How to Remove People from Pictures in 2023: Removing People with Mocha and Silhouette

Avatar photo Marco Sebastiano Alessi | December 10, 2023

Removing unwanted people from pictures used to be a complicated and exhausting task that took photographers and artists plenty of resources and time. Before digital photography, the method required painting the subject or object out of the picture; some still use this method today, but it’s time-consuming and often used for artistic purposes more than as a daily task for visual effects artists and photographers.

The technique of painting a picture frame by frame is still used in digital photography. However, it’s immensely faster to do this with computer software and photo editors like Adobe Photoshop, Silhouette, and others, not to mention getting one of the free photo editing app that remove people from your mobile phone or the brand-new AI tools that offer background, people, and object removal with a simple click.

Today, you’ll learn how to remove people from pictures using software and plug-ins from Boris FX, which professional photographers, videographers or hobbyists alike can quickly learn to use thanks to its user-friendly interface. Whether it's a person you want to remove, a group of tourists, photo bombers in your precious memories, or a random passerby who obstructs the landscape you were shooting, you’ll be ready to tackle those obstacles and bring your creative vision to life.

But options with Boris FX plug-ins are close to endless, so I'll also discuss other things you can remove with our set of tools. All in all, you can use Mocha to remove anything unnecessary from your photos and videos, making it an all-in-one solution for all your creative needs.

Let’s dive in!

How to Remove People from Pictures with Mocha

Using Mocha to remove people from photos might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you need to remove a stranger from your family's vacation photo, especially with many photo-editing apps available. But you may be working on a project with both videos and photos and don’t have access to other apps, or you may simply want to use a professional tool that can also handle both photo and video editing.

Mocha Pro is one of the best planar tracking, rotoscoping, and object removal apps in the market right now. While Mocha AE is included in After Effects, Mocha Pro features advanced modules like Remove that allow you to remove people hassle-free. You can also work on the standalone app or use Mocha in most Continuum filters.

how to remove people from pictures

For this tutorial, I’ll show you how to apply a remover plug-in and use Mocha Pro to create accurate shapes to apply the filter in your photos. You’ll work with the Continuum effect BCC Remover and take advantage of the Mocha integration with the filter.

  • Step 1: Add BCC Remover to the Image

    Search for BCC Remover in your effects library and apply it to the clip with the picture. In your effects settings, choose Auto-Fill Smooth as a removal method. This will enable the pixel chooser settings and allow you to use Mocha. Go to Pixel Chooser Mocha and select On. Then, launch the Mocha UI.

  • Step 2: Masking in Mocha

    Mocha will import the picture to its interface. Select a spline tool to create a detailed shape. Sometimes, you will have more than one person to remove, which is why Mocha Pro allows you to add multiple shapes to the same layer. Use these features to remove a group of tourists or random people in your photo, creating individual shapes.

    When you finish, you can save and close Mocha. You don’t need to export any shapes because they will be automatically exported to your host when you close the Mocha UI.

  • Step 3: Adjust Auto-Fill Settings

    Back in your photo editing host, you should see that Auto-Fill has already been applied to the picture. You can make changes by going into the Auto Fill settings and adjusting the search radius to make the fill smoother.

  • Step 4. Apply Additional Filters

    When you feel the BCC Remover has done all you asked for but still see some imperfections, you can use more Continuum filters, such as blur or film grain, to give your photo the final touches.

    Even adding color correction can help you conceal some rough edges from the BCC Remover and Mocha masks.

Remove People from Photos with Silhouette

Silhouette is another tool by Boris FX that can help you remove people from photos and clean up pictures. You can use it as a photo editor in its standalone app or within your video editing tools. One of Silhouette's best features is its integration with Mocha and Sapphire plug-ins, meaning you can do all the work from Silhouette even if you don’t have a photo editing host.

  • Step 1: Import Your Picture and Create a New Project

    Open Silhouette and import the pictures with the person or object you want to remove. Go to File > Import and choose your photos.

    To create a new project, drag the photo from the source view to the Trees view. Name your session and select a template, or let Silhouette choose your best workspace. If you’re undecided, you can leave the default one.

  • Step 2: Add the InPaint Node

    In the Nodes view, use the search box and type InPaint. You can also find it under the Image category. Place the InPaint node between the source node and the output node, connecting the source node to the Foreground input on the InPaint node.

  • Step 3: Remove People

    If you’re familiar with rotoscoping tools and Mocha, you’ll notice that InPaint tools are quite similar, with shape forms and x-spline tools. Choose one tool and create a shape around the person or object you want to remove. As soon as you close the shape, you'll notice that the InPaint algorithm will start working.

