Review: Touch Retouch App for removing unwanted objects (Upd. Aug. '18)
Touch Retouch (iTunes App Store Link) is an app for iPhone and iPad that will help you to remove unwanted objects and even people from your photos. On your iPad, Touch Retouch even supports Apple Pencil for more precision when removing objects.
It’s one of those apps that I use since it was released years ago. Since then, Touch Retouch received continuous updates and improvements and it survived many “app spring cleanings” on my iDevices.
How Touch Retouch works
The app has with two different kinds of tools that you can use to remove unwanted objects from your photos:
- Three different _object removal tools_for large objects, small objects and wires
- A clone tool to basically copy and brush pixels from any other area of your photo over the object that you want to remove.
One reason I keep using Touch Retouch so far is that I can invoke the app directly from the camera roll as a photo extension. Photo extensions basically add certain functionality for editing photos right in the camera roll. Such apps make the entire photo editing workflow a little smoother. To launch Touch Retouch App (or any other app that supports photo extensions) right from the camera roll:
- Select any photo in the camera roll
- Select edit
- Tap the icon with the three dots
- A menu appears displaying all the apps you can launch as a photo extension
If Touch Retouch App does not show up in the list though you installed it, scroll all the way to the right in the photo extension menu and tap the icon with there three dots labeled more, then locate Touch Retouch and enable it.
So to begin retouching a photo launch Touch Retouch directly from the camera roll or launch the app. If you launched the app instead of choosing the photo extension you’ll be greeted with a screen with three options:
- Albums, which allows you to open any photo from your camera roll.
- Tutorials has a few simple video tutorials
- Latest Edits display the last edits, that you can continue by taping the icon. Tap the three dots near one of the last edits icon to remove an entry from the list of last edits.
Once you’ve loaded a photo in Touch Retouch, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the different retouching & removal tools.
Retouching & Removal Tools
Touch Retouch has four different removal tools. Which one you should choose depends on what kind of object you want to remove:
- The object removal tool to remove bigger objects form your photos
- The quick repair tool to remove small objects, you guessed it, quickly
- A rather new line removal tool to help you remove e.g. power lines
- The clone stamp tool to copy one area of a photo over another area
All the tools are accessible from the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Now let me show you each of the removal tools in action using a photo I tool at Marshall Beach in San Francisco.
The object removal tool
I use this tool mainly to remove bigger objects from photos like people, trash cans, light posts and so on. The object removal tool works best if the area surrounding the object your want to remove has a regular pattern.
Here’s the photo I talked about that I took at Marshall’s Beach in San Francisco. There are a few people in this photo that I want to remove.
Let’s start with the easy ones which are the four people walking on the beach and the lady sun bathing there.
Here’s how to remove those people using the object removal tool.
- Open the image from the camera roll
- In the lower toolbar, tap the object removal. The toolbar changes and displays 4 options that determine how to select the objects to remove.
- Make sure the paint method is selected.
- Paint over the objects you want to remove like shown in the following screenshot (img) When painting over the objects, make sure you paint over the entire area of the object or person you want to remove and don’t forget the shadows! Ensure that your selection includes a few pixels more on each side of the person or object.
Once you’re done, press “Go” and watch the people magically disappear.
Next I want to remove a few minor things like the deep footprints in the middle of the beach and the rock in the sea on the left side of the photo. We’re going to use the quick repair tool for that.
The quick repair tool
I use this one for small objects like trash that’s lying around or to remove e.g. manhole covers in the distance (background) of a photo or to remove people in the background of a photo. They key to success here is that this tool is designed to remove smaller objects. So:
- Select quick repair in the toolbar
- Paint over the small objects you want to remove
- Watch them magically disappear.
In this photo, I use the quick repair tool to remove the noticeable and dark foot prints in the middle of the beach
As soon as I finish selecting those two spots, the quick repair tool removes them.
For the final two people that are standing near the see, the object removal tool or the quick repair tool won’t work properly because those people are surrounded by too many different things. Touch Retouch simply can’t distinguish properly between them.
The clone stamp tool
If the object removal tool and the quick repair tool fail, I use the clone stamp tool to paint pixels from another area of the image over the object I want to remove.
The remaining to people are a little more difficult to remove. Let’s have a look at the guy first. He’s standing on the beach in front of the water and a rock. Let’s see what the object removal tool does with this.
Not very cool. We’ll begin by removing the person head (Sorry Mr. John Doe):
- Select the clone stamp tool
- Tap the settings slider on the right in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen
- Adjust the size of the brush; we’re going to use a small brush here.
- Now tap once on the line between the water an the rock. You’ll see a cross hair appear. This is the area from which the pixels will be copied. Make sure that you’ll leave as some space between the crosshair and the object you want to remove. Ideally it’s a little more than the width of the object.
- Now slowly paint over the object you want to remove.
Next, we’ll repeat the same process with the part of the body in front of the water. We position our crosshair in the water in front of the body.
Finally we remove the feet. This time we place the crosshair behind the feet over the sand and slowly paint over the feet and the shadow in the sand. Voila, Mr. John Doe is gone.
To remove the last person, we’ll repeat the process as above. Don’t forget to remove the shadow of the person.
Now we have a wonderfully empty beach.
The line removal tool
But there’s more than those tools above. As the name suggests, I use the line removal tool to remove mainly disturbing power lines. Theoretically you can also use it to remove e.g. a rope that’s tied to a boat.
Using the tool is simple: →→
- Select the line removal tool in the lower toolbar.
- Make sure that line removal is selected (and not segment removal).
- Draw around the line that you want to remove. Touch Retouch will look for a line inside the area that you’ve selected and will remove any line.
However, if you remove e.g. power lines in front of buildings, zoom in and verify that the line remove tool did not accidently remove a part of your building. If it did, use the clone stamp tool to fix ist.
Touch Retouch is an easy and affordable app to remove unwanted objects from photos. In addition to the usual repair tools, the highlights of Touch Retouch App are the line removal tool, the mirroring mode for the clone stamp tool and the possibility to invoke it right from the iOS photos app.