Before you scroll down and read the complete article, ask yourself a simple question. When it comes to photos and photo editing software, what is the one use which runs the show? Oh, there is a second question too – what could be the simplest way to do it?
The answer to the first question could be – removing unwanted elements like a dustbin in the background; overhead power lines; remove copyright information; and the old favorite, touching up facial blemishes, or even be photo-bombed by a stray cat. If that’s the case, the answer to the second should definitely be Inpaint, a photo restoration software developed by Maxim Gapchenko. Photoshop virtuosos who can work their magic with the clone tools, know what a mask and content fill is will probably appreciate the labor it takes to touch up a photo.
Inpaint flattens out the learning curve while helping you to keep your savings from bottoming out. It costs only $19.99 and comes for both Windows and Mac. There is also a feature limited demo-version. We are talking about the Windows version here.
The Simple Face of a Simple Tool
Apart from the peculiarity of disallowing the corner dragging and reducing the interface, Inpaint offers an uncomplicated Plain Jane appearance. All you can see is a red marker dot floating about with your mouse movements. You can drag ‘n drop an image or load it from the File dialog. The Inpaint toolbar menu activates to display the lineup of photo retouching tools that you have at your beck and call. Even before you start the job of removing the undesirables from the photo, use the Zoom tools to fit the image in the Inpaint window. You can zoom in and out as you see fit.
To remove the unwanted parts of a photo, Inpaint follows the masking principle that Photoshop users will be familiar with. The Marker tool (the red dot with the crosshairs) is the tool for most of the jobs. You can make the marker tip larger or smaller according to the area you want to remove. You can also zoom in on the image itself if you want to retouch a tiny area on let’s say, a face. After you have masked the area (the cable in the picture below), all you need to do is click the playhead like Inpaint button.
Viola! The wires are gone, and the photo of the church looks neater.
Of course, it is not Houdini’s disappearing act. Inpaint carefully approximates the pixels that surround the masked area and seamlessly fills the mask to make an element in the photo ‘disappear’. . You might notice the rectangle that comes with the masking. Inpaint calls it the ‘Donor Area’. It is the area (or rather the pixels) that is used as a content fill by the program. The eight handles give you precise control over the replacement fill and what gets removed from the photo. This comes handy when you need to remove a single person from a group photograph.
Beyond The Basics – The Three Other Retouching Tools
The Marker tool starts off things very well. But there are three more retouching tools you can call on depending on the subject.
The Magic Wand tool automatically selects an area based on color values and the kind of tolerance (i.e. It determines how closely colors will be matched). As this Inpaint tutorial demonstrates, Magic Wand is just the feature to use when you want to add something to a photo. For e.g. to remove distortions in a panorama or to select watermarks in one click.
The Multi View feature on Inpaint allows you to blend different areas of two or more pictures to produce a single composite image. As this Inpaint tutorial illustrates, it can be extremely useful for bringing together two busy scenes and removing the unwanted elements to create a final perfect image.
The Guide Lines tool is for those complicated images where the object you want to remove has two different kinds of background i.e. the background has different color textures. The tool allows you to demarcate these areas and then let Inpaint restore the edges around the marked areas. This Inpaint tutorial demonstrates how Guide Lines can make quick and easy work of photos with varying backgrounds too.
Different kinds of photo restoration jobs and just four tools packaged in a simple interface. But let’s not underestimate the usefulness of this photo editing tool. Inpaint ably covers the bases – from removing date stamps to retouching old photos. And what could take you the better part of an hour in a more advanced photo editor, Inpaint does it with a mask and a click. Ultimately, Inpaint is about productivity and with surgeon-like application, even power users should appreciate the end results. The Inpaint website shows you the easy way to fix your photos with detailed tutorials and video walkthroughs.
Give Inpaint a good run with your worst photos and tell us if it’s a keeper for those photo-bombed moments.