This one is for Julie, who wanted to remove the distracting bright orange toy from this photo, and was having trouble cloning it out.
Now, let’s be clear – cloning definitely is the "correct" way to do this. It could be done with some patience, using this method. But when I asked Julie if she’d be happy with the "lazy solution" (my area of expertise!!!) she said yes.
So, here we go, Julie. I did this in Photoshop CS2, but it’ll work in all versions of Photoshop and Elements. This method uses the Gradient layer, which I’ve discussed a little in other tutes, particularly regarding skies.
First, I used the Lasso Tool to roughly select the background:
Then I added a Gradient layer. (Don’t confuse it with a Gradient Map layer.) By default, it gave me a black-to-white gradient. Immediately, I changed the angle to 90 degrees, so it ran vertically:
But black-to-white was no good, of course. My goal was a three-colour gradient to roughly mimic the three main shades of brown that currently existed in the background. So I clicked on the little arrow at the top of the dialog, and chose a three-colour gradient preset. A garish blue/red/yellow one:
NOTE: If you can't find the rainbow options in your version of Photoshop, follow these instructions.
Next, I clicked on that gradient …
… to get into the "engine room" of the layer. You can see the gradient illustrated there, with the three stops of colour indicated – blue at the start, red in the middle, and yellow at the end:
(One annoying thing about this method is that you get two or three little windows piled on top of each other. Not a problem if you have a big screen, but annoying on my laptop!)
Time to swap those loud colours for the three shades of brown I needed. I decided to start with the brown at the top, so I clicked on the little yellow stop (the little square), followed by the Color swatch (the rectangle):
When the Color Picker window opened, all I had to do was click on the brown above the hat, to choose it. Then pressed OK:
In a flash, I’d done the same with the other two stops … click the square, click the rectangle, click on the desired colour in the photo, OK. Bam! Done:
Well, not quite done. The colours were right, but their position wasn’t. For example, the light brown colour in the middle of the gradient was … well, in the middle of the gradient. But in the photo, that light brown was a bit below middle. No problem, all I had to do was slide those stops around a bit until the colours were where I wanted them:
What was the point of that? Well, the closer the new colours are to the old colours, the easier the next step is … the masking step.
So, once I was happy with the gradient, I pressed OK a couple of times to get out of all those little windows, back to my photo. Then all that remained was to zoom in, choose a small white brush, and mask the gradient properly around the subject:
Voila! Job done. A bit cheesy? Yes? Dead easy? Also yes. Gotta love that.
One more thing. Any time you add a gradient, you should also add a bit of noise. Read this tutorial about making a noise layer.
PS: There is more important information about gradient layers, plus a video, in this article.
If you have a question about this article, please feel free to post it in Ask Damien.