How to Use the Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop

  • Thread starter Cameron
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May 10, 2021
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  • #1
Both the Healing Brush and the Spot Healing Brush tools in Adobe Photoshop are incredibly awesome. They both allow the user (you and me) to remove blemishes, wrinkles, spots, creases, and just about anything else we don't want in a photo. If memory serves, the Spot Healing Brush tool arrived on the scene a while after the regular Healing Brush did. The Healing Brush has been with us almost since the beginning. Remember, Adobe Photoshop has been around since 1990. It was actually created in 1988, but later released to the public in 1990. Now that's an old program that's been improved upon substantially.

Healing Brush vs. Spot Healing Brush​

Both tools are great, but one makes life a lot easier to deal with than the other does. The primary difference between these tools is that with the Healing Brush, we must first sample an area of an image that we'd like to use as a replacement for another area. To do this, we have to hold the Alt button down on the keyboard and then click the replacement area. That's called sampling. Once that's done, Photoshop stores the sampled area in its memory and then uses that pattern to "paint" over areas of our choosing. While this works wonderfully for many corrections, it fails quite a bit. The primary shortcoming with this tool is that a sample area might not be available to choose from. Also, if there are slight gradients in an image, the painted, or corrected, area might show obvious editing. On the flip side, it's great at painting an accurate pattern over another area. There's no blur to worry about.

The Difference Between the Two Tools​

With the Spot Healing Brush tool, we don't need to sample any area. All we need to do is paint over the spots we want to fix. Photoshop does all the sampling automatically. It basically samples the area around the area where we're painting and updates and adjusts as the paint brush moves across the canvas. So, as you can imagine, not a lot of effort needs to be put in by the person editing the photo. There is a downside though and that's blur. I've corrected areas before with this tool and have found that it's not great at actually replacing the area that needs correcting with a proper and accurate pattern. It instead blurs some colors together, which doesn't look very lifelike in some cases. So really, as editors, we need to choose our tools wisely. The Spot Healing Brush tool is perfect for solid smooth gradient areas while the Healing Brush tool is great for patterned areas. Although, I must say that the Spot Healing Brush tool has come a long way and is nearly perfect today. If I had to choose one tool to work with, it would be this one.

Using the Healing Brush Tools​

To access both of these tools, you'll need to head over to the left toolbar and click and drag the eighth tool down to the right.


You'll see both tools sitting on top of one another; the Spot tool on top and the other beneath that. The moment either one is clicked for use, a new options bar up top, above the workspace will appear. To the left, you'll find the primary controls for these tools.


I mostly concern myself with Size and Hardness. Size controls the size of the brush and Hardness controls the hardness. Hardness is the gradient of the edges of the brush. The hardest brush will have a very sharp edge, while the softest brush would have a much smoother gradient. Here's an example of a hard brush on the left and a soft brush on the right. I'll also throw some large and small brush examples in as well.


Healing & Spot Healing Brush Examples​

I'll start out with the Healing Brush tool. I'll set my brush to 40 pixels for the size and 45% for the hardness. I'll keep these settings for all the examples. I'll sample right outside the area I'd like to correct by holding the Alt key down and then clicking with my mouse. Then, I'll simply paint over the area I'd like to correct. Before I even click my mouse button to paint, I'll see the samples area hovering over the photograph. Here's the result.


Do you see the corrected area on the left? The water stain was circular, but I fixed a portion of it, just to make the affected area obvious. I'd say that looks very good. Now I'll try doing the same thing with the Spot Healing Brush tool with the same settings. Let's see if we can see a difference between the two tools.


This correction looks very good as well. The pattern was transferred to the corrected area nearly perfectly. There is one hiccup though. When using the regular Spot Healing Brush tool, you can correct right up to the edge of anything. There's no distortion of patterns at all because you're merely laying a new pattern over the old. With the Spot Healing Brush tool however, Photoshop is sampling the areas around the entire brush as it's painting, so if you get to an area where you'd like to stop and there are strange colors or shades there, Photoshop may think those shades belong inside the corrected area. If you look at the image above, I've circled a portion of the water stain that was distorted by Photoshop. This isn't supposed to happen. It just does. That's why folks say this tool is best used for isolated corrections, where an entire area can be painted over.

