How to: Remove People from Photos on your iPhone

This church is in Barcelona, Spain, on the top of “Tibidabo” hill. Apart from the church, there is an amusement park for children located at the top of the hill. If the weather plays nice, you get an awesome view over the city of Barcelona from the hill. To go up there, I recommend using the “blue tram”, followed by a rack railway and a few stops by bus. It takes a while but is an adventurous and fun journey.

This place is always crowded, and there were some people in front of the church.

I removed them with ReTouch Touch App [iTunes App Store Link] directly on my iPhone.

Sorry for the short interruption, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm offering training classes about touch retouch app where you'll learn how to remove objects and even people from a photo right on your iPhone.

Tell me more about the TouchRetouch Classes

I'm a fan of ReTouch Touch [iTunes App Store] photo editing app since it was released. It helps you to remove objects or people from a photo directly on the iPhone or iPad. It's a single purchase and works on the iPhone and the iPad and it's really simple to use. It offers either an automatic mode or a manual mode using a clone stamp.

Automatic mode works best with uniform backgrounds like a sky, a street or the beach. This is not the case in this photo. So I use the clone stamp.

I prefer a stylus for retouching photos on the iPad. I used to use the Just Mobile Alu Pen but recently switched to a Fisher Space Pen with Capacitive Stylus [see Amazon].

Remove people on the stairs


Using a clone stamp involves two steps; first you need to choose a source area; second you paint over the object you want to erase. As soon as you start to paint over the area you want to remove, the app will pick up pixels from the source area and use them to paint where you draw. The source area will "follow" your brush stroke. I tried to illustrate that in the screenshot. The two white circles are the source area, the red dot is the brush. When you paint from left to right, the source area moves along in the same direction. For this tutorial I keep this setting.

Make sure that you leave enough space between the source area and the object you want to erase. By default the source area will follow as you draw. You can change this behavior by tapping the "Flipping" button. Touch ReTouch supports "follow" and "mirror-inverted".

For this photo, It's utterly important to place the source area exactly on the ledge of a stair and to paint exactly on the same ledge.

To start removing the people, tap the clone stamp tool in the lower toolbar; it's the second button from the right that looks like a postmark stamp. it's indicated with a red dot in the screenshot. As you tap the button, a second toolbar with additional options appears.

Tap the leftmost button in the new toolbar. A brush (a circle with a crosshair) appears in the image. Drag it to the part of the photo you want to use as a source area. As you can see in the screenshot, a magnified area appears in the upper left corner to help you with exactly selecting the source area.

Again a word of advice: Always look for edges, ledges or lines when you use the clone stamp. It makes your retouched photo look more realistic.

Remove people at the top of the stairs


The tourists on top of the stairs are a little more difficult to remove. I was able to remove their lower body using the same method as described above: Picking up pixels from an empty part of the stairs and just painting over the lower body.

It will get more difficult for the upper part of their body. There are different textures having a different brightness behind them. The challenge here is to keep those structures and brightness.

But it's still possible to remove them. Just use different source areas instead of one. For the lady I used the rough texture of the pillar to remove her. For the gentlemen I used pixels from left and right of his upper body to remove him.

Remove the gentleman entering the door


To remove the gentlemen entering the door we use a slightly different technique. Fortunately we do have another open door with no people. So we can use this door as a source to remove the gentlemen from the right door.

As the "follow" behavior of the source area does not work in this case, we change it to "mirror-inverted". Tap the flipping button in the lower toolbar. A new toolbar appears in the middle of the screen. Tap the second option from the left with the two arrows pointing away from each other.

Now the source area will move in the opposite painting direction. A good thing, since the doors are also mirror-inverted.

Again, make sure that you select e.g. the lower left corner of the left door as the source and also start drawing in the lower left corner of the right door.


To remove unwanted people or objects from a photo you can either use an automatic mode or a clone stamp with Touch Retouch, that I reviewed here or you can get Touch Retouch App directly from the App Store.

When using the automatic mode, zoom in after using the it and verify that it didn't product any unwanted artifacts.

When using the clone stamp, see what part of the photo you can use to draw over the object you want to remove. Best results if you use the image from all sides of the object. If you get too regular textures, fix them the same way.

If yoou still have questions, why not join one of my TouchRetouch classes, where I'll teach you live how to remove objects and people from photos? It'll be a lot of fun.

Tell me more about the TouchRetouch Classes