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How do you fill out in photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop is a powerful image editing software that allows users to make a variety of changes to digital photos and graphics. One of the most common uses of Photoshop is to “fill out” or remove unwanted objects or flaws from an image. This can be done in several ways using Photoshop’s selection, cloning, healing, and patching tools.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the various methods and tools in Photoshop for filling out or removing elements from an image. Whether you want to remove a blemish, eliminate an object, or fill in a missing area, Photoshop provides the control to seamlessly make these changes. With a little practice, you’ll be able to retouch images like a pro.

Selecting What to Remove

The first step in filling out or removing something in Photoshop is to make a selection around the area you want to alter. This isolates the area so that changes only apply to the selected portion. There are several selection tools to choose from depending on the shape and edges of the area:

  • Rectangle/Elliptical Marquee Tool – Selects square/circular areas
  • Lasso Tool – Freehand selection by tracing around area
  • Magic Wand – Selects similarly colored areas
  • Quick Selection Tool – “Paints” a selection over an area

The most precise method is to use the Pen Tool to manually trace around the object or area. This creates a path that can be converted into a selection. Take your time with the Pen Tool to snap the control points to the edges accurately.

Once you’ve made your selection, you can then proceed with cloning, healing, or patching to fill it in. Make sure your selection covers the entire area you want to remove.

Cloning Over the Selected Area

The Clone Stamp tool is one of the most basic ways to cover up or replace an area in Photoshop. It works by sampling an area of the image and then painting over the selected area with the sampled pixels. Here are the steps:

  1. Make a selection around the area to remove.
  2. Choose the Clone Stamp tool.
  3. Hold Alt/Option and click to sample an area near the selected area.
  4. Starting inside the selection, brush over it to clone over.
  5. Sample and paint over until the area is filled out.

The trick with the Clone Stamp is to sample areas that have similar color and texture as the area you want to cover up. This helps the alterations blend in seamlessly. You may need to sample and paint over a few times to eliminate the selected area.

Healing Away Imperfections

The Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush are designed to not only cover up but also blend and match textures and colors around the retouched area. The Healing Brush requires you to sample source texture first, while the Spot Healing Brush automatically samples texture for you.

To use the Healing Brush:

  1. Make a selection over the flaw or object.
  2. Choose the Healing Brush.
  3. Hold Alt/Option and click a source texture near the area.
  4. Brush over the selection to paint the sampled texture over it.

For the Spot Healing Brush, simply brush directly over the flaw and it will sample and blend surrounding texture for you. Both these tools work well for small blemishes, spots, or other imperfections that aren’t too large.

Patching Over Sections

The Patch Tool offers more control than the Healing Brush for covering larger areas. You select the area you want to remove, and Photoshop lets you literally drag and drop the selection over another area to sample texture from. Here’s how to patch:

  1. Make a selection around the object or flaw.
  2. Choose the Patch tool.
  3. Click inside the selection and drag it over to a texture area to sample.
  4. Release to patch the new texture over the selection.

The Patch Tool does a great job sampling texture, pattern, lighting, and color. Drag your selection over different areas until you get a realistic, believable patch.

Tips for Natural Filling

Here are some tips for making your filled out or retouched areas look seamless and natural:

  • Feather your selections (Select > Modify > Feather) to blend edges.
  • Use Layer Masks to gradually hide and reveal edges.
  • Lower the Opacity of Clone/Heal tools to slowly build up.
  • Use multiple samples for texture variation.
  • Make layers so you can tweak opacity or erase if needed.

Take your time when filling out areas and zoom in to check that edges blend naturally without noticeable seams. Subtle, gradual retouching always looks best.

Content-Aware Fill for Removal

An automated option in recent versions of Photoshop is Content-Aware Fill. When you select and delete an area, Content-Aware Fill will automatically generate texture to fill the space based on the surrounding image content.

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Make a selection and press Delete to remove the area.
  2. Go to Edit > Fill and choose Content-Aware as the fill type.
  3. Adjust settings as needed and click OK to fill.

Content-Aware works well for removing solid objects or backgrounds. For portraits, you’ll still need to combine it with manual cloning or healing to get a perfect fill. But it can save a lot of time for removing distracting objects and flaws.


Learning to expertly fill out and retouch images takes time and practice, but Photoshop provides all the tools you need. Start with the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush for simpler touch ups. Use the Patch tool for replacing larger areas seamlessly. And leverage Content-Aware Fill when you want completely automated removal.

With a steady hand and subtle, layered techniques you can make objects disappear and flawlessly fill out missing areas. Just take it slowly and check your work zoomed in at multiple levels. Filling out in Photoshop will quickly become second nature.

Photoshop Tool Best Uses
Clone Stamp Cloning texture over simple areas
Healing Brush Matching texture while healing blemishes
Patch Tool Sampling replacement texture from different areas
Content-Aware Fill Automatically filling in removed objects or backgrounds

Practice Exercises

Here are some ideas for practicing your photo filling skills in Photoshop:

  • Remove small skin blemishes in portraits.
  • Eliminate power lines, fences, or objects from landscape photos.
  • Replace the background in a product photo.
  • Remove logo elements from clothing or products.
  • Fill in missing areas or damage in old photos.
  • Delete people or objects from the background of group photos.

Start with easier removal challenges like small objects before working up to more complex fills and replacements. The more you use the cloning, healing, and patching tools, the better your filling skills will become over time. Continued practice is the key to retouching like a pro.

So now you know the full range of options for filling out areas in Photoshop. With this guide, you have the selection, cloning, healing, and patching techniques to seamlessly edit out and fill in areas of your images. Feel free to refer back to it whenever you need a retouching refresher. Soon you’ll be spotting makeover opportunities in all your photos thanks to your new filling skills.