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  • Writer's pictureAli Menard

Removing Unwanted Objects in Pictures: Which Tool Is the Best for You? Part 2

Designer using tablet to edit photos

In my last blog post, Removing Unwanted Objects in Pictures: Which Tool Is the Best for You? Part 1, I discussed photographing my brother’s wedding and the headache of removing all of the objects on the wall of the house. Is the Remove Tool or the AI Tool worth it? Most of the time yes. But what about when even the ‘best’ tool is causing more headaches than it’s worth? As it turns out, there are other tools that used to be my tools of preference before the Remove Tool and the AI Generator Tool were introduced, the Patch Tool and the Healing Brush Tool.

Part Two: The Patch Tool vs Healing Brush Tool

Round One: The Patch Tool

If you have never used the Patch Tool, think about how you would patch up a hole in your shirt or your favorite blanket. You would take a piece of material similar to whatever you were attempting to mend and sew the new patch into place. To select the Patch Tool, click and hold down the Spot Healing Brush Tool and select the icon that looks like a literal patch. It is the fourth option from the top of the drop-down menu that appears when you click and hold down the Spot Healing Brush Tool.

Once the tool is selected, click, and drag to select a small portion of the object you want to remove. In the example below, I am utilizing the same section of the photo as before. By doing this, we can thoroughly compare and contrast all of the tools used to remove objects from photos.


After selecting the area for removal, the next step is to click inside of the selection and drag it to a spot nearby that you want to mimic. This part of the picture has ample surrounding wall in this specific part of the picture, which provides a good base for mimicry.

Release your mouse when you are content with the selected area to mimic. Within seconds, the results should appear, mirroring what you see in the picture below.

Although it may be a meticulous process, selecting small portions and cloning them in this manner will yield optimal results. It’s crucial to remember to deselect your current choice before moving on to create a new one. You can do this by either using command/ctrl + d or you can click the deselect button on the tool bar that appears when using the Patch tool. Eventually, you will see the object disappear altogether similar to the example below.


While the Patch tool can be effective, one drawback is that you might need additional tools for touch-ups. But the example above proves it can be a pretty effective method when getting rid of something in a picture.

Round Two: Healing Brush Tool

We have all used the Spot Healing Brush Tool to get rid of acne or wrinkle lines before and if you haven’t you are missing out. The Spot Healing Brush Tool uses what is called “Content Aware” to automatically correct and touch up pictures based on the immediate surrounding areas. With the Healing Brush Tool, you must specifically tell Photoshop which part of the photo you want it to mimic, just like the Patch tool. The downside to the Healing Brush Tool is because as you continually instruct Photoshop on the cloning locations, the task can become quite tedious.

To select the Healing Brush Tool, click and hold down the Spot Healing Brush Tool just like you did to select the Patch Tool. The Healing Brush Tool is the third option from the top. Prior to starting, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with two key commands that play essential roles in performing basic functions. The bracket keys on your keyboard increase and decrease the size of your brush. The left bracket key decreases the size of your brush while the right bracket key increases the size of your brush.

To begin, press and hold the ‘Alt’ key, then click on the area in the picture you want to clone. Once that is done, you can click and drag over the parts of the picture you want to replace. One thing to constantly pay attention to is where the starting point is so you don’t accidentally clone the wrong part of the picture. Below, you will see the tiny little white plus sign. This indicates where my starting point is. Continuously monitor that little plus sign as you work to ensure optimal cloning results. To change the starting point, press and hold the ‘Alt’ key and click a new area on the picture.

Just like the Patch Tool, using the Healing Brush Tool can require more tools to touch up your work. As you can see from the example above, there are already little spots that required revisiting with another tool for touch-ups. For those touch-ups, I use the Spot Healing Brush Tool. As I mentioned earlier, it functions similarly as the Healing Brush Tool but without the need to choose a starting point.

Examining the results above, it’s evident that both the Healing Brush Tool and the Patch Tool produced remarkably comparable results. Upon reviewing the results produced by the AI Generator, the Remove Tool, the Healing Brush Tool, and the Patch tool, the Remove Tool demonstrated slightly superior results. In this instance, the Remove Tool stands out as the top choice, offering a blend of speed, efficiency, and optimal results.

While trying to eliminate an object from a photo, the most suitable tool may vary depending on the specific case. The more you practice with these tools, the more adept you’ll become at selecting the most suitable one for each unique situation. As mentioned earlier, there will be occasions where relying solely on one of these tools won’t suffice. At times, you may need to combine and utilize different tools for optimal results. If the example below is any indication, the results will be worth the effort.

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