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Retouching Images in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 5 of 7

Retouching Using Multiple Retouching Tools

Ben Willmore

Retouching Images in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

5. Retouching Using Multiple Retouching Tools

Lesson Info

Retouching Using Multiple Retouching Tools

All right, let's work on other images that might help us really learn to think about how to use these features. Let's take a look up here and see if we can really get a sense for the true difference between Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, and Spot Healing Brush. So first, Clone Stamp. With Clone Stamp, you're just blatantly copying from one area and putting it somewhere else. And if you were to use a hard-edge brush, there'd be nothing to help you blend it in with the surroundings. And that means that if I copy from this area here, Option clicking, and I apply it over here, it's just a blatant application with no attempt to get it to look good. (mouse clicking) Choose Undo. If on the other hand, I switch to the Healing Brush and I copy from the exact same area and I apply it over here, the results will be completely different because any tool with the word healing attached to it will try to precisely match both the brightness and color of whatever is right outside the area where you've app...

lied it. Well, if you look right outside that circle, you see a completely different color and a completely different brightness. So when I click, it can still use that and apply it just fine. So therefore, if I wanted to get rid of these little vents that were in here, I could use the Healing Brush tool, and just to show you that it's possible, I can copy up here from the red, I just Option clicked, Alt clicking in Windows, and I can come right down here to apply it. Now, you can see that it's trying to blend in with what's on the edge and therefore you see it getting a little kinda blurry-looking and dark on the left side. That's because it's blending them with the rest of that vent. Once I get beyond the edge of the vent though, it attempts to blend in with the color that's right next to it. I can continuing going if I want 'cause up on the red object, you can see the crosshair of where it's copying from and there's more space available, so I can come in here, and there might be enough space to get that entire vent. Now, when I got to about there, you start seeing a slightly bright vertical area within my circle, and you can see it over on the red object. Can you see it right here? It's like a little scratch or paint spot. Well, it's just picking up the variation in brightness that was over here and it was using it there, so you see that's starting to show up. All I need to do is copy from another area, come down there and clean it up. I'm gonna choose Undo a few times to get rid of that. And that was the Healing Brush. The Healing Brush means copy the variation and brightness from one spot and apply it somewhere else, but when you do, make sure you match, both the brightness and color. So to show you a few other examples, I'll copy from this bright white area, Option click, and I'll use it to get rid of the spot on the dark red. Works just fine. If, on the other hand, I told it to copy from here, it's gonna copy the texture that's here. So if I use that to try to come in here and get rid of something in this file, let's say, going there, look, you can see the texture of the wall. It's a matter of the variation and brightness needs to be appropriate. So then, we have the Spot Healing Brush. In the Spot Healing Brush, it tries to pick where to copy from and it does try to do it in an intelligent way. So I can come in here and paint over one of these letters. And I gotta paint over the whole thing, all I see is a black overlay, and it's only when I let go that it decides where to copy from. So I can go across each letter and see if it does an okay job. On occasion, it might mess up. Then I'll probably want to smooth it out, 'cause I can see the edge of where I kinda painted there, but we can get rid of that. The spot healing brush can usually do a pretty good job. Therefore, I default to trying the spot healing brush first because there's a good chance that it will just work, and I won't have to do any additional work on the image. It's only when the spot healing brush fails three times in a row, that I switch to something else. When I switch to something else, if at all possible, I'll simply switch to the healing brush. And the only difference is, with the healing brush, I tell it where to copy from. So, if I were to go in here, and here I can see kind of a lighter, almost upside-down V shape to this area, maybe I copy from here, Option click, and I decide to apply it over here. I'll get a bigger brush so I can see exactly where that transition into the shadow would be, so it can line up there, then get a small brush before I actually click to apply it, but I click and I drag across like this, and you'll see that same little upside-down V shaped bright area get transferred over here, but where did the color and brightness come from? Whatever's surrounding this. What's copied from over here is the variation in brightness, and it takes a lot of time, I find, for people to really get their head around that. So, when I come over to an area like this and I see the shadow that's here. Let's say I want to get rid of that shadow, Well, I would first try using the spot healing brush, and if I come over here, I need to paint across the entirety of the problem, 'cause it's gonna blend in to whatever's right outside where I painted. I don't want it to blend into the dark shadowy area. And it can do okay, but there's a grout line here that is now missing. So, I can attempt to go over that a second time, maybe get a smaller brush and paint right where the grout should be, hoping it's gonna bring it in, no luck, try it again. Three strikes and you're out. That means I'm gonna switch to a different tool. The tool I'm gonna switch to is the healing brush tool, and I'm just gonna look for another grout line, I could possibly go for this one, but that looks like it's dark. I wanna see if I can find one that's light, and I'm not sure if I will. If I can't find one that's light, then I might end up copying from the one that's already existing in the same location. But I'll just look around