How To: Seamlessly Remove Things from an Image in GIMP

Photoshop CS5 has a content-aware fill filter which will try to seamlessly remove objects from an image – and that’s great. But GIMP has the same functionality, right now – for free. And it’s a doddle to use…

I posted about a cleverly designed glass which spells out what you’re drinking through linking dots on the glass with the liquid colour the other day, but to get that image, I needed to do a little bit of manipulation first. For this example we’re going to be using GIMP with the Resynthesizer plugin (package name: gimp-resynthesizer):

1.) Get an Image to Work With

I wanted to use a picture of the glasses, but the bar across the top was too close to them for it to be a nice shot with enough white-space around it, so the first thing I did was just stab the Print-Screen key to get a screengrab:

GIMP-Remove-Items-1

Remember that to fill in the missing details, you need as much as possible of what should be there – that is, a very high background to selection ratio! If you have a picture of someone’s face taking up a large section of the image and you try to remove the face – where can the plug-in get data from to know what to replace it with? It can’t! So it’ll make a guess, and it’ll fail badly. On the other hand, if you have a large swathe of grass with a football on it, and you’re removing the football, the plug-in has all the surrounding image to consider when doing the replacement!

In this case, I kept as much of the background as possible in the image while I was replacing the section I wanted removed so the plug-in could use that data for replacing content.

2.) Select the Section to Remove

Because the bar is rectangular in shape, the rectangular selection tool was the easiest option to select it – if you’ve got a more ragged section then use the lassoo selection tool, or a quick-mask or whatever to get your selection; just make sure it’s pretty tight to what you want to remove…

GIMP-Remove-Items-2

3.) Run the Resynthesizer Plugin

Once you’ve got your selection (i.e. what you want to remove selected), just pick Filters | Map | Resynthesizer from the GIMP menu and use the checkboxes as ticked below:

GIMP-Remove-Items-3

GIMP-Remove-Items-4

4.) Admire Your Handiwork

The Resynthesizer plugin is a little bit curious, in that running it, then undoing it, then running it again will produce different results. The first two times I ran it on the exact same selection on the exact same image ended up with some artifacts of text being dragged in, but the third time did the entire thing cleanly.

If you end up with stray artifacts from other parts of the image, you can either re-run the resynthesizing process, or just select the artifacts and re-run resynthesizer on them to remove them (remembering to keep the selections tight to what you want removed).

And voila…

GIMP-Remove-Items-5

That’s pretty awesome… Kudos to Paul Harrison for the plug-in – that’s some killer code – what a guy! =D

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