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Retouch and Healing Tools

Photoshop offers a large selection of tools and features for retouching photographs and images. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use the common touch-up tools.

Spot Healing Brush Tool

The Spot Healing Brush is primarily used to quickly remove blemishes, imperfections or other unwanted elements from an image. To use it, paint over an imperfection you’d like to get rid of using a suitable brush (brushes can be selected and modified in the options bar). The Spot Healing Brush Tool will automatically try to repair the imperfection by sampling the surrounding area.

This diagram illustrates how to use the spot healing brush tool.

Careful! Although the Spot Healing brush can be a great tool for quick fixes, it’s not always guaranteed to work if the area surrounding the imperfection is busy. Generally speaking, the surrounding area should be an approximate match in color & texture to what you want to take place of the unwanted element in your image.

Healing Brush Tool

The Healing Brush Tool performs a similar function to the spot healing brush tool mentioned above. Instead of automatically trying to determine the lighting, shading, and texture from the surrounding area, the healing brush tool lets you manually select a source, and then paint over an imperfection. To select a source, hold alt and click the desired part of the image. Then paint over the area you wish to replace. As with the Spot Healing Brush Tool, settings such as brush size can be controlled in the options bar.

To heal an area, select a source, and then paint over that area.

Patch Tool

With the Patch Tool, an entire area can be repaired with pixels from another area. Just like the healing brush tool, the patch tool will try to correct lighting, shading, and texture. To use the patch tool, first draw a selection with any of the selection tools (or the patch tool, which will function as a lasso tool). Then, using the patch tool, drag that selection over the destination you want to use to repair that area.

How to use the Patch Tool in Photoshop.

Clone Stamp Tool

The final tool we’ll cover in this tutorial is called the Clone Stamp Tool. The Clone stamp tool allows you to paint with a sample of an image.

Select a source area to use for painting by holding Alt and clicking.  Then paint as you would with any other brush.
Keep in mind that you are not healing/repairing an image when you use the Clone Stamp Tool. Therefore, lighting and shading will not be maintained when you paint over an area. What you see is literally what you get when you paint from a given source, making it very useful in certain situations.

Blur & Sharpen Tools

The Blur and Sharpen Tools allow us to manipulate edges by making them softer or harder. They do exactly what you would expect them to do; blur and sharpen.

Both tools have similar attributes such as Strength (increase or decrease the strength of the tool, or how much it will blur) and the brush, all of which can be adjusted in the Options Bar for each tool. To use the blur or sharpen tool, simply set up the brush to your specification, hold down the mouse button, and hover over the areas you’d like to alter in your image.

How to use the Blur and Sharpen Tools in Photoshop

You should have a pretty good feel of the basic retouching tools by now. The next step in mastering Photoshop is usually learning how to use the painting tools to compliment your photo remastering abilities!


  1. Add point Subtract point
    Tutorial Lounge (2 Points) March 17, 2011 at 8:16 am

    interesting tips. thanks

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  2. Add point Subtract point

    Although I am a 76 year old pensioner I am nevertheless new to Photoshop. I have taken a photo of a beautiful snow covered lane which I want to put a person in wearing a red coat. What is the easiest/simpleness way to do it without it looking false? Any help/advice would be much appreciated.

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  3. Add point Subtract point
    lujean (-6 Points) November 28, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    is there a way i can download spot healing brush for free? what site??

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    sarabjeet kaur (0 Points) October 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    its reaalyy awesome expanation for begginers ..
    thks 4 all lesson

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  5. Add point Subtract point
    Web Design (1 Point) April 26, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    thanks for sharing!

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  6. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลง (0 Points) March 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Thank you very much for your information

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  7. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลงฟรี (1 Point) March 13, 2010 at 1:04 am

    that’s really useful

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  8. Add point Subtract point
    COCOBOO (MAGGIE) (-2 Points) February 11, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    hey im so weird hahaha jk jk this is maggie! (COCO BOO)

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  9. Add point Subtract point
    Whats Up (-1 Points) February 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm

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  11. Add point Subtract point

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  12. Add point Subtract point
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  13. Add point Subtract point

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  14. Add point Subtract point

    ello mate this website isnt thatgood, mate you should fix it eh?

