Today’s Question: Is the new Remove tool in Photoshop effectively a replacement for the Spot Healing Brush tool? Does it do a better job in most cases?
Tim’s Quick Answer: While the Remove tool shows promise based on artificial intelligence (AI) technology, in general I find you can get better results for image cleanup with the Spot Healing Brush tool or the Content-Aware Fill command.
More Detail: In general, the new Remove tool in Photoshop does a good job when it comes to image cleanup work. You simply paint over the object you want to remove, and the object is removed automatically, replaced with new pixels based on an analysis of the surrounding area of the image. Similar to the Generative Fill command, with the Remove tool new pixels may be created that are not directly related to the specific contents of the image.
However, while the Remove tool is impressive in general, I have found that it is much more likely than other tools to create obviously visible artifacts in the image. This can result in duplicative textures that stand out as areas that have clearly been modified, or odd duplications of shapes from other areas of the image that also stand out as not looking right.
While the Spot Healing Brush tool (set to the Content-Aware option) or the Content-Aware Fill command aren’t perfect, in general I do find that they provide good results with far less risk of obvious artifacts in the image when compared to the Remove tool.
To be fair, the Remove tool is the newest image-cleanup tool in Photoshop, and so it is the tool that is most likely to see improvements in the near term. I do think the Remove tool is capable of very good results, and it is worth trying with some images. However, I also recommend scrutinizing the results achieved with the Remove tool (or really with any of the image cleanup tools), so you will be sure to catch any problems that are created in terms of artifacts that need to be resolved. You can then either undo the work done with the Remove tool and try a different tool, or mix-and-match two or more tools to refine the image cleanup work to achieve a better result.