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Photoshop Elements > Retouching >

Healing Brush Tool > Basics

Use the Healing Brush tool to remove large imperfections in your photographs.

For smaller defects, use the Spot Healing Brush tool.

Cloning versus Healing

The Clone Stamp tool and the Healing Brush tools do similar actions.

What's the difference between the two tools?

The Clone Stamp tool covers another part of the photograph with the sampled area.

In contrast, the Healing Brush tools blend the sampled area with an area on the photograph.

Do You Need to Blend or Cover?

Use the Healing Brush tool when you're retouching a face.

You'll probably want to blend the sampled area with the retouching area.

The blending helps to camouflage the retouching.

If the area to be retouched is unsightly, then it should be covered up completely.

Use the Clone Stamp tool to cover an area with the sampled area.

The Clone Stamp tool can be used to cover:

• Dust marks, rips, and fold marks.

• Distracting objects, such as stray hairs and telephone wires.

• Distracting areas, such as brown grass, a bright patch of sky in trees, glare on a face, and lens flare.

• A closed eye with an eye from someone else in a group photograph, or from the same person from another photograph in which he or she isn't blinking.

Wrinkles

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Let's remove some wrinkles from the above photograph.

Here they are up close.

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Be sure to check off as you go along.

Preparation

1) Preserve your original file.

If you haven't already done so, go to Preserve Your Original File.

2) Create a Background copy layer.

If you haven't already done so, go to Create a Background Copy Layer.

3) Be sure to use the Zoom tool to enlarge the area to be retouched.

Setting Up

4) Select the Healing Brush tool.

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Photoshop Elements 10 & Earlier Versions

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Photoshop Elements 11 & Later Versions

5) Select a brush size that's the size of the wrinkle.

6) If needed, feather the brush.

When retouching skin, to maintain skin texture, use less feathering.

If you haven't already done so, go to Feathered Brush.

7) Usually, in options bar/Tool Options, make sure aligned is deselected.

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Photoshop Elements 10 & Earlier Versions

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Photoshop Elements 11 & Later Versions

8) Usually, in options bar/Tool Options, make sure Sample All Layers is selected.

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Photoshop Elements 10 & Earlier Versions

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Photoshop Elements 11 & Later Versions

Occasionally, you may have something on a layer that will interfere with cloning.

If so, deselect the eye icon of the offending layer.

Or, deselect Sample All Layers in options bar/Tool Options.

Blank Layer Above Levels

9) Make sure the Levels adjustment layer is active (highlighted).

10) Create a blank layer.

Layer 1 appears above the Levels adjustment layer.

Layer 1 (Blank layer)

Levels adjustment layer

Background copy

Background

Layer 1 (Blank layer)

The healed pixels will be blended onto Layer 1, a blank layer.

There are many advantages to using a blank layer.

If you haven't already done so, go to With Blank Layers.

Important

When you create the blank layer for healing, make sure it's above the Levels adjustment layer.

If the blank layer is below the Levels adjustment layer, the healing will get a double dose of the Levels.

Go to Clone Stamp Tool Problem.

Rename

11) Rename Layer 1 as Wrinkles.

Healing

12) Make sure the Wrinkles layer is active (highlighted).

13) Center the brush (the black circle) on an area of the face that's similar in color and texture to the wrinkled area.

14) Press Alt (Option on a Mac) and hold.

The cursor will change to a bulls-eye when your press and hold Alt (Option).

15) Click.

You've sampled the area.

16) Release the mouse button.

17) Position the brush (the black circle) on the area of the photograph that you want to retouch.

18) Click.

The sampled area is blended with the photograph.

19) Click the brush multiple times over the wrinkle.

To preserve skin texture, click.

Don't click, hold, and drag the brush.

Skin color varies greatly, so resample often.

20) Check your progress by deselecting the eye icon to the left of the Wrinkles layer.

21) You can fine tune the retouching by adjusting the opacity of the Wrinkles layer.

Do the following.

a) Make sure the Wrinkles layer is active (highlighted).

b) Lower the opacity.

The Opacity box is at the top of the layers stack, to the right of the Blending Mode box.

It probably has 100% inside.

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If you change the opacity to, say, 85%, then some of the Background copy layer is blended with the Wrinkles layer.

This often makes the retouching look more realistic.

22) Repeat the above healing steps as needed.

Here's a the retouched photograph and the original.

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Retouched

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Original

Tips

Sample Often

Sample often!

Sample Nearby

Sample near the area to be cloned!

Small Brush

As mentioned, a small brush produces better results than a large brush.

Click & Drag?

You can click, hold, and drag the Clone Stamp tool brush.

However, a second copy of the photograph may start to appear in the area being retouched.

When you click and drag, it's as if Aligned is selected in options bar/Tool Options.

Advanced

The advanced page about the Clone Stamp tool apples to the Healing Brush tool as well.

Go to Clone Stamp Tool > 2 - Advanced.

Saving the Photograph

If you haven't already done so, go to Saving Files.

The next section discusses ways to refine the operation of the Healing Brush tool.