Let's take a look at another example. This is the original area to be corrected. I'd like to remove the upside down T.


This is the Healing Brush tool's result. I sampled an area next to the letters and then painted right over the T.


And this is the Spot Healing Brush tool's result. I simply painted right over the T.


Both results are nearly identical. You'll find that for removing spots and things like spots, these tools are great. You may get frustrated with the Healing Brush tool when you're in close quarters and you can't get a nice sample. You may also get frustrated with the Spot Healing Brush tool when you're painting near edges and Photoshop decides to pull those edges into your correction and make a mess of things. But overall, these tools are excellent.

Do you have any questions regarding these Photoshop tools? Do you have any experience with them? Would you like to offer some commentary? If so, please add whatever you'd like down below. Thanks!


May 10, 2021
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  • #2

How To Non-Destructively Use the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop​

There’s one word that Adobe has tried to minimize the profoundness of through the years. One word that used to be serious, but really isn’t nearly so anymore. That word is “whoops.” Back in the early part of this century, saying “whoops” meant a lot more than it does today. Back then, if you screwed something up, there was a good chance you’d have to re-do a heck of a lot of work. Because of all the non-destructive attributes of today’s Photoshop, screwing something up isn’t something to concern yourself with at all. Just go back a few steps and fix it. Believe me though, back in 2000, it was awful. Today is a breeze. The challenge now is to take advantage of what Photoshop has to offer. And that’s what I try to discuss in posts like these. Just how to do that.

In today’s post, I’d like to show you how to use one of Photoshop’s most popular tools, the Spot Healing Brush Tool. Besides the Crop Tool and the Move Tool, this is one of the very first areas of experimentation new editors visit inside of Photoshop. Every photographer who uses Photoshop surely knows about the Spot Healing Brush Tool. It’s rather effective at removing all sorts of things from a photograph, such as dust, small objects, clouds and strange artifacts. If you’re a photographer, you definitely want to familiarize yourself with this tool.

While the Spot Healing Brush Tool is very effective, it can also give you a world of hurt if you don’t execute it the proper way. It’s tempting to click on its icon in the toolbar to activate it, choose a brush size and hardness and have at it. If you follow this sequence of events, you can click to your heart’s content and make your photos look wonderful. The issues arise when you discover that you’ve made a mistake. Either you removed something you didn’t intend to remove or your removal smudged somewhat and doesn’t look good. Whatever the case, you’d like to re-do whatever it was that you did, but you can’t. The action may have occurred twenty steps ago and getting all the way back there means losing all the work you did after that step. Luckily, there’s a better method for taking advantage of this tool and that’s what I’ll explain to you below.

The Demo Photo​

I wanted to use a picture that had lots of stuff to make disappear. I came to the conclusion that one with stars in it would work perfectly. In the photo I found, there are dozens of stars and their manipulation will be obvious once I get the ball rolling.


Setting Up the File​

In this section, I’ll set up the file in question to best remove the stars in the photo. I’ll show you how to do this non-destructively, so if you ever wanted to show any of them at a later date, you could.

Since the photo is already opened up in Photoshop, I don’t need to do that. What I will do is use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+0 to enlarge the image so it fits perfectly inside of my workspace. Then, I’ll head over to the Layers panel and create a new layer that sits above the bottom image layer. I’ll do this by clicking on the New Layer icon at the bottom of this panel.


After the layer is created, I’ll see that I have a potential “shield” against any changes I make to the image. This empty layer is where the changes will be made, not the image itself.

The final step for the setup is to head over to the left vertical toolbar and to click on the Spot Healing Brush Tool.


Then, up in the options bar, I’ll choose the brush size and hardness that I’d like to use during this operation as well as press the Content-Aware button and make sure the Sample All Layers box is checked.


Without checking the Sample All Layers box, Photoshop won’t know that I intend to use the empty layer as a shield. When I select that layer and begin removing the stars with the tool, nothing will happen. By sampling all the available layers, the tool will travel right through the empty layer and remove the stars beneath it. The true benefit lies in the fact that the actual “removal” will happen on the empty layer, leaving the bottom image layer untouched.

