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How to Remove a Tattoo with Photoshop

By Edited Dec 21, 2013 0 0

Isn't it the worst feeling in the world when you get a tattoo saying "Tom + Jane" only to have "Jane" run away with another guy the next day? Yeah, I wouldn't know either. But if that unfortunate circumstance should ever happen to come up, this tutorial will help you remove those awkward tattoos from your photos.

Things You Will Need

Photoshop (I use CS4 but any version should do)

Step 1

Tattoo


This tattoo doesn't contain any names and technically, isn't really a tattoo (it's a henna), but regardless, we'll set about removing it from the image.

At the top of the screen click Select and then Color Range. This dialog will allow us to select parts of the image based on their color. Move the eyedropper over that tattoo and click on it to define the color range that Photoshop will select from the image. As the tattoo isn't a uniform black, we're going to have to sample from several different portions of it to make sure it all gets selected. Do this with the eyedropper with the plus symbol underneath. Now hit OK to close the Color Range dialog.

You'll notice that other parts of the image have also been selected as they are in the same color range as the tattoo. Select the lasso tool and while holding the alt key, circle over these areas to remove them from the selection.

Once we have only the tattoo selected, we're going to make use of the Clone Stamp tool. The Clone Stamp tool duplicates a sample area and pastes it to the selected area (think of it as a continuous copy and paste action...sort of). We're going to need to select a small brush for our purposes. Press the alt key over a location to define that location as the source you will be copying from. We want to pick an area very close to the tattoo to best match the skin color that would be there if the tattoo wasn't. Begin painting over the tattoo and remember to have the tattoo selected always so that you are limited to cloning over the tattoo. Make sure to constantly select new sources to clone from (pressing the alt key). The tattoo spans a wide area of the skin, ranging from very light to a deep tan and we don't want to be cloning from the light portion onto an area of the tattoo that borders a tanned portion.

When you're finished cloning over the tattoo, press Ctrl+D to deselect so that you can see the image better. You will likely have something like this:

Tattoo - Cloned


As you can see, while we've drastically reduced the visibility of the tattoo we've apparently left a good deal of the it still on. This is because of several reasons; 1) when were cloning over the tattoo we couldn't clone over the areas directly beneath the selection line 2) I didn't select the perfect Color Range and so a few areas of the tattoo were never selected 3) I didn't spend a lot of time trying to be perfect with the Clone Tool.

To get rid of these smudges, we're going to use the Patch tool. Select a small area of the tattoo and drag and drop the selection onto an empty area of skin nearby. You should see the tattoo fade. We're going to have to do quite a bit of patching here, and have to go over some areas multiple times.

After a while you should have a pretty clean back. However you'll probably have some difficulty with the shoulder area. When patching that area, you'll notice that it only seems to smudge the tattoo, leading to something like this:




Tattoo - Dirty Shoulder


To clean up this area, we're going to use the Clone Stamp tool again. Simply clone from the nearby unsmudged skin (using the alt key to define the source point) and paint over the top of the shoulder. Now we have the right colored skin but it will look a little unnatural. As a last step we're going to use the Patch tool another time on this area to make it naturally blend in with the rest of the skin. At this point I also repatched a few other areas that seemed a bit dark.

You should now have an image that is totally tattoo free.



Tattoo - Final - Closeup (23055)
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