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Retouch Images with the Healing Brush Tool

The Healing Brush tool in Photoshop Element s10 is similar to the Clone Stamp tool in that you clone pixels from one area onto another area. But the Healing Brush is superior in that it takes into account the tonality (highlights, midtones, and shadows) of the flawed area.

The Healing Brush clones by using the texture from the sampled area (the source) and then using the colors around the brush stroke while you paint over the flawed area (the destination). The highlights, midtones, and shadow areas remain intact, giving you a realistic and natural repair that isn’t as blotchy or miscolored as the repair you get with the Clone Stamp tool.

Here are the steps to heal a photo:

  1. In Full Photo Edit mode, open an image in need of a makeover and select the Healing Brush tool from the Tools panel.

    You can also heal between two images, but be sure that they have the same color mode — for example, both RGB (red, green, blue).

    Wipe out ten years in two minutes with the Healing Brush tool.
    Wipe out ten years in two minutes with the Healing Brush tool.
  2. Specify a diameter and hardness for your brush tip from the Brush Picker drop-down panel on the Options bar.

    You can also adjust the spacing, angle, and roundness. Don’t be shy. Be sure to adjust the size of your brush, as needed. Using the appropriate brush size for the flaw you’re retouching is critical to creating a realistic effect.

  3. Choose your desired blend mode.

    For most retouching jobs, you probably should leave the mode as Normal. Replace mode preserves textures, such as noise or film grain, around the edges of your strokes.

  4. Choose one of these Source options:

    • Sampled uses the pixels from the image. You use this option for the majority of your repairs.

    • Pattern uses pixels from a pattern chosen from the Pattern Picker drop-down panel.

  5. Select or deselect the Aligned option on the Options bar.

    For most retouching tasks, you probably should leave Aligned selected. Here are the details on each option:

    • With Aligned selected. When you click or drag with the Healing Brush, Elements displays a crosshair along with the Healing Brush cursor. The crosshair represents the sampling point, also known as the source. When you move the Healing Brush tool, the crosshair also moves, providing a constant reference to the area you’re sampling.

    • With Aligned deselected. Elements applies the source pixels from your initial sampling point, no matter how many times you stop and start dragging.

  6. Select the Sample All Layers option to heal an image by using all visible layers.

    If this option is deselected, then you heal from only the active layer.

    To ensure maximum editing flexibility later, select the Sample All Layers option 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 actual image; so, you can adjust opacity and blend modes and make other adjustments to the healed layer.

  7. Establish the sampling point by Alt-clicking (Option-clicking on the Macintosh).

    Make sure to click the area of your image that you want to clone from. In this example, a smooth area of the forehead was clicked.

  8. Release the Alt (Option on the Macintosh) key and click or drag over a flawed area of your image.

    Keep an eye on the crosshair because that’s the area you’re healing from. Brush over the wrinkles under and around the eyes and on the forehead. This guy never looked so good, and he endured absolutely no recovery time.

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