The Spot Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements 13 - dummies

The Spot Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements 13

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Whereas the Healing Brush in Elements is designed to fix larger flawed areas, the Spot Healing Brush is designed for smaller blemishes and little imperfections, with the exception of the Content-Aware option.

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 that 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.

Follow these steps to quickly fix imperfections with the Spot Healing Brush tool:

  1. In the Photo Editor, in Expert mode, open your image and grab the Spot Healing Brush tool from the Tools panel.


    The diamond nose ring on this lovely hip senior, on the left, is no match for the power of the Spot Healing Brush.

    [Credit: © Image #5791196]
    Credit: © Image #5791196
  2. In the Tool Options, click the Brush Presets Picker and select a brush tip. Adjust the size as needed with the Size slider.

    Try to select a brush that’s a little larger than the flawed area you want to fix.

  3. Select a Blend mode in the Tool Options.

    Just as with the Healing Brush, you can select the Replace mode. Most likely, the Normal mode works the best.

  4. Select a type in the Tool Options:

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

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

    • Content-Aware: If you want to eliminate something larger or more substantial than a nose ring, mole, or freckle, this is the option to use. This option takes actual content from the image and uses it as a kind of patch for the flawed area. You can delete large objects with the Content-Aware option. Here, the 21st-century signs were eliminated from the front of the 17th-century barn.


      You may have to paint over the offending object a couple times to get your desired result. Also keep in mind that you may need to do some touching up with the Clone Stamp or other healing tools. Ours is a little smudgy in parts and could use a bit of touching up.

    Try Proximity Match first, and if it doesn’t work, undo and try Create Texture or Content-Aware.

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

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

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