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Even though touching a photo may seem harmless the oils and skin contain acids. Harmless touch soon burns into the chemicals of a photo and becomes a permanent resident. If the fingerprints are around the edges of a photo or in a non-detailed area they can be easier to repair, but one left in an important area can be a bit more of a challenge. Let's duplicate the original photo using keyboard shortcut Ctrl on a PC Command on a Mac + J. And now let's rename the layer by double-clicking on the layer name and naming it pop, and click next to it to accept.
Now, let's go to the toolbar and select the Zoom tool, it's this tool that looks like a magnifying glass. Let's center it over here on this fingerprint, you can barely see it, but it's over here next to the face and zoom in good and tight. 300% might seem a bit too large, but it's really a good place to work. The whole photo is still in focus, you can see everything and you see the detail of the damage. Now let's go over to the toolbar and select the Spot Healing Brush.
It's this icon that looks like a band-aid and the one on the top. We need to lower the size of our brush so it's more in keeping with the size of the damage. Let's use the Left Bracket key to lower our brush size to about six pixels. We're going to use the Content-Aware feature in the Spot Healing Brush, so make sure the radio button next to Content-Aware is checked. Remember with the Spot Healing Brush you don't have to Alt or Option and click on the area you want to take a reference from, you can just start clicking to repair the damage.
Working on the damage in small areas is the best practice. Occasionally, use the brush on areas around the damage to make sure everything is blending well, but don't use too much of the areas around it, because you don't want to start healing things that don't need to be healed. For example, if I pull the brush down this poll to heal the damage I'm getting rid of the poll that also brings up another good point. Be careful about dragging your mouse down large areas especially in long sweeps, it can leave smudgy lines or do things you don't like.
Let me increase the brush size to show you what I mean and let's pull this area right here. You can see how it takes the pixels and really messes them up and smudges them. Let's click Ctrl+Z to undo all that and lower our brush size again to six pixels. The Content-Aware Healing Brush won't always do the trick, you'll probably never use only one tool throughout an entire restoration.
Let's go back over to the toolbar and select the Clone Stamp tool, this rubberstamp. Remember, with the Clone Stamp tool you'll have to use Alt or Option to select the area you want to use as your reference point. This will work best on areas that go from dark to light, that have a distinct start and stop point. Your Healing Brush tool might work better in these areas that are pretty much one tone, but when you get into these lights, and darks, and shadows you might get a better result if you use your Clone Stamp.
When you start with a new tool remember to resize your brush if it's not where you want it to be. If you don't like what you've just done you can always hit Ctrl or Command+Z to undo. Remember, to take new reference points often, see you don't repeat too many pixels. Again, Ctrl or Command+Z if you ever get to a point you don't like. Removing traces left by fingerprints especially in a detailed area can seem daunting, but if you work in small areas change your tools when you need to and don't forget you can always undo something you don't like and start over you'll have those fingerprints cleared up in no time.
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