How to Use the Photoshop Vanishing Point Tool

The Photoshop Vanishing Point tool is a relatively new arrival on the graphics editing scene. It is part of a new generation of "intelligent" tools, which use algorithms to determine three-dimensional elements of two-dimensional photos. Vanishing Point is a tool that determines a photo's perspective and allows you to make selections and move them along natural axes in the image itself.

To use Vanishing Point, you must have Photoshop CS2, CS3, or CS4. Vanishing Point is most useful when you need to clone one portion of an image to another while maintaining perspective (for instance, to remove an object by covering them which scenery or to create more subjects along a line.) It is much easier to use Vanishing Point than to continually drag and resize selections.

Here is a brief step-by-step guide to the Vanishing Point tool used to clone a portion of an image.

Step 1 - Define a Plane

Open your photo in Photoshop and select Filter > Vanishing Point... in the toolbar. This will load the Create Plane tool, in which you must select four points to serve as guidelines for the transformation. Photoshop will extrapolate, from these four points, the angle and direction of the axis. If it checks out, Photoshop will create a blue grid on top of the image if the four points follow a natural axis in the image. If they do not, Photoshop will show a red or yellow line, and you will move the four points until Photoshop accepts your axis.

You can define multiple planes if there is need to do so.

Step 2 - Make a Selection

Though you can use a stamp tool with Vanishing Point as well, we will consider the marquee tools for the purpose of this step of this tutorial. Select the Elliptical or Rectangular Marquee from the toolbar, and make a selection along the Vanishing Point axis. Now copy that selection and drag it in your desired direction along that line. This will move the selection while transforming it to fit the selected axis. Copy your selection along the perspective plane as many times as is needed.

Though freehand tools are outside of the scope of this tutorial, the pencil or brush tool can be used with Vanishing Point as well. Vanishing Point will distort your brush to the perspective of the selected axis. If you set your brush size to maximum and make one stroke across the axis from closest to farthest point, you will see the brush shrink as it moves farther away.

Step 3 - Correct the Appearance of the Photo

Moving a selection along a Vanishing Point perspective plane may leave some indications that the image is 'shopped: unnatural borders or uncanny edges. Use a Heal tool on the edges of the copied object or adjust the photo's feathering to make the photograph more realistic.

If there is still room for improvement, you can zoom in and use the clone stamp to clone pixels from elsewhere to the edges of the copied objects.

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