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How to Remove Stars in Photoshop

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this Photoshop star removal tutorial, you'll learn how to remove stars from an image in Adobe Photoshop. I'll walk you through the process and show you how to create an action in Photoshop so you can make this magic happen with just a few clicks of a button.

Astro Photography Lightroom PresetsAstro Photography Lightroom PresetsAstro Photography Lightroom Presets

Are you looking for other stars Photoshop actions and resources? Check out this kit of Astro Photography Lightroom Presets to quickly transform your night sky photos. Be sure to check out the massive library of PSD actions and other design resources available on Envato Elements.

What You'll Learn in This Photoshop Star Removal Tutorial

  • How to detect and select the stars in the image
  • How to refine a selection for seamless editing in Photoshop
  • How to remove stars in Photoshop without trace artifacts
  • How to create a Photoshop action to recreate this process

What You'll Need

To begin this process, you will need:

1. How to Start Removing Stars in Photoshop

Step 1

First, open your image in Photoshop.

Open Image in PhotoshopOpen Image in PhotoshopOpen Image in Photoshop
Orion Nebula - Photo by rwittich on Envato Elements

Step 2

You'll want to Duplicate your Background layer so that you're not editing the original file. Go to Layer > Duplicate Layer or use the shortcut Control-J.

2. How to Detect and Select Stars in Photoshop

Step 1

Here we're going to use the power of the Color Range tool in Photoshop to detect the stars and make a selection in our image. Go to Select > Color Range to open this adjustment.

Color Range AdjustmentColor Range AdjustmentColor Range Adjustment

Step 2

Because the stars are so bright, they'll fall into the highlights of this image. In Color Range, select the Highlights. You'll want to play around with both the Fuzziness and Range sliders until you see that only the stars are being selected. Don't worry about also selecting the nebula at this stage.

I found a Fuzziness of 55% and a Range of 122 to work well. Click OK.

Highlights Selected in PhotoshopHighlights Selected in PhotoshopHighlights Selected in Photoshop

You'll now see the selected pixels on your screen. This is displaying the highlights that Photoshop has detected and has now made into a selection.

3. How to Refine a Selection for Seamless Editing in Photoshop

Step 1

Zoom in to 300% or 400% to see the details of your selection. You'll notice the highlights are selected, but there are little rings around them that aren't selected.

300% Zoom of our Selected Highlights300% Zoom of our Selected Highlights300% Zoom of our Selected Highlights
300% Zoom of our Highlights selection

Step 2

We'll need to Expand our selection to make sure everything is included to make a seamless edit. Go to Select > Modify > Expand. Try expanding by 4 pixels.

Expand Adjustment in PhotoshopExpand Adjustment in PhotoshopExpand Adjustment in Photoshop

Step 3

Finally, we'll need to soften our selection so that we can easily blend our edits. Go to Select > Modify > Feather, and Feather your selection by half of your previously expanded value—so in this case, 2 pixels.

Feather Adjustment in PhotoshopFeather Adjustment in PhotoshopFeather Adjustment in Photoshop

Your screen should now be full of marching ants! This is a good sign, but it can be a bit distracting as you proceed. Let's keep your highlights selected but hide the selection from view by going to View > Extras or using the shortcut Control-H.

The entire Selection in PhotoshopThe entire Selection in PhotoshopThe entire Selection in Photoshop

4. How to Remove Stars in Photoshop Without Trace Artifacts

Step 1

Go to Filter > Other > Minimum. Choose a Radius between 1 and 2 pixels. I've gone with 1.5 pixels for this image. Be sure to select Preserve: Roundness.

Minimum Adjustment in PhotoshopMinimum Adjustment in PhotoshopMinimum Adjustment in Photoshop

Because the star selection was so accurate, this one step has already made a huge improvement to the image!

Step 2

Go to Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches. Choose a Radius of 8 and a Threshold of 10. This will help to get rid of many of the remaining stars and to smooth over our edit.

Dust & Scratches Adjustment in PhotoshopDust & Scratches Adjustment in PhotoshopDust & Scratches Adjustment in Photoshop

Just like that, we've removed well over 90% of the stars from our image!

Step 3

Removing the final few stars will require a bit of manual elbow grease. I like the Healing Brush for this job.

Deselect your selection by going to Select > Deselect or pressing Control-D. Select the Healing Brush (J) from the toolbar. Select a Brush slightly bigger than the biggest star on screen, and set the Brush Hardness to 0.

Zoom in to 100%. Take a Sample just beside a star, and then click on the star to heal it away. Repeat this process for all the remaining stars.

Before Healing Brush -- After Healing Brush

5. How to Make an Action to Remove Stars in Photoshop

Step 1

Let's make an action for this process so we can replicate these edits with ease. Go to Window > Actions to open the Actions tab. Click the + to create a New Action. Name your action accordingly, for example "Remove Stars".

Create New ActionCreate New ActionCreate New Action
Create New Action

Step 2

After naming your action, Photoshop will engage the Record function. This means that whatever you do to your image now will be recorded for future recall.

Create a New Layer and then begin the steps in this tutorial, starting at Step 2 - How to Detect and Select Stars in Photoshop. Make all of the adjustments up to and including the Dust & Scratches adjustment.

Step 3

With all of the adjustments made, click the Stop button to stop the action from being recorded in Photoshop.

Stop Button for ActionsStop Button for ActionsStop Button for Actions
Stop Button for Actions

You've Done It!

Not only have you learned how to remove hundreds of stars from a photo, but you've also created a Photoshop action that will do 90% of the work for you the next time with the click of a button.

5 Great Resources From Envato Elements

Curious about what other actions and resources might be a gigantic time-saver? Check out this list available from Envato Elements and start getting results fast!

1. Space Action for Photoshop (ABR, ATN)

Space Action for Photoshop (ABR, ATN)Space Action for Photoshop (ABR, ATN)Space Action for Photoshop (ABR, ATN)

If you're looking to add stars or play with the night sky on your computer, this Space and Stars Photoshop action is for you. Quickly create backgrounds, textures, shapes, and photo effects with this amazing stars Photoshop kit!

2. Sky Replacer Photoshop Action (PSD)

Sky Replacer Photoshop ActionSky Replacer Photoshop ActionSky Replacer Photoshop Action

Replace skies in Photoshop quickly and easily! This Sky Replacer Action makes it easy to replace a sky. It works best on photos where there is a large difference between the sky and other objects.

3. Cloudy Skies (PSD)

cloudy skiescloudy skiescloudy skies

Try this collection of 30 cloudy sky overlays to improve your image by making your subject stand out and creating more emotion in your photo.

4. Night Sky Lightroom Presets (LRTEMPLATE)

Night Sky Lightroom Presets (LRTEMPLATE)Night Sky Lightroom Presets (LRTEMPLATE)Night Sky Lightroom Presets (LRTEMPLATE)

Photoshop is not the only software you can use to play with the night sky. You can also use presets for Lightroom, like this cool pack of 11 night sky presets.

5. Galaxy Deluxe Edition For Mobile and Desktop (XMP, DNG)

Galaxy Deluxe Edition For Mobile and Desktop (XMP, DNG)Galaxy Deluxe Edition For Mobile and Desktop (XMP, DNG)Galaxy Deluxe Edition For Mobile and Desktop (XMP, DNG)

Galaxy Deluxe is another fantastic kit for nocturnal pictures. This kit for Lightroom will make your astrophotography really pop. Get two presets for mobile and two for desktop.

Discover More Awesome Photoshop Tutorials and Resources

I hope you liked this Photoshop star removal tutorial. If you're hungry for more cool resources, definitely check these out!

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