How to Do Digital Bandaging with the Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

In Photoshop CS6, the Healing Brush tool allows you to perform digital bandaging. It clones by using the texture from the sampled area (the source) and then the colors around the brush stroke when 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.

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

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/davidf Image #1746735]

    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/davidf Image #1746735
  2. On the Options bar, click the Brush Preset picker.

    In the drop-down panel, select your desired diameter and hardness, as well as spacing, angle, and roundness if you want, for your brush tip. You will most likely specify your brush settings several times while retouching your image. Using the appropriate brush size for the flaw you’re repairing is important.

    If you have a pressure-sensitive tablet, click the Tablet icon (at the end of the Options bar) to control the size of the brush. The pressure you apply will then override any settings in the Brush panel.

  3. On the Options bar, leave the blending mode set to Normal.

    You can change your blending mode, if necessary. The Replace mode preserves textures, such as Noise or Film Grain, around the edges of your strokes when using a soft brush. For most simple retouching jobs, such as this one, you can leave it at Normal.

  4. Select a Source option.

    You have a choice between Sampled and Pattern:

    • Sampled: You’ll probably use this option, which uses the pixels from the image, 99 percent of the time.

    • Pattern: You can probably infer that it uses pixels from a pattern you select from the Pattern Picker.

  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. While you move the Healing Brush tool, the crosshair also moves, providing a constant reference to the area that you’re sampling. However, if you deselect the Aligned option on the Options bar, Photoshop applies the source pixels from your original sampling point.

  6. Select the All Layers option from the Sample drop-down panel to heal an image by using all visible layers. Select Current Layer if you want to heal only from the active layer. Choose Current Layer and Below to heal from your active layer and all layers beneath it.

    You can use the Clone Source panel with the Healing Brush tool and the Clone Stamp tool.

    For maximum flexibility, select the Sample All Layers option and, in the Layers panel, add a new, blank layer above the image you want to heal. Select this blank layer and when you heal the image, the pixels appear on the new layer and not on the image itself. You can then adjust opacity and blending modes, and make other tweaks to the “healed” pixels.

  7. If you selected All Layers in Step 6, you can choose whether to ignore any adjustment layers when healing.

    By ignoring adjustment layers, you may prevent the bizarre results that can sometimes occur when your adjustment layers get double-applied during the healing process. To do so, click the Adjustment Layer icon on the Options bar.

  8. Establish the sampling point by Alt-clicking (Option-clicking on the Mac).

    Make sure to click the area of your image you want to clone from.

  9. 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 crosshair is located because that’s the area you’re sampling from.

  10. Save the file, close it, and send in your invoice for your digital dermabrasion.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/davidf Image #1746735]

    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/davidf Image #1746735