Grouped together in the Tools panel of Photoshop Creative Suite 5 are the tools used for painting and retouching images. Knowing when to use each tool can help you make the perfect image.

Spot Healing Brush tool

The Spot Healing Brush tool was a great tool to begin with, but now, with the new Content-Aware feature, it’s even better. In its default settings, the Spot Healing Brush tool quickly removes blemishes and other imperfections in images.

Click a blemish and watch it paint matching texture, lighting, transparency, and shading to the pixels being healed. The Spot Healing Brush tool doesn’t require you to specify a sample spot — it automatically samples from around the retouched area.

Healing Brush tool

You can use the Healing Brush tool for repairs, such as eliminating scratches and dust from scanned images. The difference between the Spot Healing Brush tool and the Healing Brush tool is that a sample spot is required before applying the Healing Brush.

Patch tool

Hidden behind the Healing Brush tool in the Tools panel is the Patch tool. Use it to repair larger areas, such as a big scratch or a large area of skin.

Red Eye tool

Red eye is caused by a reflection of the camera’s flash in the retina of your photo’s subject or subjects. You see this effect more often when taking pictures in a dark room, because the subject’s irises are wide open. With this tool, red eye is extremely easy to fix in Photoshop.

Brush tool

Painting with the Brush tool in Photoshop is much like painting in the real world. If you’re really into brushes, you have lots of useful options available in the Brushes panel. You have several attribute choices, most of which have dynamic controls in the menu options.

Clone Stamp tool

The Clone Stamp tool is used for pixel-to-pixel cloning. The Clone Stamp tool is different from the Healing Brush tool in that it does no automatic blending into the target area. You can use the Clone Stamp tool for removing a product name from an image or replacing a telephone wire that’s crossing in front of a building.

The History Brush tool

When you paint with the History Brush tool, it reverts by default back to the way the image looked in the last saved version. You can click the empty square to the left of any state in the History panel to make it the source for the History Brush tool. Use the History Brush tool to fix errors and add “spunk” to images.

The Eraser tool

When you drag the image with the Eraser tool, it rubs out pixels to the background color. (Basically, it paints with the background color.) If you’re dragging with the Eraser tool on a layer, it rubs out pixels to reveal the layer’s transparent background. (You can also think of using the Eraser tool as painting with transparency.)

The Gradient tool

Choose the Gradient tool and click and drag across an image area to create a gradient in the direction and length of the mouse motion. A short drag creates a short gradient; a long drag produces a smoother, longer gradient. From the Options bar, you also can choose the type of gradient you want: Linear, Radial, Angle, Reflected, or Diamond.

As a default, gradients are created using the current foreground and background colors. Click the arrow on the Gradient button on the Options bar to assign a different preset gradient.

The arrow in the lower right area of a tool icon indicates that the tool has more related hidden tools; simply click and hold the tool icon to see additional painting and retouching tools.