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  15. Add point Subtract point

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  16. Add point Subtract point
    jjfmfjkllfdjkl;sdf (0 Points) February 10, 2010 at 2:15 pm

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  17. Add point Subtract point

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  18. Add point Subtract point
    แจกเพลง (1 Point) February 3, 2010 at 12:06 am

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  19. Add point Subtract point

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  20. Add point Subtract point
    โค้ดเพลงhi5 (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 2:59 am

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  22. Add point Subtract point
    ดาวน์โหลดเพลงฟรี (1 Point) January 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

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  23. Add point Subtract point
    ดาวน์โหลดเพลงฟรี (1 Point) January 28, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Great article. Thank you.

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  24. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลงฟรี (3 Points) January 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm

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  25. Add point Subtract point

    Your site is very helpful for starters like me. thanks.

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  26. Add point Subtract point
    karen k (2 Points) November 11, 2009 at 3:50 am

    brilliant workshop, can I just say that it would be really useful to always have the icon of the tool you are talking about next to the name – found it a bt confusng in the healing tools section.


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  27. Add point Subtract point

    Techniques and results of a very good job

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  28. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks for the Photoshop basic, very well designed and example. I’m waiting for more from this website.

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  29. Add point Subtract point
    wonggeorge9 (2 Points) June 10, 2009 at 1:50 am

    hi, i am a begineer of photoshop, i find this site very useful for a beginner like me. The content is not only easy to understand but also tasteful. Thanks for your effort.

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  30. Add point Subtract point
    retoucher77 (3 Points) June 4, 2009 at 9:15 am

    that’s really useful and thank you for sharing with it :)

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  31. Add point Subtract point
    Derek Kimball (2 Points) May 24, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I must say I rarely use the healing brush tool. I know I should, but I find the clone stamp tool used with a soft brush seems to work for everything I need. Nice article! Your site is very clean and organized. I just bookmarked it.

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  32. Add point Subtract point
    Rana M. Asif Sultan (2 Points) May 22, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Dear Sir, Mr. David Leggett , Relay very helpful & interesting, informative, and easy to learn your all tutorials. thanks,Rana M. Asif Sultan, From Saudi Arabia

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  33. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (2 Points) May 3, 2009 at 4:39 am

    Wow really a great tutorial man! you really are awesome!

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  34. Add point Subtract point
    NANDAN (2 Points) April 30, 2009 at 1:10 am

    its just amazing thnx a lot…

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  35. Add point Subtract point
    hello (2 Points) March 30, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    hi, im a newbie to this and was wondering how your blur/sharpen certain areas of your picture?? when i use the blur filter the whole image blurs. thanks

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  36. Add point Subtract point
    Rachel (2 Points) March 6, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Thank you so much for posting these! They’re easy to understand, very clear, and extremely helpful!! Thanks again! ^_^

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  37. Add point Subtract point

    HI! This tutorial ive read is so fantastic. Im searching a lots of information about this photoshop. But this is so different from others so I’m glad and thankful that they had this site. It’s help me a lot to understand a photoshop and to create my own. Im hoping that someday I became as one author of this site.Thanks and God Bless Us…

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  38. Add point Subtract point

    it is a nice one ….i like this tutorials……thanks dude..

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  39. Add point Subtract point
    Janelle (2 Points) November 3, 2008 at 6:26 am

    Thanks so much for this great info. Being a new user to photoshop, I really appreciate the easy to understand tutorials and have learned heaps in next to no time.

    Thanks for your great work!

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  40. Add point Subtract point

    Incredible… I found out something new in this tut. I never understood until now how spot healing brush works and I never knew you can use patch tool with any selection. Thank you very much.

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  41. Add point Subtract point

    I just discovered your site through Google Reader today, and I am so glad I did! I’ve been teaching myself Photoshop, and your tutorials have made learning a lot easier (and fun too!).