for where all the grout lines are, and I don't see another light one. Therefore, it means I'm gonna have to copy from the one that's here. So, what I would usually do in this case, is I can attempt to just copy from here, Option click, and then apply. And then once I'm done, I'll try to break it up so it doesn't look so much like an exact copy. Maybe I copy from a little bit here, and then use that to join those two sections, and then I think I'm starting to look okay. I might be off the tiniest bit, there, so I might need to come in and just do a tiny bit of a touch up. Down below, though, I think I'm gonna have some issues. Let's go back, going to my spot healing brush, and I'm gonna paint across the entirety of that shadow, and the problem is, I'm gonna end up kissing up against the edge of an object that I don't want to remove, which is the edge of the stair, and any time your brush touches something, just on the edge, it's gonna try to blend in with it. It's gonna try to match both the color and brightness, so when I let go, it doesn't look right, and it tries to extend the stair over. And sure, if you want to give it three strikes before it's out, you can try it again and again. Each time, it's gonna mess up. That's gonna happen when you come up and just kiss against an edge, where you didn't want to retouch, there. So, what I'm gonna do here, is try to isolate the problem, so that it's surrounded on all sides by the proper brightness and color that should end up on that edge. That means I'm gonna go to the clone stamp tool. I'm gonna copy from somewhere up here, Option clicking, and then I'm gonna come in here with the smaller brush, and I'm just gonna create a gap between the edge of the stairs and where the shadow is. If you've ever seen me make any straight lines, that means that I clicked in one spot, and I held down the Shift key and I clicked somewhere else which made a straight line. Here, I got a little over spray, so I'll just grab the eraser tool and get rid of that over spray, oops, where's my eraser tool? I'm not working on an empty layer. I should have created an empty layer at the beginning. Well, it's interesting, but it's not unsolvable, as far as being able to erase that little over spray. If you click and hold on the eraser tool, there's actually a, let's see, it's not there, where is it? Somewhere is the history brush, it's right here. Just above the eraser tool is the history brush. If you look at it, it looks like a brush with kind of a U-turn symbol on top of it. And when you paint with that tool, it paints with whatever your image looked like when you first opened it. Therefore, if there's any way where you messed up and you didn't use a layer, by painting with that tool, I can bring it back to the original, regardless. That's the history brush. Now, I can continue with my clone stamp tool. I'm gonna copy from an area on the right side, Option clicking there, and I'm just gonna, again, paint right up against the edge of that step. There's only so far I'll be able to go down before I bump into information that wouldn't be appropriate. I'll start copying from this edge down in here, right where that edge of the wall is, Option click, and come over here and make sure it's at the right height before clicking and applying. There we go. Then, down here at the bottom, we still have the shadow somewhat hitting the ground, so I need to get a gap, there. So, I'm gonna Option click from the bottom edge of the wall, approximately what I need, and now, I think I have that shadow surrounded on most sides with the proper brightness and color. The only spot where it isn't, is on the edge of the document, and often time, this tool does fine on the edge of a document. Now, I can attempt to use the spot healing brush to paint across this entire object, and I just make sure that the edge where I stop painting is within that little gap that I created, and that it doesn't actually touch the edge of the stairs. Therefore, what it sees on the edge is the appropriate brightness and color. Let go, it is still messed up. Well, I can always give it three strikes, which means give it a try again, in the smaller area where's it's messed up, but since you have to go across the entire problem, I think it's probably going to mess up again. It's a smaller area, though, so I might be able to try that. Let's say I didn't want to do that. I'll choose undo a few times to get back to this point, and all I was doing was typing Command Z, Ctrl Z on Windows to undo. What I'll usually do if it's a large problem like this, is I will end up breaking it up into multiple pieces. I'm just going to break this in half. I'll copy from an area up here with my clone stamp tool by Option clicking, and then I'll paint it in right here. I'll copy a little bit from down here and just paint it in. Now, this chunk up here is surrounded by the proper brightness and color, except for right where it hits the edge of the document, and now I can attempt to use the spot healing brush and just make sure that I end right within that gap I created. Then, do the same thing on this side. Don't let it touch the stairs, don't let it touch the bottom of the floor area. It seems to really want to be messing up over here. And if it just continues messing up, that's when you just say screw it, you got three strikes, I'm going to the normal healing brush tool. I'll manually copy from over here to force you to copy from there, and then I'll come in here and paint that in. Then, I'll manually copy from another area. But you get the idea of how you could fix an area that is too big and complicated for the spot healing brush to deal with by breaking it up into separate pieces, and those separate pieces just make sure on all sides you've surrounded it with the right brightness that it should end up being, and the right color. And then it can tackle that.

Class Description


  • Work non-destructively so any change you make is easily undoable in the future
  • Use the content of multiple documents
  • Determine why Content-Aware Fill often produces disappointing results
  • Understand the fundamental differences between Clone Stamp, Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush
  • Formulate an effective strategy for comingling tools when a single tool cannot tackle a problem


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)

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