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How to Remove Tattoos in Photoshop

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

If you want to learn how to remove tattoos in Photoshop, in this tutorial I'll show you how to do it without losing the detail of the skin. So if you're curious about how to Photoshop tattoos off, keep reading!

What You'll Learn in This Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to remove tattoos in Photoshop
  • How to Photoshop tattoos off
  • How to select a tattoo in Photoshop
  • How to use Photoshop content-aware tools to remove a tattoo from a photo

How to Remove a Tattoo in Photoshop

Step 1

Open your photo. If you want to use the same one as me, here's the photo of a man with tattoos that I used. Press Control-J to duplicate the photo.

open your photoopen your photoopen your photo

Step 2

Outline the tattoo roughly using the Lasso Tool (L).

outline the tattoooutline the tattoooutline the tattoo

Step 3

Add a Threshold adjustment layer. Drag the marker to cover the whole tattoo, while also avoiding capturing any of the shadows on the skin.

add thershold adjustmentadd thershold adjustmentadd thershold adjustment
adjust the thresholdadjust the thresholdadjust the threshold
darken the tattoodarken the tattoodarken the tattoo

Step 4

Hold the Control key and click the mask of the Threshold layer to create a selection. Then go to the Channels tab, hold the Control and Alt keys, and click the thumbnail of the first layer. This will create a selection of the tattoo only.

If the tattoo in your photo is colorful, or your model has dark skin, this method of selection might give you less satisfying results. So if this is the case for you, make sure to use manual selection tools to add the parts of the tattoo that Photoshop ignored—even at the cost of adding some untattooed skin to the selection.

make a selectionmake a selectionmake a selection
select the tattooselect the tattooselect the tattoo

Step 5

Hide or delete the Threshold layer. Go to Select > Modify > Expand and add a few pixels to make sure the whole tattoo has been included in the selection.

expand the selectionexpand the selectionexpand the selection
selection expandedselection expandedselection expanded

Step 6

If you notice any part of the skin being selected too (dark spots or hair), press Q to go into Quick Mask mode, and paint over them with black to remove them from the selection. When you're done, press Q again to exit the mode.

clean up the selectionclean up the selectionclean up the selection

Step 7

Go to Edit > Content Aware Fill. Paint over the selection to let Photoshop know which parts of the skin it's allowed to transfer to the removed tattoo. Set Output to Current Layer and press OK.

use content aware filluse content aware filluse content aware fill

Step 8

The tattoo has been removed, but the effect is not very convincing. Let's fix it! Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Experiment with the sliders until the blue tone of the removed tattoo disappears from the skin. Then Merge the adjustment layer with the layer below by pressing Control-E.

add a hue saturation layeradd a hue saturation layeradd a hue saturation layer
adjust hue saturationadjust hue saturationadjust hue saturation
remove blue from tattooremove blue from tattooremove blue from tattoo

Step 9

Now, here's the trickiest part. We need to bring back the texture and color of the remaining skin where the tattoo was removed. To do this, take the Healing Brush Tool (J). Hold the Alt key and click to load the brush with a part of the skin, and then click somewhere else to transfer that skin to that new area.

take the healing brush tooltake the healing brush tooltake the healing brush tool
use the healing brush tooluse the healing brush tooluse the healing brush tool

Step 10

Continue using this technique to cover the whole tattoo. Make sure there are no discolored areas left—they're the clearest sign of some kind of photo manipulation happening there. The Healing Brush tends to mix its color with the target area, so if you want to avoid that, you can use the Clone Stamp Tool (S) instead—it works the same way, but it just doesn't do the mixing.

remove the tattoo with the healing brushremove the tattoo with the healing brushremove the tattoo with the healing brush

Step 11

Once you're done, add a Layer Mask and paint over it with black/white to reveal the parts of the skin that weren't covered by the tattoo but have been affected by our modifications.

add a layer maskadd a layer maskadd a layer mask
layer mask addedlayer mask addedlayer mask added

Step 12

Now, zoom out, rotate the image, or flip it to refresh your perspective. Try to see if anything suspicious stands out and breaks the illusion—regular lines, repeating patterns, weird color areas, etc. If you find any of that, use the Healing Brush again to make the final result perfect.

clean up the final resultclean up the final resultclean up the final result

That's All!

And you're done! Now you know how to remove a tattoo from the skin in Photoshop!

remove tattoo final resultremove tattoo final resultremove tattoo final result

So you've learned how to remove a tattoo in Photoshop, but don't go yet! You may also enjoy our other Photoshop tutorials and courses:

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