Since it first came out, I’ve been so impressed with Photoshop’s Remove Tool. Whenever I used to teach about removing distractions, I had to teach 5 different tools. But now, most of the time, this one tool is all you need. Plus you’ll even get a little Lightroom tip at the end that I think you’ll enjoy. Thanks!

Step 1: Initial Lightroom Adjustments

  • Initial Setup: Start by making basic adjustments in Lightroom to optimize the image exposure and color saturation.
  • Cropping: Crop the image to focus on the main subject and remove parts of the photo that won’t be displayed, minimizing unnecessary editing work.

Step 2: Move to Photoshop

  • Duplicate Layer: Once in Photoshop, duplicate the image layer. This allows you to edit non-destructively, keeping the original image intact for reference or to revert changes.
  • Introduction to the Removal Tool: Switch to the Remove Tool and begin cleaning up the image. Adjust the tool’s settings to disable “Remove after each stroke,” providing more control over when changes are applied.

Step 3: Using the Removal Tool

  • Cleaning Up: Use the removal tool to erase unwanted elements from the image. This might include distractions in the background or imperfections on the subject.
  • Manual Commit: After making adjustments with the tool, manually commit each change by clicking the checkbox icon. This process involves painting over the target area and then confirming the removal.

Step 4: Advanced Masking Techniques

  • Layer Masking: Apply a layer mask to the duplicate layer. This technique allows you to blend the edited layer with the original seamlessly, correcting any overly aggressive edits by revealing the untouched layer beneath.
  • Selective Editing: Use selection tools to isolate areas that need protection during editing, such as the main subject, ensuring they are not affected by the broader changes being applied around them.

Step 5: Final Edits and Cleanup

  • Clone Stamp Tool: If necessary, use the Clone Stamp Tool for final touch-ups. This tool can help remove residual smudges or blend the edges of edited areas more naturally. Even though I didn’t need it here, sometimes it can help.
  • Merge Layers: Once you’re ready, merge the layers to consolidate changes and reduce the file size. This simplifies your layers so you have less to worry about.

Step 6: Returning to Lightroom for Final Adjustments

  • Gradient Application: Back in Lightroom, apply a linear gradient to tone down overly bright areas that may distract from the subject. This helps balance the lighting across the image.
  • Fine-Tuning the Gradient: Use the “Subtract Color Range” option within the gradient tool to fine-tune which areas are affected by the adjustment, so that the gradient doesn’t alter the subject or key elements of the composition.

Conclusion: Before-and-After Comparison

  • Review Changes: Take a look at the before and after on your screen to really appreciate the difference in how far one tool was able to go.
  • Saving and Exporting: Save the edited image to retain all adjustments and export as needed for print or digital use.

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