Clean Up With The Healing Brush Tools

Clean up minor blemishes, dust spots, stray hairs and more with the Healing Brush tools.

Even with a modern digital camera, your photos may have slight imperfections. Maybe it’s just a stray hair or an unwelcome skin blemish in a portrait, or maybe some dust has managed to get onto your sensor, causing dark spots on your photos.

Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to remove some small features from your images, and the best tools for this are the Healing tools. There are five healing tools in Photoshop, which you can see if you click and hold on the Spot Healing Brush tool icon in the tool palette.

Healing Brush Tool

The Healing Brush is a legacy from older versions of Photoshop. It does much the same job as the Spot Healing Brush, but is rather less sophisticated. It works in much the same way as the Clone Stamp tool.

To heal a blemish, you first need to set a sample point by clicking on an area of similar texture while holding down the Alt key, then painting the sample over the blemish.

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Content-Aware Move

The Content Aware Move tool was introduced in Photoshop CS6. The idea is that you can simply draw a selection around an object and then drag it to another place. The program analyses the surrounding area and fills in the source with a matching texture.

In practice the Content Aware Move tool is only useful in very specific circumstances, when the object you want to move is surrounded by a uniform texture. You will find that the more even the texture, the better the final result.

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Patch Tool

The Patch tool is used for repairing larger areas. It can be used in one of two ways; either draw around the area you want to replace and then drag the sample to an area of matching clean texture, or sample an area of clean texture and then drag it over the part you want to replace.

Here, a patch of blue sky can be used to remove people from a beach.

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Red Eye Tool

Red Eye is caused by light from a camera flash reflecting off the blood vessels at the back of the eye when the pupil is wide open. It’s possible to avoid it by proper camera technique, but if you find it in one of your portraits, Photoshop has a quick and easy tool to help remove it.

Simply click on the offending redness and the tool will automatically remove it and replace it with a more natural-looking tone.

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Spot Healing Brush Tool

For removing small objects such as dust spots and stray hairs, the Spot Healing Brush is the most useful and effective tool at your disposal. In some cases, you can even remove larger objects such as people.

When you use it to paint over an object, the brush samples the area around it and replaces the object with a simulation of the background. The way that it samples can be selected, but by far the most effective option is Content Aware sampling. The brush parameters can be adjusted in exactly the same way as any other brush.

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Mark Frost

Mark started work as a commercial artist during the good old days of Letraset, spray mount and having to process your photos at a local chemist. Having discovered his passion for photography, Photoshop and the wonders of digital image manipulation, he has not looked back. He is well on his way to owning more cameras than he’s had hot dinners.

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