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Remove Flaws with Photoshop CS2 Healing Tools

Wow, you have a perfect digital image — well, almost. There's just one unsightly flaw. No problem! You can take care of wrinkles, scars, blemishes, scratches, spots, and any other nasty imperfections in a matter of minutes with the healing tools in Photoshop CS2.

Using the Healing Brush

The Healing Brush tool clones by using the texture from the sampled area (the source) and then using the colors around the brush stroke as you paint over the flawed area (the destination). The highlights, midtones, and shadows remain intact, and the result of the repair is more realistic and natural — not retouched and phony.

Follow these steps to heal your favorite, but imperfect photo:

1. Open your image and select the Healing Brush tool.

2. On the Options bar, click the Brush Preset picker.

In the drop-down palette, select your desired diameter and hardness for your brush tip. You do this several times while retouching your image. Using the appropriate brush size for the flaw you are repairing is important.

3. Leave the blend mode set to Normal.

You can change your blend mode if necessary. The Replace mode preserves textures, such as noise or film grain, around the edges of your strokes. For most simple retouching jobs, such as this one, you can leave it at Normal.

4. Choose a Source option.

You have a choice between Sampled and Pattern.

Sampled, which you will probably use 99 percent of the time, uses the pixels from the image.

Pattern uses pixels from a pattern you have selected from the Pattern picker drop-down palette.

5. Select how you want to align the sampled pixels.

When you click or drag with the Healing Brush tool, Photoshop displays a crosshair along with the Healing Brush cursor. The crosshair represents the sampling point (or source). As you move the Healing Brush tool, the crosshair also moves, providing a constant reference to the area that you are sampling. However, if you deselect the Aligned option on the Options bar, Photoshop applies the source pixels from your initial sampling point, despite how many times you stop and start dragging.

Select the Sample All Layers option to heal an image using all visible layers. If unselected, you heal only from the active layer.

For maximum flexibility, select the Sample All Layers options and add a new, blank layer above the image you want to heal. When you heal the image, the pixels appear on the new layer and not on the image itself. You can then adjust opacity, blend modes, and make other tweaks to the "healed" pixels.

6. Establish the sampling point by pressing Alt and clicking the area of your image you want to clone from.

For Mac users, press Option and click the area of the image you want to clone from.

7. Release the Alt (Option on the Mac) key and click or drag over the area of your image that contains the flaw.

Pay attention to where the cross-hair is located because that's the area you are sampling from.

8. Save the file, close it, and send in your invoice for your digital artistry.

Using the Spot Healing Brush

Whereas the Healing Brush is designed to fix larger flawed areas, the Spot Healing Brush is designed for smaller blemishes and little imperfections. The biggest difference between the Healing Brush and the Spot Healing Brush is that the Spot Healing Brush doesn't require you to specify a sampling source. It automatically takes a sample from around the area to be retouched. The good news is it's quick and easy. The downside is that it doesn't give you as much control over the sampling source. Consequently, reserve this tool for small and simple flaws.

Here's how to quickly fix little, nitpicky imperfections with the Spot Healing Brush tool:

1. Open your image and grab the Spot Healing Brush tool.

2. On the Options bar, click the Brush Preset picker and select your desired diameter and hardness for your brush tip.

Try to select a brush that is a little larger than the flawed area you wish to fix.

3. Choose a blend mode from the Options bar.

Like the Healing Brush, you can also choose the Replace mode. Most likely the Normal mode will work the best.

4. Choose a type from the Options bar.

You have a choice between Proximity Match and Create Texture.

Proximity Match: Samples the pixels around the edge of the selection to use to fix the flawed area.

Create Texture: Uses all the pixels in the selection to create a texture to fix the flaw.

Try Proximity Match first and if it doesn't work, undo and try Create Texture.

5. Choose Sample All Layers to heal an image using all visible layers.

If left unselected, you heal only from the active layer.

6. Click, or click and drag, on the area you want to fix.

If you need more control of the sampling source, use the Healing Brush.

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