer stack, above the other two.

Again, you can name the transparent layer if it helps keep you organized by double-clicking the layer name.

Step 4: Select The Remove Tool

In the Toolbar, click the Remove Tool icon. If you don’t see it in the Toolbar, you can find it by clicking and holding on the Healing Brush Tool icon, which looks like a bandaid. You can also press the J key.

Once you’ve activated the Remove Tool, you can adjust the settings in the Options Bar. Set the brush size depending on the image and the area you’d like to remove. The size of the brush will be visible when you hover over the document.

You’ll also want to check the box marked Sample All Layers. This will ensure the Remove Tool samples pixels from the image layers rather than only the new transparent layer, as the transparent layer doesn’t contain any pixels to sample.

Step 5: Remove The Person By Brushing Over Them

Carefully brush over the person you want to remove. While you can brush over the entire subject at once, you may want to apply the removal effect over the person one area at a time to undo the effect in case an area doesn’t turn out the way you like. 

The Remove After Each Stroke checkbox will automatically be checked, so leave it that way unless you’d like to fill in and remove the entire person at once.

Start brushing over the image. The edges don’t have to be perfect, but you want to try to keep the brush on only the parts you want removed with a small amount of the background included. Brushed areas feature a pink highlight. The tool will attempt to intelligently fill the area with pixels from the surrounding areas.

You may see a Progress bar appear, mainly if the area is large or contains a variety of colored and textured pixels, but it should only take a few seconds to load.

If the effect doesn’t work correctly in an area, you can go over it a few times, and it will eventually match the rest of the background with a natural appearance.

Brush over as much of the area as you’d like until the person is removed. Don’t forget any shadows that are left behind!

The resulting image will look as though the person was never even there – as if they were erased from the original.

Step 6: Fix Any Areas Using The Clone Stamp Tool 

Sometimes the remove tool won’t give satisfactory results in certain areas. In that case, there are other ways to remove images in Photoshop or other tools to correct inconsistencies. 

For instance, the Clone Stamp Tool (S) allows you to sample nearby areas and paint them directly over the person. Depending on your image, this tool might provide better accuracy or control over the final result, but overall the Remove tool will usually suffice. You may just need to use the Clone Stamp Tool to fix up small areas after using the Remove Tool.

Step 7: Save Your Work

Once you are happy with how the effect looks, you can save the image by heading to File > Save As or, if you’re working on the original image, Save A Copy.

Name the image and choose if you’d like to save the file just to Photoshop’s drive or to the files on your computer. If saving to your files, select the file format and then click the Save button, and the image will save to your device.

Limitations Of Removing People From Photos With Photoshop

Photoshop’s ability to remove unwanted people from images is impressive, but it has limitations. The Remove Tool removes objects by using AI to sample other already existing pixels in the image to cover the area you want “removed,” so the success of the removal process depends on a few different factors.

For instance, you’ll want to note how much the person you want to remove overlaps with the areas you want to keep. If there isn’t a lot of overlap or the person is standing alone, Photoshop can easily blend the cloned pixels into the background so the effect appears seamless. But when there is too much overlap, it will be more difficult to maintain the parts you want to keep.

Even when the person doesn’t overlap with others, removing them can be tricky if the background behind them is cluttered or has varying textures. Because the tool is content-aware-based, it may accidentally pick up unwanted parts of the image, so the effect comes out best when the background is relatively simple.

So at the most basic level, before trying to remove a person from your photo, make sure there are the proper pixels to replace and rebuild whatever is behind them in the photo. If those pixels are not available, you will have a very difficult time getting a good result with any tool in Photoshop.

Happy editing!

Photo of author
I'm a Canadian photographer and photo retoucher turned founder of bwillcreative.com. Around here I help you to decode the mystery of photo editing with no-fluff videos and written guides to help you achieve your creative goals. Outside of shooting photos and my passion for educating, you'll find me mountain biking or on the trails with my dog, Sunny!

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