The Healing Brush – Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

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1. Why I Love The Healing Brush

When it comes to the healing tools in Photoshop we have three big options to choose from, The Spot Healing Brush, The Healing Brush, and The Patch tool. The Healing Brush is my weapon of choice because it gives me to most control. It allows me to choose where I am sampling from, brush size, blend modes, and more. I do use the Spot Healing brush and the Patch tool occasionally, but 95% of the time I default to the Healing Brush.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

2. Features Of The Healing Brush: Brush & Blend Modes

This tool has a brush which works just like any brush tool in Photoshop. We can also use a few of the Blend Modes that we’re used to having with our layers. Typically I use the ”Normal” mode which is like a combination of the Clone Stamp tool and this healing/blending brush. I also use the “Replace” mode which works much more like the Clone Stamp tool but preserves grain and texture. Additionally I use the “Lighten” mode when retouching some skin when I want to target the darker pixels only.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

3. Features Of The Healing Brush: Aligned, Sampling, Adjustment Layers

I almost always keep “Aligned” checked on. This moves your sample point as you move the brush around while healing. You also have the option to sample only from the layer you’re working on, or sample from the current layer as well as all layers below it, and also just sample from all layers. I always work with “Current & Below” when using the Healing Brush and only on special occasion will I jump to the “Current Layer” option.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

4. Prep The Healing Brush

The primary use of this tool is removing blemishes from the image. For my purposes I am usually using it for removing skin blemishes. You can use this tool to remove pretty well anything from a photo. Removing skin blemishes is a breeze just make the brush size slightly larger than the blemish you wish to remove and also set the hardness to “0%”. You can edit these settings by right-clicking your image with the Healing Brush tool.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

5. Heal On A New Layer

I almost always paint with my healing brush on a new layer so I can easily undo or see a quick before/after. Create a new layer and name is “Blemishes”. To make this work you want to make sure the Healing Brush is set to “Current & Below”.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

6. Start The Healing!

Hold down your Alt/Opt key to sample from a part of the image of similar brightness and texture of the area you want to heal and begin clicking and painting in very small clicks/strokes until all of the small blemishes that you want to get rid of are gone. See the before and after in the screenshot.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

 

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

7. Healing Lines And Wrinkles

Get rid of small lines and wrinkles in skin I like to size my brush down so it is barely larger than the line I’m looking to heal and then sample along side of the wrinkle or line and begin painting of the wrinkle or line one little bit at a time. NOTE: I will use this technique for removing flyaway hair over her face as well.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

 

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

8. Removing Fly Away Hairs

I use the Healing Brush tool to remove flyaway hairs that find themselves in front of the subject’s face. This can be tricky because often a hair flies over the eye. You want to watch the edges where colors and light come together. The trick is to sample these edges and heal from them by starting your brush stroke on the edge and paint away from that edge. This is primarily where this tool becomes a matter of your touch and feel.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

 

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

9. Removing Bags Under Eyes

Our model, Sarah does not have a problem with deep bags under her eyes in this photo, but often if the light source if a little too high or ambient light is a little more harsh than you would like your subject will have substantial bags under their eyes. I never try to remove them altogether. Instead I try to “lessen” them. We do this by creating a new layer and grabbing our Healing Brush. Set the brush size to about the height of the “bag” and I like to sample straight below where my brush is in the screenshot using the Alt/Opt + click to sample that skin area.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

10. Removing Bags Under Eyes Pt. II

Once we have sampled an area of skin we want to paint across under the eye in one stroke from the side closest to the nose outward taking care not to get too close to the lower eyelid (which is usually even darker) so we don’t mess up out Healing Brush’s vibe. When we make both swipes underneath her eyes we can see it still doesn’t look perfect, that leads us to the next step…

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

11. Finishing Touches

To make this look better simply reduce the opacity of the layer containing the healing work under her eyes until it looks good. Remember, the key here is to reduce the bags, not eliminate them. I reduced my opacity to 40%.

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

12. Final Tip

In addition to healing from high contrast edges, it is also a great idea to create a selection when healing up against a high contrast edge. I typically use the Lasso tool and drag a selection along the edge, taking extra care not to select any of the pixels that are contrasting with the pixels I want to heal. I then heal within that selection. That’s it! Go forth and enjoy the powers of the Healing Brush tool!

The Healing Brush - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

 

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