So we’ve looked at using the Clone Stamp Tool, but what if there were an even easier way to heal images? One where Photoshop blends the clone into the image for an even better look. Well, there is. In fact, there are a couple and we will be looking at using those today. The tools we will be using are called the Healing Brush Tool, Spot Healing Brush Tool and the Patch Tool.
Let’s take this very happy photograph of a lion in a zoo. Before it can be taken further for colour adjustments and finalising there are a few things that need to be fixed.
Can you see those dots above the lion? They are holding wires to stop it climbing up, but I do not want those in the image, they draw the eye away from the focus. Let’s remove them. Although we could use the clone stamp tool, there are even easier ways.
Healing Brush Tool: Perhaps the most similar to the Clone Stamp Tool the Healing Brush again requires us to select a source with Alt and then paint the clone over the area we want to cover up. (For more on the Clone Stamp Tool, look here) However, what the Healing Brush does differently is it will try to blend the new clone into the background. Very useful when the two do not match perfectly. To demonstrate this I have selected the lions nose as the source and painted it onto his side. You will see hard edges as you paint and then see the blended results. The colour of the nose has even changed to match the lions fur.
Now let’s use it properly. Alt click the rocks and then paint over the spots.
Very nice and easy. But it could be easier. How? Spot healing brush.
Spot Healing Brush Tool: This tool is built for what we want to do here. It works in the same way as the Healing Brush Tool, however we do not need to select a source. Photoshop analyses the area surround the spot we painted and fills it in with a source it has selected from the surrounding area. So in this case we just grab the brush and paint over the spots. Done!
Ok, but for some people that is too simple. Sometimes you need to select a source but are not sure which part of the image would be best as the source. In this situation you want to use the Patch Tool.
Patch Tool: With this tool you draw around the area you want to remove which creates a selection. Then you drag that selection around over the area of the image you want to source. As you drag the selection you will see a the new source displayed over the area you selected to heal. When you release the mouse and drop the selection on the new source, Photoshop will create the clone and blend it into the image. To demonstrate this we will seal the lion’s great yawn. I drew around his mouth with the Patch Tool active, and then dragged the selection to the lion-coloured rocks below him.
So to use this to cover over the spots we just draw around them and then drag the selection over the desired source. This is really useful as you can preview different sources over the area you want to ‘patch’ or heal.
Something else this tool enables us to do very well that Photoshop cannot always do with the other tools is heal over sharp lines. For instance, this selection can be patched easily by dragging the selection downwards and lining up the rock edges. It does not have to be perfect the first time, you can go over it again with a new source to fix any rough edges.
I use the patch tool most of all. It is flexible, fast and extremely useful.
Those are the basics of the healing tools. There are more settings to them, but for now experiment and get to know them, that is the best way to get to grips with them.