Removing the Stars​

At this point, I can begin removing the stars. Again, I’ll need to be sure the top, empty layer is selected before I begin clicking around. For this example, I’ll remove a good number of stars, just so you can see a change.


How’s that? Can you see that I removed some stars? I didn’t want to go crazy because I’d have to sit here all day to get rid of them all, but I think the change is apparent.

Bringing the Stars Back​

Let’s pretend that someone walked over and told me that I was supposed to keep the center area of stars for some reason and that I had made a mistake by removing them. If I didn’t apply my changes to a new layer, I’d have to start the entire project over again. But, since I executed this project in a non-destructive manner, I’m safe and any correction is rather simple. Before I go any further, let me show you what the top layer now looks like, since I used the Spot Healing Brush Tool.


Do you see that? If I hide the top layer by clicking on the small eye icon to the left of it, all the stars will reappear. To bring back anything I removed is rather simple. All I need to do is use the Eraser Tool and erase a spot from the top layer that I’m interested in making reappear on the bottom layer.

I’ll activate the Eraser Tool in the left vertical toolbar and set the attributes in the options bar up above.


Then, I’ll make sure the top layer in the Layers panel is selected by clicking on it and I’ll erase whatever it is I want to show again.


And it’s that easy. Of course, it makes sense to hide the bottom image layer as you’re erasing because you’ll have a better view of what it is you’re doing, but once you’re finished, you can make that layer visible again to view your genius. Done!


Wow, that was an easy one, but very helpful indeed. I hope I clearly explained how to remove spots and objects in Adobe Photoshop using the Spot Healing Brush Tool in a non-destructive manner. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

COMMENT: This was more helpful then the Photoshop CC book I bought for $50. Thanks!

COMMENT: Thanks a lot for creating such a great tutorial!

COMMENT: Very helpful. Thank you! Saved me in my Digital Media class.


May 10, 2021
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  • #3

Working With the Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop​

Just a few days ago, I wrote a post where I discussed the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Abode Photoshop. I love the Spot Healing Brush Tool and use it with almost every single photograph I edit. The thing is, the more I used this tool, the more I discover its shortcomings. And really, those shortcomings are primarily its unpredictability.

I have found that, at times, when I use the Spot Healing Brush Tool, I get the weirdest and most unexpected results. It’s like Photoshop didn’t take anything I wanted it to into account. I get strange blurs and different artifacts thrown into the area I’m attempting to repair. Because of this, I call this tool somewhat unpredictable. To remove a spot using using this tool, you’re putting almost all of your faith into an algorithm to get things right. Sometimes that algorithm does a terrible job. Don’t worry, I’ll show you an example of this below.

At times, I like to take back some of the control I lose with the Spot Healing Brush. The trade off with taking back control is a higher learning curve. The good part is, every tool available in Photoshop has a learning curve and none of those curves are very high at all, no matter how you use them.

In today’s post, I’d like to discuss the cousin to the tool I mentioned above. In this post, I’m going to cover the Healing Brush Tool. Just get rid of the “Spot” and there you have it. Both tools are similar in that they can remove objects you don’t want to see in a photo, but the latter allows the editor to choose a source area to replace the object with. Also, as you begin to take advantage of this new tool, you’ll discover that while you can choose the source, Photoshop actually blends the replacement area with the colors and textures of the surrounding area, giving you a much better blend. It’s a great tool to know how to use properly.

The Demo Photo​

When writing posts like this, I have to look around for good photos to use as examples. Today, I found one that has tire tracks in a field that would be fun to try to remove. I felt that this photo was suitable because the tire tracks are in a textured area and they are on a horizon of sorts. Because of these attributes, the first tool I mentioned above won’t be able to do a good job while the second one will. Take a look at the picture.


If this photo looks familiar it’s because I have used it before on this site.

Messing Up With the Spot Healing Brush Tool​

To learn about the Spot Healing Brush Tool, please read through the post I link to below. In this section, I’m merely going to give you an example of a poorly executed removal. This is what I was referring to above.

How To Non-Destructively Use the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop

Now, I’ll go ahead and use this tool to try to remove the tire tracks in one fell swoop. Let’s see the result of this effort.


