This tutorial will show you how to remove items from a picture with complex backgrounds such as grass. In this case we are removing leaves but you can also use this method to remove areas of patchy grass and areas that are discoloured. The one thing you do need to have in your original picture is a section of grass which looks healthy without any objects in it where you can copy from with the clone tool.
Open up your original image. I have used a cat photo from Wikimedia by Armaud 25.
If you are working with a complex image such as grass, the first thing to identify are the areas of grass which look good where you are able to copy from. Focus on these areas and using the clone tool take out any small imperfections.
How to Use the clone tool:
After selecting the clone tool from the toolbar right click the canvas. This will bring up the brush menu where you can choose the size of the brush and the hardness. I suggest that you play around with these settings to see what works best for your picture. The red circles in the photo below show the rough size of the brush I was using in comparison to the photo size. I would also suggest using the hardness setting somewhere between 35% to 65% (Using a setting of 100% here would create a brush with a hard edge that will not blend. A setting of 0% will cause what you are copying to become blurred and if you intend to then copy from that area elsewhere, you will be building up patches that are not in focus – this will show the more you use it).
Once you are happy with the brush size, hold down the Alt key and click on the area that you want to copy from. Then click on the area where you want to copy to.
Using the photo below as I guide – I used samples of grass from 4 different areas all to cover over the slightly grey area of grass in the center. Using 4 different areas improves the quality of the new piece of grass as it won’t exactly match any 1 of the 4 areas.
The same photo is below after taking out the grey area.
Step 3.Continue to work in this way taking out the imperfections in the good areas – this will give you a good area to eventually copy from when you want to edit out the bigger areas such as the leaves. (If you copy from this area without taking out the imperfections you will copy them over the entire picture and you will start to notice the same imperfection in multiple areas and be able to tell it has been cloned).
Below shows you what can happen if you use a brush that is too soft. Any area that you create yourself that looks blurred you can use the clone tool again to cover over it as shown below.
The next few images show the sequence that I went through to take out some of the smaller objects.
As the grass changes in size and colour from the front to the back of the photo, it is important that you clone from a similar area. For example by cloning from areas that are horizontally next to the objects in the image below, we can be sure that the height of the grass and colour will be the correct match.
We are now left with a tiny bit of the image which will be difficult to edit as a leaf rests on the cats paw. The best thing to do here is to look across the entire photo to see if there are any areas you can clone from. In this case you can clone from the cats other paw.
Tidy up the last few areas of the picture. still using the clone tool.
The finished image:
The gif below shows the whole process from beginning to end animated