So as many of you know, I use Xara Designer Pro 9 as my graphics application of choice - for maps, illustrations, some image editing and graphic design work. I recently upgraded to version 9, and as many software applications when the new version comes out, there are often new tools that never existed in previous versions. One cool recently added tool to Xara Designer Pro is the Magic Erase Tool. If you understand the process of removing elements from a photograph through using a Cloner Brush to copy other areas of a photograph to 'paint out' the existence of an unwanted element in an existing photo. The Magic Erase Tool is essentially that time consuming process done automatically using a kind of AI in applying the right areas elsewhere on the photo for paint replacment.
I don't really know how applicable this process is for cartography - maybe removing landforms for a flattened photoshop file that no longer has layers and you want to remove a mountain range or river to redo it, but you want a natural transitioned graphic in post removal. That's about the only instance I could see this applying to cartography, otherwise its mostly a photo-editing process.
I just picked up a small (low paying) image-editing/illustration job for a college student in Kansas, a classical music major working on his first big project and it requires the inclusion of a website and album cover design. Apparently he couldn't find a fellow student with the skills necessary for his issue. In the photo below, a girl plucking a leaf off an otherwise leafless tree is the goal. The girl is the student's daughter. The leaf a separate image, and the background image of the misty terrain and the deadtree is what I am working with. My goal is to replace that tree with another that has the leaf at the end of a limb and a different more emotive tree in it's place.
The process is simple. I open the photo in Xara. I select the photo (so handles appear on it), then I select the Magic Erase Tool from the toolbar. Next I create a rough mask around the element I want to remove - when I say rough, there's about 20-ish pixels distance from the edge of the mask and the element I want to actually remove, so its quick and easy. Once the mask is drawn, I hit the Magic Erase button and that's it - it's done. And the results are fantastic. The image used was especially difficult in that the background is misty with soft gradations that aren't necessarily linear. To clone this using standard techniques it would be both time consuming and problematic. Normally its not an easy image to work with in order to achieve the intended results - normally, that is. With Xara normal issues don't exist.
Anyway, the 2 photos posted below are before and after using the Magic Erase Tool.
I have yet to create the replacement tree, I just wanted to show the tool in action is all...
(I was amazed at the results, and why I posted this thread...)