If you look inside the red circle, you’ll see that there are some odd swirls and replacement patches that don’t look good at all. The reason for this is that, when pulling from other areas to use as a replacement, Photoshop didn’t know exactly where to pull from. The result is a conglomeration of different pixels.

Activating the Healing Brush Tool​

Since the Healing Brush Tool can be set to pull from a specific area, it’s better suited for edits like the one I’d like to undertake in this photo. I’ll go ahead and activate the tool now. I’ll head over to the left toolbar and click and drag the tool I just used out to the right, so the remaining choices are exposed.


I’ll click Healing Brush Tool and the moment I do that, I’ll notice the options bar up top change. There are a few options I want you to be aware of.


Mode: This drop-down menu offers a few different blending modes you can use while healing an area. Currently, the selection is limited and includes Normal, Replace, Multiply, Screen, Darken, Lighten, Color and Luminosity.

Source: With this tool, you can choose to repair an area by either taking a sample from another source in the photo, as I mentioned above, or you can fill the area to be repaired with a pattern. Choose one of these options to activate it. If you decide to go with the pattern, you have the ability to select that pattern from the Pattern panel.

Aligned: There are two methods for acquiring the sample to repair an area with. You can choose to take a sample and to continue using those specific sample coordinates for all repairs you make, whether or not you let go of the mouse button. You get this when the Aligned box is left unchecked. If you check the Aligned box, Photoshop will forget about that sampled area every time you let go of the mouse button. It will use a new area to repair specific coordinates.

Sample: When taking a sample, you can identify which layer you’d like to make your selection from. With the Healing Brush Tool, there are three choices. The first choice is the Current Layer. Then, there’s Current & Below and finally is All Layers. These three options are contained in a drop-down menu.

Diffusion: This setting controls what can be perceived as the edge of the repair area. For a more defined edge, lower this value and for a smoother edge, choose a higher value. You may want to keep this value low if you are healing areas with very defined patterns, such as a bush (twigs) or grass blades. If you’re in larger areas with less detail, such as a desert, you can raise the value.

Removing the Tire Tracks​

Using this tool will take some practice, so I encourage you to do a lot of experimenting. After a few uses, you’ll be flying around like you’ve known how to do it forever.

To start off, I’ll size the healing brush so it is large enough to cover the tracks with one fell swoop. Then, to take my sample, I’ll hold down the Alt key on my keyboard. Then, after I see the mouse pointer change to something that looks like a bulls eye, I’ll click the left mouse button to take the actual sample. In the screenshot below, I’ll place a circle around the area I sampled from.


After I take the sample, the brush will be filled with a snapshot of that area. I’ll be able to move the brush around and click and drag to fill an area in. In my case today, I’ll click to the right of the tree, right under the horizon and drag to the right until the tire tracks are “healed.”


After I’m finished, I’ll let go of the mouse to see how things look.


I’d say that looks pretty good. Now, if I wanted to go one step further, I could perform this task in a non-destructive manner. To learn how to do that, I suggest you read through this previous post I just wrote a few days ago.


I hope I thoroughly explained how to use the Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!


May 10, 2021
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  • #4

Advanced Tactics For Fine Tuning the Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop​

This is going to be sort of a weird post. I usually write about straightforward topics, but today, I thought I’d give you something that you could “chew on” more than use right away. More of an idea or a concept, if you will.

I recently wrote a few articles that talked about using the Spot Healing Brush Tool and the Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop. If you’re interested, you can view both of those posts by clicking through the links below.

How To Non-Destructively Use the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop

Working With the Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop

Between these two resources, I talked about how to best take advantage of the basic functions of the tools in question as well as how to go about using them in a non-destructive manner. They were very informative posts, so I highly encourage you to take a quick glance at them, at the very least.

In today’s post, I’d like to move things one step further and offer two tips for how to use the Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop. The first tips is good for some situations while the second one probably has more opportunity for use under the right circumstances. Please continue reading below because, again, you may remember what I share today and the lesson may serve you well down the road.

The Demo Photo​

The reason I chose this photo was two-fold. First, there’s a small window in it. I needed that to explain and discuss my first tip. Also, on the wall, stucco (or something similar) was used, which resulted in a textured pattern. I needed this pattern for the second tip. While I won’t be able to show you exactly what I’m referring to for the second tip with this photo, I’ll use an additional photo to get my point across. I’ll display this additional photo below as well.

