How To Use Generative Remove In Lightroom Classic

by Andrew S. Gibson
How To Use Generative Remove In Lightroom Classic

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Adobe has just added Generative Remove to Lightroom Classic (the 13.3 May 2024 update). This new tool is powered by Adobe Firefly generative AI, using artificial intelligence to remove distracting elements and objects from your photos. It’s a huge improvement over the Healing tool and gives much better results. Plus, you can now remove unwanted objects from your photos in Lightroom Classic without having to send your photo over to Photoshop, so it’s a big win for workflow. Let’s take a look at the details.

The first thing to note is that Adobe has renamed the Healing tool to the Remove tool and given it a new icon in the Toolstrip (the line of icons under the Histogram in the Develop module).

Remove icon Lightroom Classic Toolstrip

The Remove panel has three options accessed by clicking the Mode icons – Remove, Heal and Clone. All three were available before the update, but they’ve now been updated.

With Heal and Clone, Adobe has moved the Visualize Spots slider from the Toolstrip to the Remove panel, making it easier to access.

Visualize Spots in Lightroom Classic

Click Remove and you’ll see the following updated panel.

Generative Remove panel

1. The Generative AI box. Check it to enable the AI part of Generative Remove. Otherwise Lightroom tries to remove the masked object without using AI. This is the Content Aware Remove that previous versions of Lightroom Classic had. It’s still good for removing small objects from your photos, so don’t ignore it.

2. The Object Aware box. Check it to tell Lightroom to use AI to find the outline of the masked object. Lightroom automatically refines the mask, making it bigger than the selected object to give the best result.

3. Size and Opacity sliders. Adjust the Size and Opacity of the masking brush (you can also use the ‘[‘ and ‘]’ keyboard shorcuts to make the brush smaller or bigger).

4. The Tool Overlay menu. Set it to Auto, Always, Selected or Never depending on whether you want to see the mask outline and pin icon. The screenshot below shows the pin icon and the outline that represent a Generative Remove mask.

Generative Remove

5. The Visualise Spots checkbox.

There’s also an option to provide Adobe with feedback about your experience with Generative Remove. It’s here because Generative Remove is an early access feature. The tool is in development and Adobe will take user feedback to improve it.

Using Generative Remove

The new tool is easy to use.

1. Click the Remove icon in the Toolstrip or use the Q keyboard shortcut.

2. Set Mode to Remove and check the Generative AI box.

Remove panel Lightroom Classic

3. Brush over the object you want to remove to create a mask (shown below in red). The mask needs to be slightly larger than the object.

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

4. You get the option to refine the mask you just created.

Remove panel Lightroom Classic

5. Click Apply when you’re ready to go. Lightroom Classic does the rest. Don’t like what you see? Click the arrows to cycle through three variations, or Refresh to give it another try.

Remove panel Lightroom Classic

Here’s the result from my example.

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

6. Be prepared for some whacky results. It doesn’t work perfectly all the time. Below you can see an example where it chose to replace a street sign with, well, whatever that thing on the post is.

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

The reason I got this result was because I selected the sign, but not the post (you can see the mask in the screenshot below). When you mask part of an object, the AI goes into replacement mode (as opposed to remove) and creates imagery to replace the masked area with something that matches the unmasked part of the object.

Generative Remove AI

Get ready to experiment and see where it works and where it doesn’t.

Generative Remove in action

Now it’s time to take a look at Generative Remove in action. You can use it to remove just about anything from a photo.

Generative Remove example 1

Here’s a photo of an old sign.

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

This is what happened when I used the Heal tool to try and remove the Pepsi-Cola icon. It’s not a bad attempt but it’s never going to convince anybody.

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

This is the result with the Remove tool set to Generative AI. Better, but not perfect. It would have been helpful if the AI hadn’t tried to include letters.

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

But then I took it a step further and tried it again on the letters. This is the result.

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

Perfect! Here’s a screenshot showing the before (left) and after (right) at 100%. Most people would be convinced by that.

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

Generative Remove example 2

How about something more complex, like the bike in the photo below?

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

This is the mask.

Generative Remove

Here’s the result. No problem at all!

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

Here’s a close-up so you can see how well it worked.

Generative Remove Lightroom Classic

Generative Remove tips

These tips will help you get better results from Generative Remove.

  • The largest size that the tool can generate is 1024×1024 pixels. This is great for smaller objects, but the AI generated background in your photos may look a little soft when removing larger objects.
  • For the best results, select the entire object to be removed including its shadow.
  • Use Generative Remove before cropping. If you mask an object that’s partly in the cropped part of the photo, then the AI knows it’s there and generates replacement imagery rather than removing it.
  • Use Generative Remove before any AI based masking. For photos with AI masks in place, you may have to update the AI masks for Generative Remove to work properly. If this is the case, you’ll see a red dot under the Masking icon in the Toolstrip. Click the three dot (ellipse) icon next to any mask and select Update AI Masks from the menu.
  • If you mask different parts of the photo (see below screenshot) Lightroom creates a separate Generative Remove mask for each one. Click on the individual masks to see the matching variations.
Generative Remove
  • You can copy and paste Generative Remove masks. This is useful if you have several similar images and would like to remove the same unwanted object from each one. To use this feature click the Copy button under the left-hand panels. In the Copy Settings window click Check None then check the Remove box and click Copy (see below). Then go to another photo and click the Paste button. Note the mask doesn’t auto update – this lets you move it around in case there’s a difference between the photos. It updates after you move it.
Generative Remove
  • Generative Remove also works with the Sync… and Auto-Sync buttons under the right-hand panels for batch processing (select the photos in the Filmstrip first).

What you need to know about Generative Remove

Here are a few more things that are good to know about Generative Remove.

  • Generative Remove uses AI, which means you need an internet connection for it to work.
  • Generative Remove is designed for the removal of complex objects from the photo that the Heal or Content Aware Remove tools can’t deal with. Generative AI is marginally slower and will probably use Firefly credits once it’s out of Early Access. Neither of these is a big deal – at the moment all running out of AI credits means is that the tool may run more slowly as you don’t have priority access to Adobe’s servers.
  • Just to re-emphasize, this is a tool that’s in development. Expect it to get better with future updates.

That said, it’s a powerful tool and a great way to bring old photos back to life that you aren’t happy with because there are distracting elements or too much clutter.

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