How to Remove People from Photos in Photoshop?

Imagine you’ve taken the best shot of your life, capturing a stunning landscape, an artsy architectural monument, or maybe a snap of your partner, only to realize days later that there are some unwanted human figures in it!

Well, that’s a real bummer!

Random human objects in an otherwise charming photograph are simply unacceptable and are definitely a problem these days. No matter where we go, people will follow. So, preventing them from “photobombing” us is practically impossible.

However, thanks to cutting-edge photo editing technologies, one can easily remove people from photos with Photoshop, owing to its intuitive solutions. Photoshop offers multiple object removal tools that can effortlessly remove any human figures or objects most naturally. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can get a stunning vacation photo.

Read on and get to know more about these tools and the exact steps to use them. Let’s begin!

How to delete people from photos using Photoshop

Photoshop has a few different tools to remove people from images, each being useful to its own merit. The trick is to select the best tool for your purpose depending on the kind of photo or photos you are working with.

Below are three of the most commonly used and handy tools recommended by any photo editing expert.

Tool #1: Clone Stamp tool

The first one to start with is the “Clone Stamp” tool, located at the left side of Photoshop in the toolbar. If it is invisible, use the “Window” option and click on the “Tools” option below.

This tool mainly copies pixels from one part of the photo to another, which might appear like a simple “cut and paste”. But in reality, it is more than just cutting and pasting pixels here and there; the photo editor actually pastes the pixels by painting over the selected areas.

This tool is most effective when one has to paint the exact detail between two areas by removing any object or replicating a part of the image that is damaged in some way.

(Note: The keyboard shortcut for the clone stamp tool is S (Windows and Mac))

  • Step #1: Select the photo and zoom in

    Select the photo and zoom in
    • Select and open the photo you intend to edit, and zoom in on the part you will work on.
    • Duplicate the background to return to the original image quickly.
    • Then on the left side, click the clone stamp tool icon in the toolbar.
    • Right-click on the background layer and click the “Duplicate layer” option.
  • Step #2: Choose a clone source

    Choose a clone source
    • Select a medium-soft brush and set the clone stamp size to cover the entire area to be removed and smoothen the edges while removing.
    • Now, move your cursor to the part where you want to take the pixels and confirm the source pixels by clicking Alt+click.
    • Once you click, the cursor will change into a crosshair for pixel-perfect precision and display the cloned pixels.
  • Step #3: Paint over the area to be removed

    Paint over the area to be removed
    • Once the cursor changes into a crosshair, start painting over the area you want to erase. Be careful not to make the duplication process too obvious; and if it looks so, revert to cloning other pixels and keep painting.
    • Repeat the process until the entire painted area looks natural. In case you need to go back a few steps, click Cmd+Z (Mac) or Ctrl+Z (Windows).
    • Check for patterns indicating the cloned pixels and a removed object.

Tool #2: Pen tool

The pen tool is ideal if you have a simple object to remove. This tool is best for drawing a path or selecting the area around the human silhouette or an object with straight, hard, or curved lines and then erasing the path.

  • Step #1: Open the pen tool

     Open the pen tool
    • Open and select the pen tool from the toolbar on the left-hand side. Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcut “P”.
    • Go to the top menu options and set the pen tool on “Path”.
  • Step #2: Draw a path around the object

    Draw a path around the object
    • Create an anchor point by selecting anywhere near the object’s edges. Then make a second anchor point by simply clicking. This will give you a straight line. If you need a bent or curved line, click and drag the mouse pointer. (Note: If you have a curved line, click on Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (Windows) on the second (or last) anchor point to reset the anchor point and prevent the next anchor point from converting into an arc). For beginners and novices, this might seem tricky, but with constant practice, one can achieve precision and speed like professional photo retouching artists who offer advanced Photoshop services.
    • Continue the anchoring process until you have created a path around the subject, and once you reach the first anchor point you created near the subject’s edge, click on it. This will close the path.
  • Step #3: Now convert the path

    Now convert the path
    • Go to the “Paths” window and click the “Load path as selection” option.
  • Step #4: Eliminate the background

    Eliminate the background
    • As the final step, to remove the background, go to Select > Inverse and click the Delete key.
    • As another way, you can avail yourself of the keyboard shortcut Cmd + Shift + I (Mac) or Ctrl + Shift + I (Windows).
    • Alternatively, if you want to copy the subject and create a separate layer, simply click Cmd + J (Mac) or Ctrl + J (Windows).

Tool #3: Content-Aware Fill tool

The content-aware fill tool is ideal for deleting an object if surrounded by multiple simple elements as smoothly and efficiently as possible. It is a potent and highly intuitive tool of Adobe Photoshop to remove unwanted objects from a photo.

The content-aware fill tool analyzes a photo and fills a selected part with similar pixels, textures, and colors from a relevant part of the image. It gives an interactive workflow experience to the user and has a constantly evolving AI. Most third-party photo editing agencies that provide custom image enhancement services leverage this tool within their workflow.

  • Step #1: First, create a duplicate layer

    First, create a duplicate layer

    Note: Creating a duplicate layer of the original photo helps to prevent any permanent damage to it. So, before starting the removal process, ensure to create a duplicate layer.

    • Keep the object you want to delete active in the Layers panel.
    • Go to the “Layer Actions” menu at the top right corner of the Layers panel and choose “Duplicate layer”.
  • Step #2: Make a selection and trace around the subject

    Make a selection and trace around the subject
    • Use a selection tool, for example, the Lasso tool in the toolbar, and trace around the subject you want to erase.
    • Keep the edge close to the subject but also make sure to include some of the surrounding visual details.
    • Go to the control bar at the bottom of the selection and click the Edit > Content-Aware Fill icon; this will automatically fill the selected area with other relevant and similar parts (pixels, colors, textures, materials, etc.) on the image.
  • Step #3: Check the preview and remove any unwanted portion

    Check the preview and remove any unwanted portion
    • Check the preview on the right side; if you notice any unwanted areas within the sampling area, click on the “Subtract” icon from the “Overlay” panel (“–” icon at the above menu).
    • Use the brush and paint over the green overlay area to erase the unwanted portions.
    • If you are satisfied with the fill, click “Deselect”.

Thus, the content-aware fill tool creates a beautiful frame without any distracting elements present in the image. Start image decluttering your amazing shots with this super-intuitive tool.

The most critical aspect of a great shot is the complete absence of any visual distraction in the background, as any kind of distraction in the background takes the focus away from the actual subject. Whether you are taking a snap of your friends or families on a vacation or a professional photographer shooting for weddings, real estate, eCommerce, etc. - the photographs must be flawless.

However, not always a photographer can be lucky; they are likely to deal with cars, unwanted people, and other random elements in the background. For such scenarios, Photoshop is there to effortlessly tweak the background from any photo, making it appear natural and unedited.

Thus, if you always wondered how to remove people from photos hope the above tutorial will come handy to you. The detailed breakdown of each step will assist all those newbies as well as intermediates to hone their skills and produce breathtaking photos by removing people with Photoshop.

In case they seem to be too challenging, get in touch with a professional agency that can assist you with their stellar photo editing services.