This is the first one.


And this is the second one. This tip builds off the idea of using the Healing Brush Tool in a non-destructive manner and the extra layer you’ll nee to do so. It’s a very helpful idea.


Shrinking, Duplicating or Moving an Object​

Okay, let’s get going. The first photo is already opened in its own tab inside of Photoshop. I’m going to activate the Healing Brush Tool over in the left vertical toolbar and size it so it fits my project. Then, I’ll create a new layer in the Layers panel so I can work on this photo non-destructively (see more about that here). After that, I’ll take a sample of the wall by holding the Alt key down on my keyboard and by clicking somewhere on the stucco. In the screenshot below, I’ll circle the sample area in red.


After I take the sample, I can begin coloring in the window from the bottom up. I’ll make sure my new layer is active in the Layers panel before I draw.

Take a look at this next screenshot. After drawing some of the area of the window, I clicked and dragged the new layer over to the side, so you could get a clear picture of what happened. You can see that I kept a hard edge on the brush I was using and you can also see the size of the brush as well.


As you can see, the Healing Brush Tool basically clones an area. And since I did this on its own layer, I can use that layer to move the cloned area around. My goal for this first project is to shrink the window. I’ll go ahead and move the cloned area over the bottom of the window, so it’s smaller than it was before.


See? Now the window isn’t as low to the ground as it was originally.

My point with sharing this concept is to convey that the Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop can be used for much more than simply hiding things. It can also be used to clone areas or to even move things around.

If I wanted to relocate the window closer to the door, I could take a different sample from an area to the right of the window. I circled that area in the screenshot below.


Now, if I draw over the entire window and the area to the left of it, I can essentially move the window over to the left. Again, since I did this in a new layer, I can slide the area I drew around at my leisure. I placed it on the door again, so you can see what I did.


If I put the window back to where it was initially drawn, it’ll replace the window’s original location and will blend right into the wall because of the way the Healing Brush Tool works. It not only heals, but it blends with the target background as well. Let’s see the final result with this.


Finally, if I wanted to duplicate the window, I could take my sample from the window itself. My sample area is circled in red below.


If I start drawing to the left of the window, a straight-up duplicate will appear. Again, I moved my drawing over on top of the door, so you can see what I did.


If I move it back to where I initially drew it, it would again blend in with the background texture.


You have to admit, that’s pretty cool. In Photoshop, you can use the Healing Brush Tool for a lot of tasks similar to this. This is why I wanted to make you aware of it. Because of its versatility. You can move people, get rid of trees, duplicate bridges – all sorts of stuff.

Making Minor Adjustments to Healed Areas​

Oftentimes, an area that you heal (the target) won’t line exactly up with the area you pulled the healing area from (the source). In this final section, I want to show you a small tip that may help you out in this regard, especially if you’re working with patterns.

Let’s say there’s something I would like to cover up at the center of this next photo. I know there’s nothing there, so we’ll have to use our imaginations.

I’ll go ahead and take a sample from somewhere towards the side of the photo. Then, I’ll draw over the center area, to cover up the object. In this screenshot below, I shifted the drawn area around a bit so you can see what I did. I also encapsulated the drawing in red.


Now, as you can imagine, many patters don’t line up exactly as they are supposed to. There are minute differences in size and distance of areas among the pattern. Because of this, it’s helpful to transform the replicated area to help it line up.

In this example, I’m going to make sure the layer with the healing area is selected in the Layers panel and then I’ll press Ctrl+T to activate the Free Transform function of Photoshop (after moving the area back to where it originated). When I active the Free Transform function, a bounding box will appear.


Sometimes, you can get away with simply enlarging or shrinking the replicated area. Most of the times though, you’ll need to distort it. Since the healed area is on its own layer again, this is very simple.

To distort an active transform bounding box, all you need to do is to hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and click and drag a corner.

If you look closely at the screenshot above, you’ll see that the bounding box has been distorted. While the image I’m using doesn’t call for any correction, you can definitely see how tiny nudges in any direction might help line up, say, a chain link fence. Or a staircase or any repetitive pattern for that matter. I just wanted to throw this out there.

