The Google Pixel 6A camouflage tool makes Magic Eraser much better

The Google Pixel 6A camouflage tool makes Magic Eraser much better

Google’s clever Magic Eraser tool debuted on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. It’s an editing feature designed to remove people or objects you don’t want in the background of your photos. Considering it’s pretty easy to use, the results are okay, but it definitely won’t put Adobe out of business anytime soon. But with the Pixel 6A — and coming soon to the 6 and 6 Pro — Google has added a new Magic Eraser feature that I like a lot more than the default eraser: Camouflage. It’s just as easy to use and the results are much more consistent.

Magic Eraser works a bit like Photoshop’s content-aware fill. You make a selection and it uses information from the surrounding image to remove the unwanted subject and fill in the area. With certain subjects, especially if they are isolated from other objects in your image, it works quite well. Given that most images are displayed on (relatively) small screens these days, the results look acceptable. However, if the object you want to remove overlaps other elements in the image, the final image will not look as good. It’s harder for the system to make a good guess about how to fill in the space that’s left, and it can create some weird artifacts that are even more of a distraction.

The purple pram is not a good candidate for Erase as my subject overlaps it and the background is busy.

Changing it to gray will make it less distracting.

That’s where camouflage is a great option. Instead of trying to remove the unwanted object completely, the tool desaturates it to make it less distracting. It is perfect for, for example, a light purple pram behind your subject. Using Magic Eraser will make trying to clone it out of existence a mess, but Camouflage will do just enough to make it less of a distraction.

I often shoot in portrait mode for basically the same reason Magic Eraser exists: to bring attention to my subject and blur things in the background. But especially with a portrait mode, I don’t necessarily want to remove anything that’s in the background, since it’s already blurred to partially reduce the distraction. Additionally, it can be something that adds context to my image. Desaturating a colorful object behind my subject helps keep the attention where I want it, without losing that context or introducing other distracting artifacts.

The turquoise stool is a little distracting in the background.

It’s not perfect, but camouflaging it makes it a little less of a distraction to the overall picture.

Google spokesperson Matt Flegal says the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will get the Camouflage tool on July 28, the same day the Pixel 6A goes on sale.

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