We’ve all been in situations where a great photo was taken, but a stray tourist poked their head into the frame. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to easily remove these pesky objects from your otherwise great images? Sure, Photoshop has their Content-Aware features, but if you don’t currently own Photoshop, spending upwards of $600 for one or two features isn’t the best of options. Let me introduce you to Snapheal!
What is Snapheal?
If you’ve heard of, or used Adobe Photoshop’s Content-Aware technology, you now know what Snapheal is! At it’s roots, Snapheal is an application that allows you to remove objects in your images, using very complex algorithms. Similar to Content-Aware, Snapheal’s algorithms detect what’s around your subject, and uses that information to make the edit.
When Snapheal’s interface is first launched, your objective is simple; load in your image by either dragging and dropping the image into the Snapheal window, using the “Load Image” button, importing your image from a local photo library, or opening a recently edited image.
When the image has been loaded, you’ll be presented with the following screen, which starts you off with the “Erase” feature.
For the most part, the interface is straight forward and simple, but it may take some exploration and experimentation before you become completely familiar with it.
The Erase Tool
As mentioned, the Erase feature is the first feature you start off with. This will allow you to remove certain items that may be distracting you in the photo. On the right hand side, you can select from one of three selection tools. A Brush, the Lasso tools, and there’s also a Deselector for removing parts of your selection.
If you’re a Photoshop user, these terms should be familiar to you. The Brush is the easiest of the selection methods, as it simply requires you to brush on top of the subject that you want to remove. You can adjust the brush size using the Diameter slider, or like in Photoshop, the [ and ] keys.
Once you start brushing, you’ll see a red overlay on your image.
When you have your objects selected, you have three erase modes available to you.
Shapeshift: Works best when you want to erase big objects
Wormhole: Works best to delete imperfections on skin with smaller objects
Twister: Best for clouds and multiple small objects
The Precision option will increase or decrease Snapheal’s accuracy when applying the edit. For areas that contain repetitive textures, a setting of Normal or High will be fine, but if you find yourself with a very specific texture, you may want to try the Highest setting. Increasing the Precision can also increase the processing time.
Once you select an erase mode, Snapheal will star the edit process, and display a fun fact while you wait.
Here are the initial results from all three erase types:
As you can see, each type gives different results. Wormhole seems to leave the most behind, while Shapeshift and Twister seem to do a pretty accurate job!
Clone & Stamp
As you may know from Photoshop’s Content-Aware feature, it may not always get the job done, so you may want to next resort to the Clone tool. This tool works just as it does in Photoshop. Option+click on the spot you want to sample, and then click/drag to clone away. The only downside to Snapheal’s clone tool is that it doesn’t contain a “live preview” of the sample.
I was able to use the Clone tool to remove the additional people in this photo.
The third feature that Snapheal contains, is Retouch. Think of this like an Adjustment Brush, where you’re able to paint in adjustments like Exposure, Contrast, etc. For example, if I wanted to brighten up only the dark brown building on the left side of this image, I can simple paint on top of that building, then increase the Exposure, Shadows, etc.
Of course, if you’re looking to apply adjustments to your entire image, the Adjust section is where it’ll be done. This section contains the standard adjustments like Exposure, Contrast, Saturation, etc.
Finally, the last feature will allow you to flip, rotate, scale and crop your image using either the overlay or the controls to the right.
– Snapheal is great at what it’s made to do; remove objects in your images. With its multiple erase methods, you’re bound to get an acceptable result, which can be touched up with the Clone tool.
– Being able to open RAW images is certainly a plus!
– The local adjustments via the Retouch tool is a nice way to touch up individual objects.
The only thing I can really nit pick on, is the interface. At first, it’s a bit confusing, but if you take the time to go through the different options and ‘panels’, you’ll very quickly get the hang of it.
Usually, Snapheal is $30, which compared to Photoshop, is a steal! However, Snapheal is currently on sale for only $7.99 through the Mac App Store. Yes, it’s a Mac only application. Sorry, Windows users.