    You can do several things if the default settings are not doing what you envisioned. Select the shape from the Object List to display the object settings. There, you can adjust blur, smoothness, and the edge of the mask. InPaint uses pixels around the shape to fill and erase people within the shape. You can modify the shape if you see something off with the result.

  • Step 4: Apply Sapphire Filters

    When you use the Silhouette standalone app, you can apply Sapphire filters to improve the look of your edited photo. You can access Blur, Sharpen, Lighting, Stylize, and other filters from the Sapphire suite. Remember that the order is essential when you add new nodes: sometimes, you might want them after or before the InPaint node to achieve different effects.

  • Step 5: Finalize Your Session

    Render your image or save the project to open it on any supported host. Keep in mind that any Sapphire node won’t be available in the plug-in version of Silhouette. But if you own Sapphire, you can add the filters on your editing host.

Top Ideas for Removing People from Your Photos

Here are some ideas of when you might need to remove people from your photos with Mocha Pro. While Adobe Photoshop Fix is still a great option for fixing minor imperfections and cleanup pictures if you use Photoshop, and using an online tool is also a valid option,Mocha Pro and Silhouette are versatile and professional photo retouch tools that can remove all sorts of unwanted objects and people effortlessly.

  • Remove Tourists from Photos

    It’s almost impossible to avoid tourists in your photos, especially in famous and open places like Times Square in New York, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, or the Louvre Museum. Especially for content creators and journalists, removing people is a must.

  • Remove People from a Landscape

    Landscape photos are great to show your family and friends. They don't need to be from the beach in Maui or the Maldives; sometimes, you only want to capture the vibe of your old town, but unwanted locals may be around, making your task challenging.

    If you want to remove a person walking in your shot from a video, Mocha's planar tracker will greatly help track the background and the person to remove it seamlessly.

  • Remove a Reflection from a Photo

    Reflections can appear in unexpected places, and with Mocha Pro, you can remove reflections from mirrors, windows, or flat surfaces like tables, mobile devices, and sunglasses. You can also remove shadows, for example, from a person or object that has been removed.

    Reflection can affect the quality of your photo if you remove the person but not their reflection. The Remove module from Mocha Pro provides you with illumination and blending modes to make the removal as smooth as possible. 

Other Things You Can Remove with Mocha

If you’re wondering what else Mocha can help you remove, here are some practical and creative ways to use it.

  • Remove Watermarks from a Photo

    If you forgot to remove the watermark from your mobile device camera, you can remove it with Mocha. Choose the area with the watermark, mask it, and track it with Mocha to remove it. Keep in mind that some watermarks prevent illegal uses of the image. Use your own photos and videos when removing watermarks with Mocha to avoid legal issues.

  • Remove Blemishes from Photos

    Don’t you hate it when you take a photo that seems like the perfect shot but it has some blemishes? In Mocha, you can remove imperfections as easily as removing people from photos.

  • Remove Background from Photos

    Mocha makes background removal easier, whether you need it for creative projects, professional design, or just for fun. It helps you streamline the masking and tracking process. Then, you can use any keying plug-in to replace the background with a different one.

    Furthermore, Mocha is exceptional when removing backgrounds from a video because it reduces the rotoscoping process.

  • Remove Screens

    Like with background removal, Mocha makes it easier to remove what’s on a TV screen, monitor, mobile device, or other flat surface such as posters, signs, or even graffiti and replace it with another photo. Forget about publishing a photo online with something on your screen that should not be seen, and fix it before everyone else sees it.

  • Remove Wires

    If you work in the visual effects department, chances are you'll spend most of your time removing wires from actors. Mocha Pro's Remove module makes this job faster by allowing you to quickly remove wires from an action scene, track the background, or create clean mega plates to increase productivity.

  • Remove Unwanted Objects

    Have you ever taken a picture at a plaza or amusement park only to discover that a sign, a garbage can, or an object was in the way? Upload your photo on Mocha, and you can easily remove unwanted objects from your photos.

  • Remove Logos and Texts

    Maybe you ask your friends to shoot something together wearing the same color, but someone arrives wearing a shirt with a big logo. You can also use Mocha Pro to remove text from a shirt or any unnecessary object in your picture.

  • Remove People from Video

    To remove people from video footage, you only need to add the tracking process to the above steps. The complete process is outlined in this guide.

Final Words

Removing unwanted people from your photos no longer requires hours of painting the photo pixel by pixel, and you don’t need to be a professional photographer, either.

I hope you’ve learned how to remove people from photos and how tools like Mocha can make the process easier to remove unnecessary objects. Mocha is an innovative yet advanced tool, and once you know how to use it, it’ll help you bring all your creative projects to life.

Download Mocha Pro and get a trial period of 14 days to explore all the features in the Pro version and get professional results.

Good luck!