Add Remove

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One of the strengths of PS is its ability to magically add and remove figures from within a photographic image. Check out the image pair below... the image on the left was the original. The man with his head on his chin has been moved from one location and added to the other.

Add remove 01.png

Below is the layer structure of this file. This was made for demo purposes. In real-life circumstances, I would likely use fewer layers (or maybe more) depending on what the purpose of the result was.

Add remove 02.png


When adding one element onto another, the key is to ask the questions:

  1. What effect will the addition have on the environment?
  2. What effect will the environment have on the addition?

Shadow, light, color etc are the key values that will drive the answer to these questions. Much of this is already covered in the Matching Elements Workflow page. Perhaps the best way to read the following list of layer descriptions is from the bottom up, as this is the way that the file functions.

1 Compare

Here a copy of the original is placed on the top of the layer stack so it can be easily made visible and invisible. This will make it easy to reference for check continuity.

2 Layer Groups

The addition and remove are both put in layer sets (Add and Remove) for easy management.

3 Curves

This multiplies the figure so that its lightness values match those of the new environment.

4 add (Hair top)

Masking out the hair, some of the old background showed through. This was fixed by a small Cloned addition.

5 Man

The man figure with a simple mask. Care was taken NOT to make the mask too sharp. However, soft masks often carry a bit of the original background with them at the edge. This is usually dealt with by small cloned or painted additions round the edge (this is what the add (Hair top) layer is for).

Add remove 10.png

6 Add (Wall)

Just a small add to get rid of an edge that looked 'wrong'. I dont know if this was really necessary.

7 m

The two multiplies (one to the pillar, the other to the man standing behind) integrate the addition into the environment with a shadow. When making such shadows, always check the color and lightness values of any existing shadows.

Add remove 09.png

8 add (Blur figure)

This is a hack. The man addition is a lot more blurred than the environment into which it is to be placed (below left). This was less noticeable if a copy of the figure that lies behind was given a small blur (using the Blur tool).

Add remove 03.png


It is not difficult, using Cloning or cut and paste, to replicate perfectly areas of an image. The problem is managing these additions so as to produce an effective looking result. The Patch method ® is a perfect management tool for this. The patch layer 'holds' all the additions above it. The order is: Patch, Add and any number of Layer Blends as are needed to unite the result with the background. Read on...

9 m (Dots)

The hole pattern on the wall looks, at first glance, as if it could be easily cut and paste from the section of the wall that lies above it. However, when I tried this I found it difficult to get the edges to match. The solution was to make the pattern from scratch. The layers beneath combine to make a new section of wall. This layer is a white sold with dark grey dots on it. This was set to multiply blend mode, thus darkening the wall. It was made in the following manner:

  • A single row of dots was painted in.
  • This was selected (Command click on the layer) and duplicated / moved several times. There is a knack to this: Command Option on the selected contents and you will find that you can click and drag duplicates around at will. I dont use this much in digital painting, but it is wildly useful in making diagrams for Photoshop Wikis :)
  • A new white layer was made underneath this and the two were merged.

Once made, the Curves adjustment was used to get its dark values looking good.

Add remove 08.png

10 hue

This shifted the hue value of the addition the small amount needed in order to integrate it into the background. The hue value was sampled directly from the wall.

Add remove 07.png

11 m

A ubiquitous Multiply layer blend. I had to paint it several times with a large brush in order to integrate the add (Solid plus grain) layer into the visual fabric of the layer.

Add remove 06.png

12 add (Solid plus grain)

This is a handy trick to make replacement wall, floors etc. Just fill an area with solid color (sampled from the target wall) and add some Grain. I find Clumpy grain to be the most convincing. This produced something that was quite close to the wall in texture. All such walls usually need is some local Multiply blend layer fixing and, in this case, a small hue adjust. Check out the grain section in the matching elements page for more grain wisdom.

Add remove 05.png

13 Wall patch

This layer is key to making the patch method work. A color, roughly approximating in value that of the background, is filled onto a new layer and a mask set to reveal only enough of that layer as is needed to conceal the figure (tip: hold down Option key whilst clicking new Layer Mask button to create a new, entirely black mask). Additions are clipped into place above this. The Negative to positive cutting-in method is useful for getting the shape of the mask right. IMPORTANT!!! GREAT care must be taken when determining the softness and hardness of the edges of the mask.A harde edge in the wrong place will stand-out horribly.

Add remove 04.png

14 m

A final multiply was used to darken the edge of the chair. Notice how the Addition required more layers placed underneath it the Clipping layer. This is typical, as additions require more change to be made to the background. However, even removals often require that significant changes be made to the visual fabric of the ares not directly affected by the removal.

See also

The example add remove file can be download here (right click download)

Another example is here (right click download)