If you’d like to learn more about warping and distorting layers and objects in Adobe Photoshop, please take a look at these posts below.

Using the Transform & Free Transform Tools in Adobe Photoshop

Keyboard Shortcuts for Skew, Distort & Perspective Transform in Adobe Photoshop

How To Warp Objects & Text in Adobe Photoshop


This is the close of another post. I hope I helped you out by giving you some ideas for how to use the Healing Brush Tool in a few non-conventional ways. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!


May 10, 2021
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  • #5

Clearing Skin with the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop​

Before I begin this post, I’d like to say that I love freckles. I have nothing against freckles in any way, shape or form. That said, I think freckles are perfect for writing a post about how to clear skin using the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop. Do you know how difficult it is to locate a photo of someone with facial blemishes? If not, I’ll tell you. It’s really difficult. I couldn’t find a single one that was worth using. That’s why I decided to go with the one with freckles in it. In real life though, I wouldn’t want to remove any of these freckles because each and every one is beautiful.

In today’s post, I’m going to show you the proper method for removing any type of skin blemish using Adobe Photoshop. It’s really easy to do. Actually, I do this type of thing so much, it’s almost second nature. There is a step involved, though, that can save a lot of time later on, so be sure to read on below. It’s probably the most important step of the entire operation.

Demo Photograph​

The photo I’ll be using for this post is below. I think it’s just perfect because there are so many freckles that could possibly be removed. Down in a later section, I’ll show you why this is a good thing.


The Spot Healing Brush Tool​

The tool in question is currently the seventh one down in the left vertical toolbar, as can be seen in the screenshot below.


It’s the first one in the flyout. Also, if you’ll notice in the screenshot as well, there are some options in the options bar up top. For this project, I’ll be using the Normal mode, the Content-Aware type and I’ll be sampling all layers.

Removing Freckles & Blemishes​

The first thing I want to do before I actually begin removing any skin blemishes is to create a new layer that sits above the photo layer. Think about this step as the equivalent of laying a piece of plastic wrap over a photograph that you have resting on your kitchen table. If you drew on the plastic wrap with a magic marker, you’d certainly be making some visible changes, but you wouldn’t be affecting the photo at all. Since I want this process to be non-destructive, this top layer is essential.

For this new layer to be effective, I need to make sure I have the Sample All Layers box checked in the options bar up top. If that box wasn’t checked, all the Spot Healing Brush would be taking into account is the top, empty, layer. Since I want the healing brush to dig through all the available layers, I’ll need to make sure I’m using the correct setting. This extra layer and sample all layers step is what I was referring to above. This is extremely important. Just imagine removing every single blemish on someone’s face and then having your boss walk by and tell you that they changed their mind. Put them all back. Believe me, this happens. In this case, all you’d have to do is to delete the top layer that’s holding the alterations. I’ll show you what that would look like below.

Once the settings in the option bar have been made, it’s off to the races. I’ll size the brush itself by pressing the [ and ] keys on my keyboard to shrink and enlarge it. I like the brush size to be about twice the size of the blemish. Once that done, I’ll simply begin clicking on anything I would like removed.

I went ahead and clicked on a whole bunch of freckles. You can’t really tell, but many of them are now gone.


Don’t believe me? Well, if I hide the photo layer and just show the top, plastic wrap layer, you can easily see every freckle I removed.


Again, this top layer is there to protect the bottom one.

Using the Eraser Tool to Bring Back Removed Blemishes​

What if I made a mistake and would like to bring back a blemish (or freckle in this case) I removed earlier? Since I used a protective layer, this isn’t an issue at all. All I would need to do is activate the Eraser Tool and start erasing.


As long as I’m sure to erase on the top layer with the dots on it, I can flip back and forth between which layer is visible. Sometimes it’s helpful to see the photo layer underneath and sometimes it’s helpful to see just the layer with the removed blemishes on it. Either way, there’s a lot of flexibility here.


Really, this is all there is to it. It’s so much easier to remove skin blemishes in Photoshop than it has ever been. I could tell you stories from 2001. I don’t want to bore you, but I’ll tell you that this type of task was miserable. Ugh. Anyway, if you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!


