Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Healing blemishes, part of Up and Running with Photoshop for Photography.
In this exercise, I will show you how to heal away blemishes inside of an image. We will specifically focus on skin blemishes. However, you'll find that these techniques work just as well for dust and scratches and spots and all sorts of problems inside your photographs. I am working in a file called Bluebeard.jpg found inside the exercise files folder. It comes to us from the PhotoSpin Image Library, and notice that we have lots of surface details to work on. You may also notice that this image is rife with digital noise.
It's not going to get in the way of our ability to heal this image, and it's something that we can resolve later as we will in the future exercise. For now, what I'd like you to do is drop down to the Spot Healing Brush here inside the toolbox. If you don't see that tool, you may see the Red Eye tool instead. Go ahead and click and hold on the Red Eye tool and choose the Spot Healing Brush from the flyout menu. Next, go ahead and paint on some surface detail you'd like to resolve and then release your mouse button and Photoshop will do its thing. Now, by that I mean that Photoshop is looking elsewhere inside the image for a surface detail that it thinks more or less matches.
Then it takes the texture from that detail and maps it on to the new area, so that it matches the color and luminance of its new surroundings and as a result, you get something very closely resembling a seamless patch. Now sometimes, the patches are better than others. I will go ahead and paint over that area, looks pretty darn good. I might just click at that location in order to heal it away. Then I'm going to scroll up slightly and paint over this detail right here, see how that ends up looking. You may every once in a while notice a repetition in detail inside the image.
For example, I am going to go ahead and zoom in here, and I will switch to my Arrow tool just because it allows me to point to things nicely. Notice that this new bit of information right there very closely matches this information up into left. That's what Photoshop does; it goes ahead and clones one area into a new location. You don't always know where it's cloning from, and in many cases the Spot Healing Brush will clone from many locations into a new one. As a result, you shouldn't very often see repetition of detail.
But if you do, as in our case, the solution is to go ahead and stick with that Spot Healing Brush, reduce the size of the cursor and just paint over part of that healed spot in order to bring in some new surface texture. All right! Now, I will go ahead and increase the size of my cursor and paint over that region there. Notice that I have another repetition of detail. This time I have repeated these pixels into this location. So I might just click once again in order to see if I can resolve some of that repetition away and that worked pretty nicely. The Spot Healing Brush, by the way, does live up to its name in two important regards; first of all as you can see, it's good at healing, secondly, it's good at spots.
So single little spots at a time, you may find that it works best when you just click inside of an image as opposed to drag. What about those times when you need to heal bigger regions like this large mole on the left side of the gentleman's face. In that case, you may be better off with this feature known as Content Aware Fill and here's how it works. I will go ahead, and grab my Lasso tool near the top of the toolbox. This tool allows you to draw free-form selections just by dragging inside the image window. Notice that as I drag, I'm giving wide berth to that mole so that there's plenty of good skin around it, that's important, so that Photoshop matches the color and luminance of that good detail.
Now then, I don't want to see these marching ants here, this animated selection outline, because that will interfere with my ability to see what's going on. So I am going to hide the selection by pressing Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac; that H is for Hide. The selection is still active, by the way, it's still there. It's just hidden from view. Now, what I'd like you to do is go up to the Edit menu and choose the Fill command. When you are working on a flat image like this, or in other words, you're working on the background inside the layers panel over there, then you can also get to the Fill dialog box by pressing the Backspace key on the PC or the Delete key on the Mac.
Next, make sure that you are seeing the default settings. Use should be set to Content-Aware and then mode should be set to Normal, Opacity: 100%. If so, go ahead and click on the OK button, and notice what a dramatic difference it's made. Now, once again, that doesn't mean things are altogether perfect, notice we do have a repetition of detail here. So what I'd like you to do is press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect the image, then go ahead and switch back to the Spot Healing Brush tool.
Let's go ahead and paint that repeating detail away. If we are still seeing some nasty stuff there, you can continue painting or clicking or what have you. This little guy just doesn't want to go away at all, in which case what I can do is specify exactly which portion of the image I want a clone into the new region, and I'll do that using not the Spot Healing Brush tool, but the next one down, the Healing Brush tool. Here is how you use it. You have to tell Photoshop exactly what area you are cloning, and you do that by pressing and holding the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac.
Notice when Alt or Option is down, that you see a target cursor. Go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on an area that looks relatively clean and is nearby the area into which you're going to paint. That's very important. After you Alt or Option+Click, then you just go ahead, and paint that region away and Photoshop should come up with a different healing texture. All right! Now, let's see a more advanced application of healing. Let's say that we want to take the right eye on this fellow's face and heal it onto the left eye.
For starters, I'll go ahead and Alt or Option+Click in this right eye, and then I will increase the size of my cursor dramatically by pressing the right-bracket key several times, and I will just go ahead and click into the new location. Now, Photoshop has done a brilliant job I have to say of replicating the right eye as well as matching the color and luminance information around that eye. However, the right eye looks completely wrong in this new location because it points in the wrong direction. We need to flip the eye as we clone it.
So I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that change, then go up to the Window menu and choose Clone Source to bring up the Clone Source panel. Now, there is a lot going on inside this panel, but just a couple of options that we need to pay attention to; we want to flip the eye horizontally as you may recall. So go to this icon right there to the left of the W, notice it says Flip horizontal, and turn it on. If you move your cursor into the image window, you will now see that the eye is getting flipped inside of that circular cursor.
However, that's not quite good enough. We need to also rotate the eye into place and you do that using this Rotate value right there. What I'd like you to do because you don't really know exactly the degree of rotation, go ahead and select that Degree value, then move your cursor into the image window, and try pressing Shift+Up-arrow. That's going to increase the value in 1 degree increments. As you press Shift+Up-arrow, you will notice inside your cursor here, that the eye is rotating in the wrong direction. All right! Fair enough, so now press Shift+Down-arrow instead.
At about -6 degrees, the angle of the eye looks pretty darn good to me. All right! Now I will go ahead and close the Clone Source panel. I am going to increase the size of my cursor even more like so, and I want to get this eye into more or less the right location. However, I don't mean that it needs to be absolutely symmetrical, because people's eyes in general are not symmetrical, they are a little off. However, I would like to make sure that we leave enough room for the bridge of the nose. So right about there looks good, and then just go ahead and click in order to set the location of that eye.
Now, it doesn't look exactly right because we have some weird edges around that circular paint spot. However, that does set the relationship between the clone source, and the clone destination. Now, go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that change, and then what I want you to do is go up to the options bar, and turn on the Aligned check box. Each brushstroke we make in the future is aligned to the last one, and you can see how that works as I move my brush around. All right! I am going to reduce the size of my brush cursor significantly now, and I'll paint in just those areas that require the attention of this brushstroke.
Once I get done, I will go ahead and release in order to heal that eye into place. All right! Let's see what we've managed to accomplish here. Go ahead and center the image a little better and I will press the F12 key in order to reinstate the original version of the image. So that's the before image, and if I press Ctrl or Command+Z, that's the after image. Thanks to the power of the Healing Brush, Content-Aware Fill, and the Clone Source panel here inside Photoshop.
For a guide to getting started with designs and artwork in Photoshop, check out Up and Running with Photoshop for Design.
- Retrieving photos from a camera
- Adding copyright and metadata
- Adjusting brightness, contrast, levels, and hues
- Converting an image to black and white
- Fixing red-eye and blemishes
- Straightening a crooked image
- Sharpening details and reducing noise
- Working with selections and layers
- Saving an image for the web