Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
Illustration by Don Barnett

Using the Spot Healing Brush tool


Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

with Jan Kabili

Video: Using the Spot Healing Brush tool

Even the best-looking model can use some retouching, particularly if a photo is not shot professionally. Harsh lighting or uncontrolled natural light can really emphasize imperfections in the skin. That's okay, because there's a lot you can do in Photoshop to retouch a portrait, whether it's a professional portrait or whether it's just a grab-a-shot. In this movie, I am going to show you one of the tools that you can use to retouch, and that's the Spot Healing Brush. This tool is great for removing blemishes and other small imperfections on a face.
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  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
7h 55m Beginner Oct 13, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Learning and customizing the interface and workspace
  • Utilizing various manual and guided selection techniques
  • Working with Adobe Camera Raw
  • Adding special effects with layer styles and Smart Filters
  • Creating Photomerge panoramas
  • Optimizing photos for the web and creating web galleries
Jan Kabili

Using the Spot Healing Brush tool

Even the best-looking model can use some retouching, particularly if a photo is not shot professionally. Harsh lighting or uncontrolled natural light can really emphasize imperfections in the skin. That's okay, because there's a lot you can do in Photoshop to retouch a portrait, whether it's a professional portrait or whether it's just a grab-a-shot. In this movie, I am going to show you one of the tools that you can use to retouch, and that's the Spot Healing Brush. This tool is great for removing blemishes and other small imperfections on a face.

When I am retouching, I like to have two copies of an image open. On one copy, I will be zoomed in and doing my retouching, and on the other copy, I will be zoomed out, ideally to 100% so that I can see the effect of what I am doing on the whole image. To open another copy of the same image, I am going to go to the Window menu at the top of the screen and move down to Arrange and then choose New Window for and the name of the file. Now I have two tabs open here in the document window, they are both the same image as you can see, and what I would like to do is take the one on the right and move it over so I have more room to work with the one on the left.

So I am going to go to the Arrange Documents menu in the Application Bar, click on that and choose this 2 Up view. Then I am going to move my mouse over the border between the two images and drag to the right, just giving myself some more room to work over here on the left. I will press the Spacebar to access the Hand tool temporarily, and I will drag to move the model's face just into the middle, so I can see the whole thing. Now that will only work if you have that image on the right selected. In other words, you have to have clicked on it before you drag with the Hand tool.

And now I am just going to leave this one here as a reference image and everything I do to the one on the left will update in the reference image on the right. So I am going to use the Spot Healing Brush to remove some of the blemishes on the skin here. I can see over on the right that there are a few little scars that I would like to get rid of. To do that, I am going to select the Spot Healing Brush, which lives here, behind the Healing Brush. From the flyout menu, I will choose Spot Healing Brush tool, and then I am going to move over to the Layers panel, and I am going to click the Create New Layer icon at the bottom of that panel.

That creates a new layer where I am going to do my Spot Healing. I will call this one spot healing, because I think it's important to name your layers when you are retouching. You get so many layers that later you won't be able to know which is which, unless you give them all meaningful names. I am going to go up to the Options bar for the Spot Healing tool, and I am going to tell it to Sample All Layers. What this means is that it's going to look at all the layers in the file. In this case, there is only one other layer and that's the Background layer. And it's going to take some good pixels, some unblemished pixels, from all the layers in the file, and then it's going to place them down on the layer that's highlighted, here the spot healing layer.

I would like to put those healing pixels on a separate layer for several reasons. First, then they don't directly change the photo on the original background layer, and I then have the flexibility to get rid of that healing layer if I don't like the look of things, or to reduce its Opacity to give it less strength. So with those changes I am ready to spot heal this image. I am going to come over to the image on the left and click on it to make that the active image. Then I am going to zoom in. I could use this Zoom tool to zoom in or I could use this keyboard shortcut.

Command+Plus on a Mac or Ctrl+Plus on a PC. And that zooms in. I will hold down the Spacebar to get the Hand tool temporarily and I will move over here to see these scars. To use the Spot Healing Brush, I am just going to move my brush over one of those scars, and I am going to press the Left Bracket key on the keyboard. That will make my brush a little smaller until it just covers that scar, and then here is the magic. All I have to do is click. What's happened is that the Spot Healing Brush has sampled pixels from somewhere in the vicinity of this brush tip, and if I move the brush tip away, you will see that it has placed those pixels down on the scar and then it blended the pixels in perfectly, in terms of color and tone and shading, with the pixels in the area.

It's pretty amazing. So that's how it works. Now all I have to do is use it on the other blemishes on the face. So this goes pretty quickly. I can just move over a blemish, I use my Left Bracket key to make the brush smaller, and I will click, and I can use that size brush for most of these tiny blemishes, fixing them, there is a lighter colored one down here, then I hold down my Spacebar, and I click and drag in the image to see some others that I might fix. Here's one here, here's one here, here's one here, here's one here and so on.

Then I am going to look at my reference image and see where else I need to go. There's a little spot up there and some on the chin. I will go for the one above the eyebrow by pressing the Spacebar, moving there, and clicking on the spot. Then I will go down to the chin, and you can see how fast this goes, and I will click on those spots on the chin, and I think that's all I am going to do with the Spot Healing Brush. So that's how quick and easy it is to use this magic brush to get rid of blemishes in a portrait.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS4 Essential Training .

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Q: How can artwork be transferred from Photoshop CS4 to Illustrator CS4 without the background?
A: Save the image in Photoshop’s native PSD format. The background in Photoshop must be transparent, meaning there should be no background layer. (To remove a background layer, move your artwork to a separate layer by selecting and copying the content, minus the background, to a new layer, and then delete the background layer. A checkboard pattern behind your image indicates transparent pixels.) 

In Illustrator, select File > Open, and select the PSD file. In Photoshop Import dialog box, select Convert Layers to Objects.

Q: How do I retouch an image I have of an old photograph I scanned?
A: There are a few courses that address image restoration. Check out the Photoshop CS4 Portrait Retouching Essential Training course, and for problems dealing specifically with old photographs, watch the Restoration movies in chapter 15 of the Enhancing Digital Photography with Photoshop CS2. Additionally, learn how to research and date photos with our Growing and Sharing Your Family Tree course.
Q: A client has asked for artwork to be delivered as JPEGs or BMP files in 16-bit format. In Photoshop CS4, there does not appear to be an option to save an image as a 16-bit JPEG. Is there a way to save JPEG files as 16-bit in Photoshop?
A: Unfortunately, JPEGs cannot be saved in 16 bit. JPEGs, by nature, are 8-bit. So if you open a high-bit image into Photoshop CS4, you will see no option in any of the save dialog boxes to save the file as a JPEG. You would first have to convert the image to 8 bit (by choosing Image > Mode > 8 bits/channel) and then save it as an 8-bit JPEG. If you open a high-bit image into Photoshop CS5, you will see the option to save it as a JPEG in the Save, Save As, and Save for Web dialog boxes.  But the JPEG will not be saved as 16-bit. Instead, Photoshop will downsample it to 8-bit for you  before saving it as JPEG.
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