Review: InPaint removes unwanted elements from your photographs with a few clicks
By Mark O'Neill
At a Glance
It’s fun to paint over the unwanted image and watch it disappear
Larger, more awkward objects make a bit of a mess
We’ve all had photos with unwanted people in the background, fingers in the lens, and date stamps in the corner. InPaint lets you rescue those photos by removing the unwanted elements, making them vanish without a trace.
It’s all happened to us at one point or another. We take what we think is a great picture on holiday, and when we get home, we discover that a total stranger has walked right into the middle of the shot. Or you have been holding the camera in such a strange way that your fingers were in front of the lens, partially obscuring the view. Before you start crying and begin deleting the photos, try InPaint ($20, free feature-limited demo) to see if you can get rid of those unwanted elements.
InPaint removes the area of the photo you specify, then loosk at what surrounds that area to decide what should fill the now-empty space, and fills it accordingly. It’s a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, with some stuff coming out remarkably well, and other times, it making the photograph worse. But with everything reversible, there’s no harm in giving it a go, to see if you can get the waving idiot permanently erased from your photograph.
Start by loading up InPaint and opening the photo you want to amend. Then, using the red marker tool, paint over what you want removed. When you release the mouse, a box will appear around the painted element. All you have to do now is press the InPaint arrow button in the menu and watch the element being removed.
With basic elements with a plain background, this is easy and quick enough. But if you have elements with weird shapes and multi-coloured backgrounds and foregrounds, then you might have some problems. InPaint has another feature you can take advantage of to attempt to make the job a little easier. It is called Guide Lines. With this, you draw green lines to mark the edges of paths and backgrounds, so InPaint knows where they are. I found in my testing that this makes quite the difference in some of the photos I used.
Uses for InPaint are numerous and are not just confined to wandering strangers and stray fingers. The website says you can also remove watermarks and date stamps from pictures, using the same method. Obviously removing watermarks from an image that doesn’t belong to you is unethical (and in most countries, illegal), so I would be wary of that one. But the removal of date and time stamps from pictures is definitely one I can relate to.
At $20, InPaint is a very affordable easy picture fixing solution, even more so when you can try the application for free first to see how you get on with it before you hand over the cash. For people whose hearts quake when they think of Photoshop, something like InPaint is a nice little alternative with virtually no learning curve. A Mac version is available as well.
Note: The “Try it for free” button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can download the latest version of the software.