I’m back after a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend with my family in Arizona. Oh, was it lovely! Warm sun during the day, chilly evenings by the firepit, hanging out with my family through it all. And a few gorgeous desert sunsets!
I created this piece yesterday morning after returning home, as a remembrance and celebration of my time there. You can tell I’m still enjoying the Circular+ app! I thought it would be great to use the photo I processed in the Circular app, below, as a tutorial on cleaning and cutting for compositing images using the Handy Photo app. This image is actually three different images, blended together. (Don’t look too closely – that cactus is growing out of the roof of a building!)
Today I’m going to share the “Cleaning” part of the edit, and later this week I’ll share the “Cutting” part. For both functions I use the Handy Photo app, because it allows great control of the processes as well as good “undo” features when things don’t work right the first time. Android users rejoice – this app is available to you too!!
What I consider “cleaning” is basically removing distractions I couldn’t compose my way out of at the time of capture. I do this on images before I start with artistic processing.
There are two common ways to remove distractions: Cloning, and content-aware fill. While Handy Photo does both, today we are going to focus on the content-aware fill, which is called “Retouch” in the app. In other apps, like Snapseed, it is sometimes called “Healing.”
Here is my starting image, which I want for the silhouette of the mountains. I need to remove the faint, but identifiable, antenna tower in the silhouette.
First, open the Handy Photo app and load an image from the camera roll, called “Gallery” in this app. Next, you need to open the Retouch menu. To get to the main menu, tap the hand icon in the upper right corner of the screen, and then tap the Retouch menu. There are many more menu options than you can see on the screen. In this app, to navigate you rotate the menu “ring” to see additional menus.
Now that you are in the Retouch menu, you get ready to start by zooming in to the location you want to clean. Do this by using two fingers on the screen. Spread your fingers to increase magnification (zoom in), pinch your fingers to reduce magnification (zoom out), and move two fingers together to pan the image around the screen. You can also double tap on the image to quickly increase magnification to 100%, or decrease magnification to fit the screen.
You have three options in the Retouch menu, which is found in the bottom left corner of the screen. You have a Lasso, Brush and Eraser. For this edit, and most of the time I use Retouch, I choose the Brush to highlight where I want to retouch. (I’ll show you the Lasso in Part 2.)
Once you’ve selected the Brush, a control menu pops out from the right side of the screen. To adjust the size of the brush, tap on the Brush Size control, then slide your finger on the screen, left to reduce the brush size and right to increase the brush size. The brush size is independent of the image size. If you need a finer brush than the app will allow you to set, then zoom in further on your image.
Now that we have everything set, we are ready to Retouch. Using your finger, paint the area you want to Retouch. It will be highlighted red on the screen. If you have an intricate shape you are trying to brush, you can use the Snap to Edge feature. (I’ll show you that in Part 2 as well.) In general, you don’t have to worry about getting exact edges with Retouch. As you can see, I’ve roughly highlighted the antenna and the area around it.
Tap the screen to start the Retouch, and suddenly the antenna disappears! What the app has done is a content-aware fill, where it takes at the pixels around the highlighted area and uses those to fill in. In this case, it worked the first time. In other cases, you might see weird pixels filling in, like pixels from the mountain being added to the sky. If that happens, use “Undo” to go back and start over, brushing a smaller area at a time, starting away from the unwanted pixels.
You can continue “cleaning” by retouching multiple areas within a single session. While you are in the same session, you can keep using Undo and Redo. When you are done and like the result, tap Commit in the lower right corner. Once you Commit, you can no longer use Undo and Redo. After Commit, be sure to save your image to your Camera Roll so you have it in this state for additional processing. To save, look for the disk icon on the Main Menu.
In this case, I also wanted to crop to eliminate the clouds and make the mountain silhouette more prominent. Here is the final “cleaned” image:
The next step in the compositing process is to combine two images together. I want the clouds from this image of the same sunset, captured using the Vivid HDR mode in ProCamera, behind the mountains from my cleaned image:
How to do that? Blend using Image Blender. Start with the mountain silhouette as the bottom image and the cloud image as the top image.
In the Arrange function, I move the clouds relative to the mountains using two fingers to pan and zoom, and then tap Save. How do I know where I want the clouds relative to the mountains? I don’t know, when I am starting. I try a composition, save it, then experiment in the next app to see what happens. Sometimes I get it right the first try, but other times I don’t. I decided the clouds should be behind the mountains after experimenting with several versions in Circular.
Now use the Mask function, to mask the mountains and the bottom portion of the image. Using the Brush, you paint on the image to erase the top image where you don’t want it to blend with the bottom. Depending on your images and blend mode, you may need to get to be precise with your mask. You can use two fingers to zoom and pan for precise work. In this case, I don’t have to be precise except in the area the clouds overlap. As long as my mountains are masked and the clouds are not masked, the blend should look fine.
You can also erase the mask if you overshot in an area. To switch from Brush to Erase mode, tap the pencil icon. When the eraser is up, it’s in Erase mode. When the tip is up, it’s in Brush mode. When you like the mask, tap Save. With both the Mask and Arrange functions, if you want to change something, you can always go back into those menus and make adjustments.
Finally, it’s time to blend! For this image, either Darken or Multiply modes will work well. I used Darken, with opacity at 100%. The top image is blended everywhere I haven’t masked, so the sky and clouds appear behind the mountain silhouettes, as they would in real life.
Here’s the final composite image I created, after blending:
Cool huh? Later this week in Part 2, I’ll show you how I got that cactus in there!
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