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The Spot Healing Brush tool and Healing Brush tool are the tools to reach for when you're retouching a portrait. They both do a great job of covering up blemishes, wrinkles and other skin flaws. I usually start with the Spot Healing Brush tool which automatically selects good pixels with which to cover the areas that I'm retouching. After I select that tool, I go over to the layers panel and I'm going to make a new layer for my retouching marks. I'll click the Add New layer button at the bottom left of the layers panel and that creates a new layer that's named layer 1 by default.
To give it a more meaningful name, I'll double-click right on the layer name and I'm going to type retouching instead. With that retouching layer selected, I'll go up to the options bar and I want to make sure that there is a check mark next to Sample All layers. That means that the tool is going to look at the other layers in the file to find good healthy pixels with which to cover the areas that need some retouching and it will lay those pixels down on this retouching layer. That would give me the flexibility to reduce the strength of those retouching marks by lowering the Opacity of that layer or even to throw the layer in the trash if I don't like the results.
Notice that there is a new option in the options bar for the Spot Healing Brush. This is the Content-Aware option. I almost always leave this selected because it does the best job of covering up blemishes and other flaws in the photo and that includes things like telephone wires that may be crossing the entire picture. Content-Aware is a really effective and significant addition to the Spot Healing Brush tool. Now to use the Spot Healing Brush, all I have to do is move into the image and put my cursor over the spot that I want to remove and then I want to make the cursor just a little bit bigger than the spot, so I'll tap the Left Bracket key a couple of times to make that brush a little smaller and then I'll click right on the blemish.
The Spot Healing Brush makes that blemish almost invisible by covering with pixels that are sampled from nearby skin and blending the texture and the lighting and the color of those pixels almost perfectly. So I'll continue to do that around the face, making my brush bigger and smaller as necessary and just clicking on these blemishes. This tool works so well that it's often the only tool that I need. Here I see a little bit of a scar so I'm going to click and drag over the scar and that covers the scar, there is another bit of scar and another.
I can use the Spot Healing Brush to try to reduce the shadow from this fellow's mustache. I'm going to make another layer for that by going to the bottom of the layers panel and clicking the Create New layer button and I'll name this one mustache and then I'll come into the image. I'll make the brush a bit bigger by pressing the Right Bracket key and I'm just going to click a few times on the mustache. I prefer to click rather than to drag because dragging sometimes creates a visible line.
And to make that look more natural, I'm going to reduce the opacity of the mustache layer a little bit, so we can see a little of the five o'clock shadow. I'll move my mouse over the Opacity label and I'll drag to the left. The Spot Healing Brush tool works so well particularly with the new Content-Aware option that I hardly need to use the Healing Brush tool, but sometimes I want to sample the good pixels from a particular area and that's when I reach for the Healing Brush tool.
With the Healing Brush tool I also want to make sure that Sample All layers is checked, for the same reason that I checked this option for the Spot Healing Brush tool. I'm also going to check Aligned, so that the spot, from which I'm sampling good pixels, moves along with my cursor as I move to different areas of the image to retouch. In the layers panel I'll go back and I'll click on the retouching layer again, so that my touching marks are laid down on this layer and then I'll come into the image and I'll find some smooth skin here, I'll hold the Alt key, that's the Option key on the Mac and I'll click and the cursor changes to this target icon, meaning that it's sampling pixels from here.
Then I'm going to click on an area that I'd like to cover, the scar down here at the edge. I'll click a couple of times and the Healing Brush covers that area very nicely. So that's how to use the Healing Brush and the Spot Healing Brush to quickly and effectively retouch a portrait.
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