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As you spend more and more time improving the appearance of your photos, you'll likely find that you start to have a more critical eye for the details within the photos. And that can mean you'll notice more and more objects that you'd like to clean up, blemishes that you'd like to remove. For example, in this photo of a sunset in Hawaii. I like that I've got a gentleman in the foreground silhouetted, and some boats back on the horizon, some interesting clouds. But I'd just as soon not have the kids playing in the water, and I'd like to remove those elements from the photo to create a cleaner composition.
For that purpose, I think you'll find nothing faster than the Spot Healing brush tool. I'll go ahead and choose the Spot Healing Brush tool from the toolbox. It's important to keep in mind that there is a regular Healing Brush tool that requires you to choose a source of pixels as well as the Spot Healing Brush tool. I recommend using the Spot Healing Brush tool because it allows you to work in a much simpler fashion. It also offers the content aware option which is not available for the Healing Brush tool. So, I'll make sure that I have my Spot Healing Brush tool selected and then set the option on the options bar to content aware.
If I'm working with a photo that has multiple layers. Such as would be the case in a composite, then I'll probably want to turn on the Sample All Layers checkbox. So that the image will be sampled based on it's overall appearance, taking all layers into account. In this case, I have just a background image layer, so I don't need to worry about the Sample All Layers setting. Therefore the only thing I really ned to concern myself with is making sure that the Content Aware option is set. That will give us the most accurate clean up possible using Photoshop Elements.
I'll then move my mouse out over the image and adjust the size of the brush using the left and right Square Bracket keys. The left Square Bracket allows you to reduce the size of the brush. And the right Square Bracket allows you to increase the size of the brush. Generally speaking, you'll want to use a brush size that is just a little bit larger then the object your trying to clean up. Unless that object is especially large. And then you may need to work in small sessions. I'll go ahead and zoom in just a little bit, so that we can get a better look at the area we're cleaning up. I'll do that by holding the Control and Space Bar keys at the same time on Windows or the Command and Space Bar keys at the same time on MacIntosh and then click and drag to define the area that I'd like to get a closer look at. When I release the mouse, that area will be zoomed in. I can also pan around the image by holding the Space Bar key, and clicking and dragging on the photo.
I'll then adjust the size of the brush. Making sure it's just a little bit larger, or about the same size as the object that I'm trying to clean up the boy playing in the water here. And then I'll click and drag over that area that needs to be cleaned up. Notice that I get a dark overlay on this area, that is how I can see exactly where I've painted. So I can be sure that I've painted over the entire blemish. I'll go ahead and release the mouse and elements will process that area. You can see we've got some bright spots here so I'll click and paint over that area once again to give it another pass. Then I can adjust the size of the brush as I get things further refined. And try to blend things in as smoothly as possible taking a few strokes here and there as needed in order to improve the result.
It's starting to look pretty good. Obviously, I could spend a little bit more time painting in additional areas as needed. But I'm going to go ahead and zoom out just a little bit, and take a look at the other person off in the background. Looks like we might actually have a couple of people back there. And here, I'm going to once again adjust my brush size. And then simply click and drag across, to paint over this entire blemish. I'll then release the mouse. And we can see that we got a good fix in that area. I might come back and clean things up just a little bit in my initial clean up area continuing to paint on any areas that don't seem quite right.
Each time, elements will process the new information in that area. And I can continue working until I have a much better clean-up for that portion of the image. Of course, you can see in this case, even with multiple paint strokes over this area things aren't looking all that good. In those cases I'll take another approach to clean up a blemish. And that is to completely remove an area and then use the Spot Healing Brush just for blending. I'll use the Clone Stamp for that initial clean up work. So I'll choose the Clone Stamp from the toolbox.
And then go into my image, adjust the brush size as needed. I want to sample a reasonably large area here to fix the blemish. Then I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh and click on a good source of pixels for my correction. I can then move over the area that I need to clean up and I'll click and drag just a little bit in order to paint that area of the image. You can see that that's a big improvement over my initial work.
But it doesn't blend in quite that well and so I'm going to switch to my Spot Healing Brush tool. And then I'll simply paint on the areas of the image that I feel need a little bit more blending. That's looking much, much better. So I've actually copied pixels in their entirety from one area of the image to another. And then used the Spot Healing Brush tool to clean up around those blended edges. In many cases you'll find that the Spot Healing Brush tool does a great job for fixing blemishes on the first try. But when it doesn't you can use the Clone Stamp tool for the initial clean up. And then the Spot Healing Brush tool to help blend the results to produce a better final result.
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