Let's say we want to remove the white painting on this image, and just have a grey wall background.

Usually the "Content aware" removal tool works, but in some cases, it does not (and creates surrealistic replacement image!). For this reason, and also in order to learn new techniques, I'm interested in learning how people achieved such object removal before "Content aware" was introduced in Photoshop.

Question: without using the "Content aware" removal tool, how would you remove this object and restore a realistic grey background?

Example: the white painting from this image.


2 Answers 2


That's not an easy edit even with content aware filling. It'll never look quite right if you try that method.

One possibility would be to make a mask of the foreground objects, and just add a new gradient filled layer as the background.

In the example below the mask was made using a combination of the blue channel for the leaves, some manual painting using overlay mode, a levels adjustment, and some manually drawn paths for selecting the more geometric objects.

enter image description here

Here's what the mask looks like

enter image description here

  • Thank you for your interesting answer! Do you see another method, by creating a grey background just in the location of the removed object? Maybe with Patch tool? (Reason: in some cases the objects in the whole image are so complicated that it would took too long to build a mask like in your answer)
    – Basj
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 9:45
  • @Basj I don't think that would work well. The grey wall isn't a regular gradient. The patch tool would probably create an uneven result. Yes, sometimes edits are complicated and take a long time. Also different images may require different techniques. This answer is intended only for the example image or similar images. There's a very specific problem to solve here. There's no single way to fix everything.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 9:58

You have already got the answer for the perfect result (=remove the wall and frame with precise background removal methods and insert a new clean background).

As you have already commented it is a hefty job. A simpler way is to paint a new background in the problematic area. It can be smoothed and patched afterwards for more plausible result.

Start by making a duplicate of the original image layer. Clone and paint there approximately the right greyshades over the frame and its shadows. I didn't try to paint gradients (a skilled airbrush user would make it), I only inserted dots of the different greys hoping they will be smoothed later. The green plant and the woodwork suffered a little in my not so perfect brushing, but that's not a problem:

enter image description here

Make with the polygonal lasso a selection which covers the painted area, but nothing of the green plant (or what's left of it) nor the other items below the frame. Apply Filter > Blur > Surface blur with so high radius and treshold that there's a gradient. Clone back with a small enough sharp edged 100% filling brush the destroyed parts from the original.

The result:

enter image description here

The blurred area has still well visible borders. Fade it with the healing brush - take the material from the blurred area. The result:

enter image description here

  • Thank you! Last question @user287001, Clone back with a small enough sharp edged 100% filling brush the destroyed parts from the original.: which tool do you use for this "cloning"? Can you add details about this? Thanks!
    – Basj
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 16:22
  • Cloning is made with the clone stamp tool. Select the original layer, hold Alt and click the starting point. Change to the top layer and paint by starting from exactly the same point. The brush setting of the tool must be small, sharp and opaque for accurate job - you do not want any blurriness or transparency here. Zoom in for accurate view!
    – user82991
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 16:32

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