Deke’s Techniques: How to remove people from photos with Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

In this week’s free technique, Deke uses Photoshop to remove unwanted folk from a wedding photo. Now that may sound harsh, and I don’t want to imply—on my dear friend Mary’s behalf—that her beloved wedding guests were not considered treasured witnesses of her blessed event. But sometimes, you just want to pretend that the camera captured just the happy couple, and not the whole crowd. (OK, some of you may want to remove people from your life altogether, but that’s beyond the power of Photoshop.) In this case, Mary and Billy have asked Deke to temporarily remove the extraneous folk from this image:

Wedding photo with unwanted guests

While Photoshop CS5′s Content-Aware Fill is designed to fill in spaces where undesired objects reside in a photo, it doesn’t always work exactly the way you intend. The process Deke demonstrates here allows you to get around one of the limitations of Content-Aware Fill, namely that it fills your voids with information from the entire photograph. If you were to simply select the unwanted guests and try to fill them in, Content-Aware Fill would sample the areas that include the very people we’re trying to remove, which in this circumstance, would also make a duplicate of Mary’s head (which would probably leave Billy confused when it came time to kiss the bride). So, the trick to achieving good results on this project is to use Content-Aware Fill to create a new layer composed entirely of foliage. Then you can put the masked couple back on top of the purged background.

By the end of this free video Deke will show you how to arrive here, with a nice leafy background devoid of interlopers, but Mary’s head in need of some restoration:

Using the content-aware fill to remove unwanted people

Next, in this week’s two member-exclusive Deke’s Techniques videos—Masking people back into a photo and Hand-painting a mask—members of the Online Training Library® will see how Deke eventually restores Mary to her full bridal glory. It takes some planning and patience, but eventually Mary and Billy are able to begin their lives together sans onlookers—at least in this final result:

Masking people back into a photo

See you back here next week with another free technique!

Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All courses on Photoshop on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Fundamentals
• Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Advanced Blending
Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Hair

Share this:Share on Facebook1Tweet about this on Twitter6Share on Google+1Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn1 - start learning today

2 Responses to “Deke’s Techniques: How to remove people from photos with Photoshop”

  1. Beau says:

    How can I remove people from holiday gatherings? Is there a filter for that?

    • Chelsea Adams, managing editor says:

      If it’s a photo of a holiday gathering—Deke has you covered with the Content-Aware Fill! If it’s real time that needs filtering, I can think of a few removal tools, but, unfortunately, none of them involve Photoshop… ;)

      Thanks for the comment, Beau!

Leave a Reply