Enjoying the beach when suddenly someone’s presence interrupts your perfect photo? Everyone has been there at some point or another. And the picture was so good, too! Don’t get rid of it yet. Instead, use Photoshop’s Patch tool to simply remove them and keep your image pure.

The Patch tool is capable of removing unwanted scenery, people or textures. How does it work and how do you use it? Let’s take a look.

How to Use the Patch Tool in Photoshop

The Patch in Photoshop may seem like magic—and maybe it is—but the way it works is by blending the selected area with the textures around it. This blending effect is nearly seamless and can perfectly mask an area of unwanted objects with enough patience and practice.

1. Let’s begin by creating a new layer. Click on the New Layer icon or by pressing and holding Shift + CTRL + ALT + N on Windows or CMD + Option + Shift + N on Mac OS.

Note: The reason you want to create a new layer is due to the way the Patch tool is used. It requires the application on the background layer itself, which can be destructive.

2. Click on your new layer. In the top left corner, click Image. When the drop down menu is revealed, pick Apply Image.

3. Now, in the dialogue box, set Layer to Merge and Blending to Normal. Click OK to finalize.

Note: What this does is create a copy of your original image, allowing you to destroy the copy while keeping the original untouched. Also, the Patch tool can’t be used on a blank layer.

4. Rename your newly created layer “Copy,” just so you can differentiate the two from the original.

Patch tool

5. Go ahead and pick your Patch tool.

6. Before you start “patching,” you have to set some parameters. Along the top you’ll see a few options. Set Patch as Normal. But what’s Source and Destination? There’s an explanation for both.

Setting your Patch tool to Source or Destination depends entirely on the image you’re working with. For example, let’s say you want to remove someone from an image. You would set your Patch tool to Source. If you want to copy a rock from one place to another, without removing the original, you would use Destination.

7. Now, in the image above, the log has been selected using the Patch tool set to Source.

8. Click on the selection and drag it away, but don’t let go of it yet. The trick is to drag the selection to a spot that matches the surrounding area. As you drag the selection, its original spot will change based on where you’re holding the selection.

How about an object that you want to copy? That can be done well enough with the Patch tool set to Destination.

9. Pick up the Patch tool and set it to Destination.

10. In the image above, a log is being selected. However, it isn’t being removed, but rather copied and moved. Select something you want to move with the Patch tool.

11. Now drag your selection to a new area. You will notice that you simply copied that area rather than completely erasing it.

Bottom Line

And that’s all there is to it! Using the Patch tool is so good at hiding objects and copying them over, while blending the selection in a way that looks real. It’s application is excellent at erasing some pesky photobombers in the background or cleaning up a photo that contains unwanted objects.