PI5 Clone Paintbrush Photo Restoration

Sometimes you really like a picture, but it has a fatal flaw -- like this photo I took of a tiger at a wildlife sanctuary. It's a good photo of a tiger cooling off in a pool, but the fence in front of him really does ruin the picture.

before and after cloning

Happily, PI5 makes it relatively easy to clone and paint out unwanted parts of photos. In this tutorial we'll get rid of the fence and set this tiger free!

We're lucky that the tiger's eyes weren't covered by the fence, because it would be very difficult to fix his eyes with cloning. What we'll do here is use the Clone Paintbrush tool as much as possible to clone out the chain links. Then we'll touch up hard-edged areas with the Blur Retouch tool.

clone paintbrushChoose the Zoom tool and click once in the image to magnify to 200%. Select the Clone Paintbrush tool. In the Attributes toolbar, select Thick Brush from the Presets dropdown list. Move the slider bars so that the nose is clearly seen in the image window.

To clone an area, hold down on the Shift key while clicking where you see the white crosshairs at left. That area is now "loaded" into the paintbrush. Drag down repeatedly in short strokes to cover the horizontal fence that goes across the nose. You may have to right click and Undo from time to time if you clone too large an area. Try just clicking in "dots" toward the outer sides of the nose, to cover dark lines.

clone out on nose

In the Attributes toolbar, switch to the Medium Brush preset. Shift-click an area closer to the inner eye, then click "dots" to extend the brown nose area underneath the eye. Repeat on the other side.

medium clone paintbrush

In the Attributes toolbar, change the brush size to 10. The Preset will now show "None," but don't worry, the Medium Brush attributes, including the very soft edge, are still there. Focus on the area to the left of the left eye. Shift-click a small area of the beige color, then do a few short, downward strokes.

smaller clone brush

Shift-click in the white to clone it, then do a few short strokes upward, blurring the line between the colors. Repeat these steps on the two vertical black stripes and the white areas between them. Try to mimic the underlying pattern of stripes when cloning.

Switch back to the Medium Brush preset. Now Shift-click close to each part where the fence is covering up the face. You will have to do dozens of these clones, then just click a "dot" or make a very short stroke to cover the area immediately adjacent to the cloned area.

Don't try to do too big of an area at a time. This is a time consuming process, but if you take the time to do an artful job, the results can be amazingly good.

As you can see below, the chain across the left side of the tiger's face have been blotted out with the cloned areas. There are a couple of hard lines here and there, but we'll fix them later with the Blur Retouch tool.

switch back to medium clone brush

Continue to move downward on the tiger's face, taking care around the mouth. Be careful you don't get a repeat of the little circles in the whisker pattern or the mouth will look odd. If there's nowhere to "borrow" a cloned area from on the whiskers on the left, clone some whiskers from the other side.

continue cloning around mouth

Repeat these steps on the right side of the face, carefully cloning out the fence with areas adjacent to the places that mar the picture.

As you can see here, by going slowly and carefully, the fence has been cloned out of the face entirely, and it looks pretty darned good now.

cloned fence out entirely on face

Move over to the tiger's back now and continue cloning. Start with a stripe, Shift-clicking to clone a black stripe, then make a short stroke downward. Shift click on the stripe below, then stroke upward. Repeat this process for the tan areas in between the stripes.

Below, note how I've cloned the stripe in a curving pattern over the fence. I'm trying to "see" the striped pattern underneath and mimic it as closely as possible.

clone stripe over fence

Now I've cloned the brown part in between the stripes, painting over the fence. Don't be afraid to deviate a bit from the underlying pattern of stripes, if it's necessary to do so. Fortunately, tiger strips are fairly irregular.

finish cloning stripes over fence

OK, here's our tiger so far, with all of the fence that was covering his body completely cloned out.

fence completely cloned from tiger

Select the regular Paintbrush tool. In the Attributes toolbar, choose black paint and leave the other default settings. Paint out the fence in the dark areas at the bottom of the picture.

The strip of wood running horizontally across the image behind the tiger's head isn't particularly attractive. In the Attributes toolbar, change the brush size to 30. Make sure the Soft edge=50. Zoom in and paint out the wooden strip with black paint. Be careful when you get next to the tiger's head. You don't want a hard line between black and the soft fur around his head.

Return to the Clone Paintbrush tool. In the Attributes toolbar, select the Thick Brush preset and change the brush size to 30. Now we'll clone the fence out of the rocks at the top of the image.

Shift-click an area to the left or right of the fence, then make short strokes or click "dots" to cover the fence. Continue in this manner until you've cloned out all of the fence. You may want to crop the image so that don't have so much fence to clone out.

clone out fence everywhere else

There are spots here and there where the cloning has a hard edge, or the cloned area has repeated itself in an unnatural way. To remedy this, choose the Blur Retouch tool. Leave the default settings in the Attributes toolbar. Zoom in to 200% and find the areas that don't look quite right. Lightly click on them to blur their edges, as shown in the before (left) and after (right) shots below:


Here's the tiger with all of the fence and the wooden strip completely cloned out. He looks quite different, out from behind bars.

fence completely removed


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