Removing Pesky Wires/Lines in Photoshop

Another question that came up in my Basic Photoshop Workshops recently was “how can I get rid of electric/telephone wires in a photograph?” Using my powerful skills of perception and intuition, I decided that it would make a good topic for today’s blog entry!

As always, we will start with the assumption that you have already launched Photoshop, and that you know your way around Photoshop on a basic level. If you don’t, you should sign up for my Basic Photoshop Workshop.

The first thing we need to do is open the photo you want to change. (File>Open, or Ctrl+O in Windows or Cmd+O for Mac).

Wire Removal One

Wire Removal Two

This photo is interesting, but the telephone pole and wires associated with it are distracting me, so they must go.

Wire Removal Three

The tool we will use for this magical transformation is the Spot Healing Brush Tool. On the Tool Panel it looks like a band aid with a dotted semi-circle, as shown in the above screen shot.

Wire Removal Four

The key for this tool is the Heal with Content-Aware Fill selection at the top (see screen shot above). Using this option will tell Photoshop to make a guess at the background once something is removed. It generally does a decent job, to be honest.

Wire Removal Five

I’ve zoomed in here, to make my work on these wires a little easier. To do that, just hold down the Ctrl button (Cmd on Mac) and use the + key.

Wire Removal Six

In the above screen shot I have started the removal process. I sized my pointer to sort of match the wires diameter (actually just a bit larger, to make sure I get all of it) using the brackets keys ([ and ]). You can either click and drag the mouse pointer over the wires, or, like I have done here, use a trick to make sure your line follows the wire. All you have to do is first click on a starting position (in this case butted up against the Phillips 66 sign), and then, while holding down the shift key, click the end point (right next to the telephone pole). Photoshop will then connect the two for you, as shown above. When you lift your finger off of the mouse button the wire should simply go bye-bye.

Wire Removal Seven

Continue to do the same for all the wires in your photo, making sure to take a careful look around your photo for any orphan wires that may have escaped your inspection (like the ones around the gas pump in this photo).

Wire Removal Eight

Wires are all gone now. Let’s get rid of that pesky eyesore of a telephone pole now, using the same technique (making sure to resize the mouse pointer).

Wire Removal Nine

Ahh, much better and much more aesthetically pleasing. I can sleep soundly tonight now.

Wire Removal Ten

Don’t forget to save your masterpiece, so you can share it with family and friends alike and amaze them with your Photoshop prowess!

One last thing. Sometimes you will have some difficult lines or wires to remove. I’d suggest trying to fix smaller chunks. That has usually worked for me.


Steve Holsonback
Instructional Media Design Specialist
Center for Academic & Professional Excellence
Ext. 3425



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