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When I'm capturing an image. I try to pay careful attention to any blemishes that might appear in the frame. If possible I try to avoid those blemishes in the original capture. Adjusting my position, or changing lenses for example. To try to alter the overall appearance of the scene to remove those distractions. Sometimes it's just not possible to remove those distractions or you might not notice them when you're capturing the image. But in any event you can clean those distractions up later in Photoshop. Let's take a look at a basic image clean up work flow.
That will serve you well for probably most of the image clean-up work you need to do. I'll start off by creating a new image layer. And this is going to be an empty image layer that I'll place my clean-up pixels onto. In essence, what I'm doing is copying pixels from one portion of an image to another portion of the image in order to cover up a blemish. So at the bottom of the Layers panel, I'll click on the Create New Layer button, the blank sheet of paper icon And then I will double-click on the name of the new layer that is created, so that I can rename it. I'll just type Clean-up, for example. And then press Enter or Return, on the keyboard, to apply that name change. I'll then choose the Spot Healing Brush tool from the toolbox. This is an incredibly powerful tool that makes image clean-up surprisingly easy. I'll make sure that the brush is set to a 100% hardness, by clicking the Brush pop-up on the Options bar.
That helps ensure the best results, because we're then giving crisp detail to Photoshop, and Photoshop will perform blending for us automatically. I'll make sure the Blend Mode is set to normal, and I'm going to use the Content Aware option for type. This is the most powerful option; it analyzes the image and attempts to automatically determine the best way to fix a blemish. I also want to make sure to turn on the Sample All Layers check box. That's what enables me to copy pixels from my background image layer and place them onto the cleanup layer.
That way the cleanup pixels are separate from the background. I can always erase them later, for example, if I realize I've made a mistake. With the tool configured, I'm ready to get to work, and that's actually the easiest part. I can adjust the brush size using the left square bracket key to reduce brush size, and the right square bracket key to increase brush size, and then I can simply paint over the blemishes. For example, I have a couple of objects here at the top of the frame. I'll simply paint over the left of those objects and then over the right of those objects. Looks like I missed a small piece there so I'll paint on that.
And I can get rid of that little blemish right there, and this little stub of grass sticking up to the right here is a little distracting. And in this way, I can simply paint over any of the distractions or blemishes in the image. This technique even works well for what you might consider to be tricky subjects. For example, if I want to get rid of this grass that's laying down in the snow here, I can paint over it. In this case taking a couple of brush strokes in order to remove it. And I can also paint up and down just a little bit in order to enlarge the area that I'm painting and to provide some additional information about what I'm trying to resolve in the image. I can then continue painting on the other side here, in order to remove that blemish from the image as well.
So you can see, working with the Spot Healing Brush tool is incredibly simple. I do strongly encourage you to work on a separate image layer. That way all of the cleanup is happening on a separate layer. So I can get back to my original pixels if need be. I'll go ahead, for example, and turn off the cleanup layer. And turn it back on. And you can see those blemishes that've been cleaned up. I can also turn off the background image layer so that you can see the individual areas where I have cleaned up the image. So, by working on a separate layer, you're able to work with a little bit more flexibility. And by using the spa healing brush tool, the cleanup work, in general, is very, very simple to perform.
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