Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Removing distractions with the Spot Healing Brush, part of Learning Photoshop Portrait Retouching.
- [Instructor] One of the quickest ways to create better portraits is to learn how to effectively remove distractions in the frame. That's exactly what we'll be looking at in this chapter, and here with this environmental portrait, we'll take a look at how we can use the spot healing brush in order to improve this image. Now before we begin our work here, what I want to do is change my workspace. So if you navigate to the upper right-hand corner and click on this pull-down menu, you can choose photography. I recommend that you do that especially for retouching.
And the reason is is that it then shows us all of our retouching tools rather than having them collapse together, so it just gives us easier access to those tools. Let me show you this by way of comparison. If we go to essentials, if I want to work with the healing tools, I have to click and hold down to select those. In contrast, if we use an option like photography over here we can see all the tools are now separated and we can simply click on them. So it's just a little bit easier there. Alright, next in order to start talking about how we can use a spot healing brush, I've created a demo layer.
I want to turn on the demo layer. And let's say with this layer, we've decided that these little teal circles are problems. We need to get rid of those. To do that, we decide we want to use what's called the spot healing brush. The spot healing brush is a phenomenal tool for dealing with problems in the image. You can see as I position the cursor over the image I have an overlay showing me my brush size. I can change that up here in the options bar, and here, let's say we choose a bigger brush size. Now if I decide that I want to try to remove an object like this one right here and I have a brush which is really big, and I click, what will happen is it will remove the little teal circle in the middle.
Can you see how that's gone? But it also affected the surrounding area. So that really wasn't very good. In contrast, if we use this tool and have a smaller brush size, and one quick way to change that brush size is with the bracket key, left bracket key goes smaller, right bracket key goes bigger. If we have a smaller brush size, what we can do is we can then work on the little blemish. If it's too small though, it's going to take a lot of time, as you can see here. I'm removing it with many clicks. If I make the brush size a little bit bigger than the blemish, notice how it's just a touch bigger there, and I click, all of a sudden, perfection.
That is completely removed, flawlessly, seamlessly, and I'm ready to move ahead. Alright, well let's apply that logic to working on our photograph here. I'm going to delete this demo layer for a moment, just so that it isn't distracting, and let's get back to this environmental portrait that we have here. When it comes to retouching, often you want to do your retouching work on a separate layer. This gives you flexibility in case you make a mistake or want to undo something that you've done. To create a new layer or separate layer, click on the new layer icon, then double click the layer name, let's call this one cleanup because that's what we are going to do.
Next we'll choose the spot healing brush. In the options bar, it's essential that you turn on this option to sample all layers. This allows us to do the retouching on the layer above. It's also really helpful that you click into that layer so sometimes you can accidentally click into your background layer, that isn't what we want. We want to work on our cleanup layer right there. So we created a new layer, renamed it. Next we selected the spot healing brush, and we turned sample all layers on. Now currently my brush size is too big for removing these little distractions that I'm seeing on the sand here, so I'm going to make my brush small by tapping the left bracket key.
You can also just press and hold that key, and that allows you to change your brush size. And when it comes to cleaning up distractions, often what you want to do is go for the bigger objects first. You also really want to move around the image so that you're not retouching one area and ignoring other areas. So here, I'll go ahead and zoom in a little bit by pressing Command + plus, tap the left bracket key, make my brush smaller, and what I'm trying to do is create an image which is more about the subject. This is a portrait, which I captured for a magazine, of someone who is a thought leader, and she runs a non-profit organization that does work around the world, and she's also a dancer.
And so in this case, I'm highlighting that aspect of her that she does dance, and she's in her mid-60s and is just a really dynamic, amazing person, and so what I want to do is create an image which draws the viewer into her, rather than anything else in the frame. So you can see here with the spot healing brush, it isn't only just for clicking on those little problems. Sometimes we're going to click and drag over a large area, and that can help us to remove those items there. What about the sailboat in the background? Tap the brush to make it a little bit bigger, and get rid of that.
There's a rock in the reflection here, and so I'll just go ahead and use a smaller brush, and paint over that in order to retouch that away. Alright, well here you can see without a lot of effort, we have been able to achieve professional-level results. That's what this tool does for you. It allows you to make your images look really good. The area that we've retouched away is practically seamless, looks really nice, and I'm just going to retouch away a few other little small areas that I'm noticing using a real small brush, especially when I get close to edges or anything that I'm worried about.
If it's too big, we'll see that problem like we saw with those circles, where it kind of bleeds or blends in in a strange way. Alright, well so far so good. Let's take a look at what we've done. If we turn off the visibility of the background layer, you can see all of the retouchings on a separate layer, the layer above. Perfect. Turn on the visibility of the background layer now, then next we can turn this on and off, and we can see our before and after. Sometimes this can help you realize, okay, you know what, this is looking good, or in my case, it's showing me a few areas I need to work on a little bit more, so I'm going to go back over those.
Looks like I want to go over these areas with a really big brush, and I'm only able to do that because I did all that small brush work first. And so I'm just going to go over this, couple more times here. One of the things that this particular tool does a really good job at is blending in texture, and so I'm looking to just make sure that looks all nice and natural, and in this case, it does.
- Cleaning up the background
- Removing distractions with the Spot Healing Brush
- Removing logos, jewelry, and lint
- Sculpting with Liquify
- Smoothing skin
- Removing unflattering distortion
- Changing the face with Face-Aware Liquify
- Removing shadows and wrinkles
- Improving eyes
- Whitening teeth
- Changing makeup
- Using multiple frames