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Whether they’re blemishes on skin or stains on a surface, Photoshop has a tool to remove them quite easily. Our focus here will be on working non-destructively. That means that we don’t want to paint on the original photo at all. The added advantage working this way is that our painting will be accessible on their own layers.

Photoshop's Retouching Tools
  1. Clone Stamp Tool
  2. Spot Healing Brush Tool
  3. Healing Brush Tool
  4. Patch Tool
  5. Red Eye Tool

These are the tools we’ll focus on. They’re all made to repair photographs.

Clone Stamp Tool

Photoshop's Retouching Tools

The Clone Stamp Tool is often called the rubber stamp tool for a reason. It works very similarly. You take a sample on your photo, then you replicate it at another location. The goal is most often to cover up something under the cloning.

retouching-clone-stamp-tool

Create a new empty layer called Cloning. Do not duplicate the photo's layer.

The Clone Stamp Tool doesn’t do any calculations or adjustments. It just clones the pixels you sampled, no matter whether they match or not.

Spot Healing Brush Tool

Photoshop's Retouching Tools

The Healing Brush Tool works very similarly to the Clone Stamp Tool, except that it’s a smarter tool. When you release the mouse, while cloning, it evaluates the surrounding pixels, then adjusts the cloned pixels to blend into their surroundings.

This is the perfect tool for removing blemishes on a subject’s skin. It should be your go-to tool. If you find it not bending to your will, go back to the Clone Stamp Tool.

Healing Brush

Photoshop's Retouching Tools

The Healing Brush works by simply clicking on blemishes. There’s not need to sample pixels first. Just adjust the diameter and hardness of your brush, then click away. Just make sure you’re on a new, empty layer.

Patch Tool

Photoshop's Retouching Tools

The Patch Tool is made to fix blemishes on large, rather flat surfaces in a photo. The idea is that you drag a good part of the photo on top of a damaged part of the photo. The tool does the work of blending the patch into its surroundings.

Note that if the Patch setting is at Normal, the tool doesn’t work on a separate layer. It’s best to set it to Content Aware, then work on a new empty layer named Patching.

Red Eye Tool

Photoshop's Retouching Tools

We’ve all seen the red eye effect in photos. Few know that it comes from light from your flash bouncing off the blood vessels at the back of the eye to return to your camera. Happily, there’s a dedicated tool to fix this in Photoshop.

repairing-blemishes-removing-red-eye

All you need to do is use the Red Eye tool to click in the red eye. If you are not satisfied with the result, undo the correction, set one or more of the following options in the options bar, and click the red eye again:

  • Pupil Size: Increases or decreases the area affected by the Red Eye tool.
  • Darken Amount: Sets the darkness of the correction.

A reflection of the camera flash in the subject’s retina causes red eye. You’ll see it more often when taking pictures in a darkened room because the subject’s iris is wide open. To avoid red eye, use the camera’s red eye reduction feature. Or, better yet, use a separate flash unit that you can mount on the camera farther away from the camera’s lens. From: Adobe

Content Aware Tools

The Content Aware Tools in Photoshop are truly magical. They make a really good guess at how you want to fill in shapes. All you do is lasso the unwanted area, then Edit > Fill > Content Aware Fill. Presto!

content-aware-fill
Make a selection, then use the Fill command with Content Aware. Sometimes it needs to be done in sections.

Go ahead and try. Lasso the lamp, then go Edit > Fill > Content Aware… When the surfaces differ a lot, it’s better to do it in multiple steps.

If you're zoomed in really closely, you can hold h, then click-hold with your mouse to zoom out and choose another zoom location. Go ahead; give it a whirl.

Formative Activity

Fix blemishes on the provided photo with any of the tools above, as needed. Feel free to use an adjustment layer. You’ll likely need them to colour her lips and maybe her eyes. Subtlely.

photoshop-retouching-fundamentals-exercise

It’s very important that your work is non-destructive. The focus of this assignment is has two goals:

  1. repair blemishes seamlessly.
  2. make repairs non-destructive – do not touch the original photo.

You can create layers as needed. I usually create a layer for each separate task. Remember to name all of your layers with a meaningful name.

Content Aware Fill

Use Content Aware Fill to remove the microphone and light from the background.

summative-content-aware-fill

Save, then close the document.