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  42. Add point Subtract point

    Hi I’m a beginner and had tried to learn photoshop before and gave up because I could really understand the ins and outs of it. However I’ve just come across your site and I’m hooked up again. Any chance of inlcuding more practical examples similar to the one in “Working with Layers”.
    Once again thanks and really appreciate what you’re doing sharing your knowledge with us…

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  43. Add point Subtract point
    Rosalina (3 Points) August 25, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    how do u use the red eye tool?? ive never needed it, and i just realized i dont know how to use it!

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  44. Add point Subtract point
    Rosalina (3 Points) August 25, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Hi David i like your tutorials, ive read a couple and found out a lot of new things….and theyre all pretty easy to understand! you’re smart :P

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  45. Add point Subtract point
    Josh (3 Points) June 20, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Another nice tut.

    Just waiting to get off work, so I can
    re-read these last few tuts i’ve read
    through, so I can try them out myself.

    Keep up the good, thorough explanations!

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  46. Add point Subtract point
    DanOhh (3 Points) June 16, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks, I’m an old dog at Photoshop a I just learned a new trick from your site. Me like-y the Spot Healing Brush. I’ve alway used Healing and Clone Stamp and never messed with the newer brush. This old dog just learned a new trick.

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  47. Add point Subtract point
    Website Design (3 Points) June 14, 2008 at 5:44 am

    Thnks for a little tutorial

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  48. Add point Subtract point
    Mothership (3 Points) June 4, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Brilliant. Especially the last blur/sharpen example. This shows what sets magazine photos apart from the average person’s. Thanks David.

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  49. Add point Subtract point
    David (2 Points) June 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Really good job. Rollovers are nice too.

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  50. Add point Subtract point

    @ CJ.H – Thanks mate! You’ve been a real pleasure to have around here! The team and I will continue to try and keep up the quality in all of our future tutorials!

    @ Jimmy Root – Happens to me all the time, and I’ve been working in Photoshop for years. It’s strange sometimes when you realize how much time you can save with the smallest changes in your workflow, isn’t it?

    @ Matthew – Really nice work mate! Thanks for sharing! I love seeing results after writing a tutorial!

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  51. Add point Subtract point
    Jimmy Root (2 Points) May 8, 2008 at 7:46 am

    This stuff really is awesome. Just when I thought I knew my way around Photoshop, there’s always one little tip in each tutorial that is something new to me. Keep the awesome stuff coming man.


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  52. Add point Subtract point

    Awesome, I cant wait. Tutorial9 has some of the best tuts on the web, better written on average then any else I could find.

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  53. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks everyone! I really appreciate all of your kind words! Keeps me motivated, and very thankful for our kind community here at Tutorial9.

    @ CJ.H – We’ll be writing for all levels of Photoshop Users here at Tutorial9, and right now I’m pretty fixated on this “School of Photoshop” series. Once I’m through with this, we’ll have a really good base for beginner users to start from, and I can get back to more advanced Photoshop Tutorials ;) Stick around, you won’t be disappointed! Until then, you’re presence in the community is something we consider priceless!

    @ Marcus – With the help of the rest of the staff here at Tutorial9, we are frequently coming up with newer and better ways to better explain and teach. The rollover demonstrations are just one of the many ways we here at Tutorial9 are doing everything we can to help folks like you. You may have also noticed the useful asides that are starting to show up in Tutorials (More Info, Tip, Caution, Note, etc).

    By the way, the beautiful icons used in those asides were designed by our very own Fredrik Silverglimth.

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  54. Add point Subtract point
    Marcus (2 Points) April 27, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Very well explained David. You should definitely use those rollover examples more often. They help show what you mean very well.

    Keep it up man!

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  55. Add point Subtract point

    It is a very good tutorial, but I wish Tut9 will start offering some more advanced stuff soon.

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  56. Add point Subtract point

    Now thats what you call a tutorial. Thats astounding, very well layed out, easy to understand and it even learned me a few things. Keep them coming david! They are just amazing.

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