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Sally Jane Photographic Art

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial


Adobe Photoshop Tools - Healing Tools

healing toolsThe healing tools consist of the Spot Healing Brush Tool, the Healing Brush Tool, the Patch Tool and Red Eye Removal Tool. They all live together in the tools pallet and if the tool you require is not available just click and hold on the one that is and the others will appear on a drop down list.

Patch Tool

The patch tool icon looks just like a tiny patch. This tool works a little like the clone tool only far better as it will blend the new pixels to match the surroundings of the space they are given to occupy. It is great for removing sensor dirt, rubbish in backgrounds or bruises and scars on people plus much, much more. The more you practice with this tool the better you will get at it and the more applications you will find for this little life saver. It does, however, need some practice and getting used to as it has many quirks.

I'm going to demonstrate using a couple of images that were taken on a camera with a dirty sensor. The first one, below, shows dirty smudges in the sky.

sensor dirt image

Incase you can't make them out they are highlighted here. also if you click on the above image you can see a larger version.

sensor dirt image

When you select the patch tool you need to check the tools menu bar at the top of the screen and change a few settings where necessary.

patch tool

You need to make sure they are set as I have them here. In particular make sure Source radial button is selected.


patch toolDraw around the area you want to heal. It does not need to be too accurate, just a rough selection but try not to bring in any contrasting pixels. You will get a dotted line where you have drawn just like you do using the marquee tools.




patch toolNow drag this area to a clean area of sky. As you do you will see the patch icon change slightly.






patch toolIf you have the source radial button selected as I mentioned you should see the original area being replaced by the new area as you drag. Once you are happy with your new selection just release the mouse button and the new patch will be blended into place. The selection will still be active so you can drag again if you want to.



patch toolHit Ctrl + D on your keyboard to deselect the area and your blemish should be fixed. You are now ready to do the next one.






That is fine for blank areas such as cloudless skies but what about blemished that extend over other details. For this you need to take a little more care. In this next image we have the same areas of dirt as it was taken on the same camera only in portrait rather than landscape. One of the smudges goes over a line in the image.

patch tool

In case you are having trouble spotting the smudges I have highlighted them here. You may be able to see them better by making your eyes go slightly out of focus. Also If you click on the above image you can se a larger version.

patch tool

patch toolpatch tool

We will look and see what happens if we try to use the patch tool as described above to fix the blemish on the right that goes over the stay. If we draw around it and drag the selection to a clean area of sky this is what will happen when we release the mouse button.

patch tool patch tool

The stay line is removed as well. To ensure we keep the line we have to carefully drag the selection to a clean area of sky with part of the stay line running across it. Because you can see the new selection displayed in the original selected space you can align it perfectly.

patch tool patch tool

Now when you release the mouse button the patch is healed and the line is retained.

patch toolOK, so lets see how silly we can get with this. What would happen say, if we wanted to remove the top of the lighthouse?

Lets give it a go and see.






patch toolIf you simply select the area and drag it to a clean area of sky the tool does it's best to blend the edge pixels to the new surroundings. This will cause a blurred edge which in this case would not be welcome. No worries, it can still be done but we need to prepare the ground first.



Patch tool

By using the clone tool to separate the top of the lighthouse from the rest of the structure I am now able to use the patch tool without it causing any fussiness.

Patch tool

Patch tool

Ok so in reality you are not going to want to do this to this image but I have used this method to take out pylons, cranes, rogue cars and, perhaps more importantly for me, head collars on horses. (Pass your mouse over image below).

Patch tool


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