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I think of the Healing Brush tool in Photoshop as something of a hybrid cleaning tool. It combines the benefit of automated blending of the pixels that you're copying with the ability to manually select the source of pixels that you want to use to replace a given area. And that can be helpful in a variety of situations. Let's take a look at how the Healing Brush tool works. I'm going to start off by creating a new empty Pixel layer, that I'll use as the destination for all of the pixels that I'll copy with the Healing Brush tool. So, at the bottom of the Layers panel, I'll click on the Create New Layer button.
And then I'll go ahead and double-click the name of that layer and I'll give it a new name, a more meaningful name, I'll just call it Cleanup and press Enter or return on the keyboard. And then, I can choose the Healing Brush tool from the toolbox. The Healing Brush tool is found underneath the Spot Healing Brush tool, and so I'll Click and Hold my mouse on the button for the Spot Healing Brush tool in order to bring up the File menu. And then I can choose the Healing Brush tool from that menu. I can then take a look at the settings on the Options bar for the Healing Brush tool. I'll use a hardness of 100% so that I'm giving Photoshop crisp-edged detail that it can blend in to surrounding areas. That generally makes the task go a little bit faster, and also, in most cases, with a higher degree of accuracy.
I'll go ahead then and take a look at the other settings. I want the source of the pixels that I'll be painting to be an area sampled by me, not a pattern that I could define. I won't worry about the Align setting because every time I paint, I'm going to choose a specific source of pixels. I do want to make sure that the Sample option is set to All Layers so that I can work on a separate Image layer. I'll be putting my cleanup pixels onto the Cleanup layer not touching the original background pixels. But of course, I want to be able to copy pixels from that background layer, thus the All Layers option. But I also want to make sure to turn on the option to ignore Adjustment Layers. That will help ensure that the pixels that I'm placing onto the Cleanup layer will actually match the Background layer even if I've added Adjustment Layers to my image.
With those options established, I'm ready to start cleaning up my image. I can use the Left and Right Square Bracket keys on the keyboard in order to adjust the size of my brush. I can then hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, and click on an area that I want to use as a source. In this case, I'd like to get rid of some of the blemishes, some of the dirt, and debris that was on the window here. And so, I'm going to hold the Alt or Option key and click on an area that is clear. And then, I will Click and Drag over an area that has a blemish.
Notice that as I'm Clicking and Dragging, the area that I'm painting does not match perfectly. In this case, it's slightly darker for example. When I release the mouse, however, Photoshop will blend the pixels into the destination matching the overall Tone and Color. I can take this to an extreme. I'll go ahead and copy a smooth area. I'll set the smooth area here as the source of my pixels. So, I'll hold the Alt or Option key and click on that area. And then I'll go down to a significantly darker area. You can see that as I paint, the pixels that I'm placing are much lighter.
However, as soon as I release the mouse, Photoshop blends that area in seamlessly. So, I can continue in this fashion holding the Alt or Option key and clicking on an area that represents a good source. And then clicking or perhaps slightly Clicking and Dragging over a destination area with that blending, once again, providing a seamless result. So, as you can see, the Healing Brush tool in Photoshop provides the benefit of combining, an ability to choose the source of pixels as you wish but then have those pixels blended very smoothly into the area where you paint them.
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