Removing unwanted objects and text from an image to clean up your photo used to require special software and skills, but these days AI has led to features like Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop that allows anyone to do it with just a few clicks. If you don’t have a Photoshop subscription, there’s a free web and mobile app called Cleanup.pictures that you can use.
This article is a step-by-step tutorial on how you can use Cleanup.pictures to effortlessly remove things like objects, blemishes, people, and text from a photo for free with just a few clicks.
An introduction to Cleanup.pictures
In photography, there is a delicate balance between the elements you want in your image and the elements you want to leave out. To develop your photography skills, you must pay attention to this balance, but it is not always possible to achieve the desired composition. There are often unavoidable artifacts, such as people or background objects, that distract from the main intention of the image. Fortunately, there are powerful tools like Cleanup.pictures to help post-process these images.
Cleanup.pictures is basically a free website and app that lets you remove elements from a picture. The website can be accessed by visiting “Cleanup.pictures” using a search engine, and the feature is available in the iOS ClipDrop app.
When you visit the website for the first time, the ease of use of the tool is evident. If you want to get started right away, you can simply upload an image from the site’s home screen by dragging and dropping or browsing for your files.
If you don’t have an image but still want to test its functionality, Cleanup.pictures has some sample images to test. The app is similar in its simplicity and it comes with fast and powerful removal features.
A powerful Freemium tool for deleting objects
The free version of Cleanup.pictures currently has no limit on the number of images and export resolutions are limited to 720 pixels on the longest side. This is suitable for some social media platforms, but not suitable for printing at reasonable sizes with today’s printer resolutions.
The paid version (Pro) costs $48 per year or $5 per month, although you can sometimes (like at the time of this writing) find it on sale for $24 per year. This has no limit on the number of frames, no resolution limit and gives access to a high quality refiner.
If you want to try Pro on your own images, a two-week free trial is currently available.
Read on for step-by-step guides on how to use both versions of Cleanup.pictures to remove unwanted elements from a picture.
How to use the Cleanup.pictures web app
Let’s see how the web app can be used to remove the white picket fence from this landscape photo:
Step 1. Visit the easy-to-remember Cleanup.pictures URL (or search for “cleanup pictures” using a search engine if you forget).
2nd step. Look for the box that says “Click here or drag an image file”. Use it to upload the desired image.
Step 3. Once you have uploaded your image, the brush module will open. From here, you can change your brush size, zoom in to sharpen smaller objects, see before and after versions, and switch between high definition (Pro) and standard definition modes.
Step 4. Select a brush size suitable for the element you want to remove. Generally, it’s a good idea to have a brush slightly larger than at least one dimension of the element you’re removing, but you can experiment to find what works best.
Step 5. Paint over the item(s) you want to remove and wait for Cleanup.pictures to work its magic. (Important: If you’re using Pro mode, you’ll need to press the “Clean HD” button to the right of the brush size module when you’re done with your selection.) The removal step may take a few moments.
Step 6. See the results. If you are not satisfied with the result, press the “Cancel” button (arrow pointing left) next to the brush size module. Try making a larger or smaller selection of the item you want to remove until you get satisfactory results. Keep in mind that some items are more difficult to select and remove than others (e.g. removing a blue dot from a white background is much easier than removing a watch from someone’s wrist).
Step 7. Once you’re done removing items, tap the “Upload” button in the top right to upload your image. If you use the free version, keep in mind that the size will be limited to 720 pixels on the longest side.
Here’s a before and after preview:
Cleanup.pictures did a great job removing the fence from this image, and it only took a few selections to produce a great result. The zoom feature really helped in this example, and it helped select the details of the fence.
How to use the Cleanup.pictures app
Now let’s see how we can use the same technology in the ClipDrop app to remove the pole and spotlights from this photo of a house:
Step 1. Install the ClipDrop app from the iOS App Store.
2nd step. Under ‘Start from a photo’, select ‘Clean up image’.
Step 3. Choose the image you want to work with.
Step 4. Once you have selected your image, the crop module will open. Use it to crop your image if you wish.
Step 5. Switch between HD and SD modes in the crop module. According to the Cleanup.pictures FAQ, a Pro subscription should work on both mobile and desktop versions, but contact support if your Pro subscription does not appear on the mobile app after signing in.
Step 6. Press “Continue” to open the brushing module. In this module, paint over the item(s) you want to remove and wait for Cleanup.pictures to work its magic. This step may take a few moments, so be patient.
Step 7. See the results. If you are not satisfied with the result, press the “Cancel” button (arrow pointing left) next to the “Save” button at the top right. Try making a larger or smaller selection of the item you want to remove until you get satisfactory results. Keep in mind that some items are more difficult to select and remove than others (e.g. removing a blue dot from a white background is easier than removing a watch from someone’s wrist).
Step 8. Once you’re done deleting items, tap the “Save” button in the top right to save the image to your camera roll. If you use the free version, keep in mind that the size will be limited to 720 pixels on the longest side.
Here’s a preview of the before and after:
This post-processing gave fantastic results in just a few minutes. The most incredible modification was to remove the lamp post and keep most of the features of the house intact. This selection was made using an iPhone and fingers to paint over the desired area, but using a larger screen like a tablet and a stylus would make this even more precise.
More examples of what Cleanup.pictures can do
Here are some other before and after results we were able to achieve using sample photos in Cleanup.pictures.
In this example, distracting signs have been removed from this image of a skier. This process was as simple as making a few selections and hitting the “Clean HD” button. Note that Cleanup.pictures did a good job with the panels surrounded by complex trees.
The microphone was the most distracting element in this image, and it was quickly removed along with the other spots in the background. Further improvements could be made to help clean up texture inconsistencies in the background, but this quick select works in many circumstances.
This is a good example of a very difficult scenario. The trash cans on the left side of the image are visible, but their background is very complex, so it’s quite difficult to remove them and replace them with a “natural” content-based background. Notice how Cleanup.pictures did a great job removing the bike rack and the people, but the trash cans are a bit too complicated to fill in with a natural looking background. It’s a reminder that photographers must work with and accept the limitations of software and equipment, as well as pay close attention to composition.
In this product shoot, models stroll through a bustling city center full of entertaining elements. For most of the items that were deleted, a single selection cycle was used and Cleanup.pictures did a fantastic job. The most visible person (non-model) in the image
was removed with impressive ease and precision (although the selection could still be refined using a smaller brush and several iterations). Cleanup.pictures really shines when deleting text, and the unwanted text all took a pretty rough selection to clean up.
This is a fantastic example of the capabilities of Cleanup.pictures. All of these deletions were done with just a few clicks. This was a quick selection paint with a mouse, and only one delete cycle was done here. The results are amazing, especially for a browser-based and to some extent free tool.
Support available for Cleanup.pictures
One of the biggest features of Cleanup.pictures is their extensive support. ClipDrop, the creators of Cleanup.pictures, have created a “Community Slack” channel. If you want to learn more about what’s going on at ClipDrop, ask questions, etc., you can join the Slack community.
Cleanup.pictures is simple to use, fast and produces fantastic results in removing objects, texts and other items. It’s free to use if you don’t need the full resolution, and reasonably priced (even discounted until August) for the full version. Visit Cleanup.pictures using a search engine to test its capabilities using sample images or your own, and start a free trial of the Pro version if you want to test it further. Convenience is key when it comes to post-processing, and Cleanup.pictures combines convenience and power as an object removal tool.