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Sometimes getting the best results in image cleanup involves not so much figuring out what the best tool for the job is but what the best several tools for the job might be. In other words mixing and maching our cleanup tools in order to help us get the best results. The Spot Healing Brush tool with the content aware feature is one of my go to tools. I use it the most for cleaning up an image. But sometimes the blending behavior of this Spot Healing Brush actually causes a little bit of a problem. Let's take a look at an example here, we have a photograph of a goat and this particular goat has left some things behind that I'd like to remove from the image here.
I'll go ahead and create a new layer to perform my clean up work on. I'll click on the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel and then I'll double-click on the name of the layer and I'll just call this Cleanup. So that I know that this layer was used to cleanup some blemishes from the image. I'm going to start off with the Spot Healing Brush tool just to illustrate some of the shortcomings that the blending behavior can create. I'll go ahead and choose the Spot Healing Brush tool and I'll zoom in on this area of the image. And you can see if I paint across these goat droppings in order to try to remove them, that I get a bit of a blending, and that can sometimes be a little bit problematic.
In essence we get a blooming effect. We get sort of a smearing of total values or colors. And that obviously doesn't work very well. I am going to press Ctrl+Z on Windows or Cmd+Z on Macintosh in order to undo that last clean up step, and I'm going to start off with the Clone Stamp tool. Now the Cone Stamp tool doesn't perform any blending. That means it's on us to try to make sure that we're matching pixels as closely as possible. That can be a little bit of a challenge but by mixing the Clone Stamp tool with the Spot Healing Brush tool we can oftentimes get a very, very good result without all that much effort. So let's go ahead and get started ith the Clone Stamp tool. I'm using the all layers option and I've turned off the effect of Adjustment Layers even though at the moment I don't have any Adjustment Layers. Its just a good setting to use in general for the Clone Stamp tool. I'll then hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh and then click on an area I think represents a good source of pixels for my cleanup work.
I'll then move the mouse out over the area that needs to be cleaned up and I'll click and drag and generally when working with the Clone Stamp tool I'll work with relatively short strokes of the mouse. In part so that I don't overlap the same area multiple times. I find that this technieque helps to avoid some common problems in terms of the actual image cleanup. I'll go ahead and wrap up my work here I've got all of those blemishes now removed. But you can probably see reasonably easily that I have not the best blending.
There's some dark areas that blend into light areas, we can see some obvious patterns that don't look very natural here. So, I think I've done a good job of cleaning up the overall blemishes and making sure that I don't get that blooming effect. But there's still a little bit of clean up work left to do, and in particular a little bit of blending. I want to blend these clean up strokes into the images so that they work a little bit more seamlessly, and that's where the Spot Healing Brush tool really shines. So I'll go ahead and choose the Spot Healing Brush tool from the tool box and I'll make sure that I'm working with my content aware option and that the Sample All Layers check box is turned on. And then, I can simply click and paint in the areas that represent less than ideal blending.
And that will allow the Spot Healing Brush tool to work in those areas in order to smooth out the blending. I'll go ahead and turn off the Cleanup Layer so we can see the before version and then turn that layer back on so we see the after version. And I'll zoom out and repeat that process again so we can see those spots magically disappear leaving us with an image that is quite literally cleaner than when we found it. As you can see, working with multiple cleanup tools will very often give us a better result than we could ever achieve with a single cleanup tool in Photoshop.
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