Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Using the Spot Healing Brush tool, part of Photoshop CS4 Essential Training.
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.
- 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
Skill Level Beginner
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.)
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.