May 10, 2021
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  • #6

How to Undo Random Spot Healing Brush Tool Corrections in Adobe Photoshop​

Out of all the posts I write, I’d have to say that small tip posts are my favorite. I love learning these tips and I love sharing them with you. It’s that tiny high people get from reading about or watching something they’re interested in learning and then saying, “Ah ha!” when they figure things out. I love that and I promise to show you as many tips as I possibly can, right here on this website.

In today’s post, I’d like to talk about one very small area of cleaning photos up using the Spot Healing Brush Tool. I know I’ve already discussed this tool before and that I demonstrated the proper method for using it, but there is one thing I missed. Well, I most likely missed a lot more things than just one, but there’s one really important aspect of how to best use the tool that I have yet to discuss.

I’d like to show you how you can use this tool to remove any type of blemish in a photo. Then, I’d like to demonstrate how you can undo one or more of your corrections. The method I’ll show you is super simple and can save many a headache. I know how frustrating it can be to go back and try to remove corrections. It’s a real pain.


Let’s face facts here. Even though I wrote a post explaining the proper procedure for using the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop, I know that not many people are going to use it. What really happens is that editors quickly open a photo, grab the tool, resize their brush and start removing blemishes by clicking around. Just like that. They don’t take the additional steps to create a new layer and then to check the box that says Sample All Layers. In all honesty, the reason very few people take these additional precautions is because they don’t need to. Most corrections are fast and dirty and really, you get identical results, no matter how you go about things. The issues arise when you find that you need to undo something. Or change something. Or put things back the way they originally were. If you don’t create that additional layer, you’re going to be stuck with a photo you destructively edited.

To see what I’m referring to when I talk about this additional layer, please take a look at this post below.

Clearing Skin with the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop

Demo Photo​

For this post, I’ll be using the photo below.


The reason I chose this one is because the girl in the photo has a few freckles. As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, I have nothing against freckles, it’s just that it’s a real challenge to locate photos of people with acne. Those types of photos would be my first choice, but freckles are fine.

Removing Some Blemishes​

In this section, I’m going to go about the quick and dirty method for removing blemishes in Photoshop. The photo is already opened in the application, so I’ll head over to the left vertical toolbar and select the Spot Healing Brush Tool.


From there, I’ll resize my brush, add an appropriate amount of feather and remove a few freckles. Here’s my result.


As you can see there are fewer freckles. If I wanted to, I could save this file out and get on with my day. The problem is, if I didn’t create that additional layer to protect me, I might be stuck if someone were to ask me to make a change in regards to a blemish I just removed. Let’s take a look at the History panel, so I can show you just how difficult things would be.


Do you see what I’m talking about? How in the heck am I supposed to know which freckle removal belongs to which history layer? And even if I could find out, if I were to click on one of those states, everything after it would be gone. I’d have to redo work I already did, which is a waste of time and money.

Filling in with History​

I have a really great method for getting around this little issue. I’m going to show you right now. To demonstrate, I’ll need to draw some guides to remind me where the freckle I’m about to remove is.


I’ll use the Spot Healing Brush Tool to remove the freckle. I won’t show you a screenshot of what the result looks like, because you already know. The freckle will just be gone.

Okay, let’s say I did a huge number of corrections on this girl’s face and someone then asked me to recover the freckle on the forehead – you know, the one I have in the crosshairs of the guide. How can I get back just that freckle without touching anything else? Check this out.

I’m going to use the Lasso Tool to draw a selection around the area where the freckle was. I can use any tool, but it’s a good habit to get into using the Lasso Tool because it has the ability to draw such custom shapes.

lasso-tool.jpg lasso-selection.jpg

Next, I’ll right-click inside the selection and choose Fill.


When the Fill dialog box appears, I’ll click the Contents drop-down box and then I’ll select History.


I’ll click on the OK button and, bam, the freckle will magically reappear.


The really cool part about this approach to solving the problem is that we’re able to draw as large of a selection as we want to. It I wanted to select the entire image to bring back the original state of things, I could. It’s that versatile. Give this a try, I think you’ll like the results.

I hope I clearly explained how to go about undoing unintended blemish removals using the Fill dialog box in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!