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Develop module Removing disconnected objects: Select everything, then Subtract


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The guidance provided by Adobe and the Lightroom Queen article on Generative Remove states the need to "Select the entire object/person, including ... any disconnected parts (such as a hand on someone else’s shoulder). " If you don't select the entire object or person, Remove is amazingly clever at generating something that best matches the remaining parts, which we perceive as "replacing" rather than "removing".

But there's a gotcha in the current Lightroom Classic user interface, and selecting an object with disconnected brush strokes makes it more likely Remove will "replace" rather than "remove". To avoid the gotcha, follow this rule:

Select all of the disconnected parts with a single set of connected brush strokes, then refine with Subtract to remove the unwanted parts from the selection.

Gory Details

When you add a refining brush stroke more than a very small distance away from the first stroke, LR Classic (but not LR Desktop) treats it as a separate selection (with its own pin), and the remove algorithm runs on the two selections separately, not as a single unit. This makes it more likely that each generated replacement will be "replacing" rather than "removing".

In this example (motivated by a post in the feedback thread), I want to remove the deck railings, so I select the railings on the left and then on the right, with two different brush strokes:

Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 11.56.57 AM.jpg

After clicking Apply, Remove treats the disconnected brush strokes as two separate selections, each with its own pin:

Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 11.57.45 AM.jpg

Remove has generated a replacement for the two selections separately. When it generates the first replacement, it matches the remaining railing in the second selection, and when it generates the second replacement, it matches the first selection (or its replacement). As a result, it generates new variants of the railing. When you select one of the pins and click Variations, you see variants for just that selection (and all of the variants are railings).

Thus, you need to select the entire railing with one connected brush stroke:

Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 12.13.10 PM.jpg

That successfully "removes" the railing but generates a funky brass door handle:

Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 12.15.29 PM.jpg

So to prevent Remove from modifying the wood divider with a door handle, refine with a Subtract brush to remove the divider from the selection:

Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 12.23.10 PM.jpg

LR still treats this as a single selection, even though it's visually indistinguishable from two separate brush strokes. With this single selection, Remove successfully removes the railing without modifying the wood divider:

Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 12.26.46 PM.jpg

Here's another example, where I want to do a Stalinist airbrushing away of a disfavored family member. If you make three disconnected brush strokes to select the different parts of the person, you end up with another person generated as the replacement:

Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 12.40.09 PM.jpg
Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 12.41.11 PM.jpg

(Note that the lower-right small brush stroke is sufficiently close to the larger brush stroke that LR considers the two to be one selection, whereas the left brush stroke is considered a separate selection/pin.)

But if you select all the parts of the person you want removed with connected brush strokes and then do a refining Subtract to deselect the parts that shouldn't be removed, the results are surprisingly good:

Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 12.43.38 PM.jpg
Screenshot 2024-07-10 at 12.44.15 PM.jpg

Regarding this surprising behavior of refining brush strokes, Adobe employee Rikk Flohr says, "Lightroom Desktop and Lightroom Classic behave differently in this regard and that both behaviors are being evaluated while the feature is in Early Access. "
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Excellent examples John, I’ll update the post to link to this tomorrow