Tu­to­rial 1

James Paterson ex­plains the best way to get rid of dis­tract­ing de­tails in your land­scapes with sim­ple re­touch­ing skills in Pho­to­shop El­e­ments

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Get rid of dis­tract­ing de­tails in your land­scape scenes

We’re used to hear­ing about Pho­to­shop re­touch­ing in re­la­tion to por­traits, but what about land­scapes? Some­times a land­scape photo will re­quire a lit­tle tidy­ing to make it per­fect. Per­haps there are an­noy­ing tele­phone wires, a hap­less tourist or – in this case – messy de­bris that dis­tracts from the over­all mood of the scene. Pho­to­shop El­e­ments has all the tools you need to fix this.

The most use­ful re­touch­ing tool is the Spot Heal­ing Brush. With it, we can sim­ply paint over messy marks and blem­ishes and watch while Pho­to­shop re­moves the prob­lem area for us. The Spot Heal­ing Brush works best when the of­fend­ing area is sur­rounded by un­clut­tered de­tail, such as a sen­sor mark against a plain sky. But it can slip up when the sur­round­ings are more de­tailed. If this hap­pens, we can sim­ply switch to one of the other re­touch­ing tools. The Heal­ing Brush is a good choice, as it lets you de­fine a tar­get area when at­tempt­ing to re­move a messy patch, so you can point to a sim­i­lar clean area nearby to give the tool a help­ing hand.

Both these tools are semi­au­to­mated, in that Pho­to­shop makes de­ci­sions for you on what should be re­moved. Most of the time Pho­to­shop gets it right, but it’s not per­fect. At times, when full man­ual con­trol is re­quired, we can switch to the Clone tool, which sim­ply lets us copy pix­els from one place to an­other. The Clone tool is also a great fin­isher, as we can use it at a low opac­ity – say 20% – to smooth out any re­main­ing rough patches cre­ated by the other re­touch­ing tools. Used in com­bi­na­tion, these tools will let you re­move al­most any­thing from your pho­tos.

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