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How to Use The Patch Tool in Photoshop

Last Updated on November 1, 2020 by Devaun Lennox

Hello my friends today we are about to do some basic skin retouching – this image here that I took last week with creative team of mine this is our model Sierra we’re gonna be talking about how to do and one simple tool a basic retouch focusing on blemish removal and skin smoothing so this right here their before image and if we scoot over here that side this is the after image with this tool that and technique that I’m about to show you guys it’s very very slow this is definitely not in my preferred way of doing this this technique when it comes to skin smoothing but nonetheless my goal is to show you guys all the techniques that are available

So that you can make an educated decision as far as which technique is gonna be best suited for you but in about five minutes I was only able to get just through the forehead right here but that’s the before and after that’s where we’re gonna be tackling right now so let’s head over into Photoshop as with all the videos that we’re posting on this channel as far as Photoshop is concerned I am using a Wacom or Wacom tablet there are function keys that are

on the tablet that have been customized I will be doing a video on how to actually customize and set this tablet tablet up for usage with Photoshop and Lightroom and a couple of software programs but long story short the only shortcuts that you need to know is that I’m gonna be using a command option Z which is backspace and that’s a function key that’s already set up on my tablet I am using the included stylus as well so I will not be using a trackpad to do any of this stuff that you’re gonna see me do so first things first load the image up in the Photoshop

we’re gonna hit right here and select new layer the only reason I’m doing this is that I like to I prefer to work non-destructive non-destructively and to do so it’s it’s best to start working on new layers and then changing the blend modes and a couple other key factors that will allow you to do a non-destructive retouching technique or skin smoothing technique on that blank layer as opposed to the main bottom layer which is that background layer that’s locked right here I’d prefer to work on these guys so we’re gonna start with opening up a new layer on

normal a hundred percent opacity fill one hundred percent we’re not changing any of those settings so we’re gonna go right here over to our brush my brush panels that have the Spot Healing Brush healing brush tool and today we’re actually am using the patch tool so let’s kind of zoom in because we were not gonna be able to get super super far in just a handful of minutes this tool is a little bit slower I don’t normally use this tool for the full purpose that I’m showing you guys but again goals to showcase how to do some of this stuff I do use this tool however

quite often but just not for the purpose that I’m not sure you guys right now so how do we use the patch tool on a blank layer so you have to go up here this is the brush settings for the the patch tool it’s normally set to a patch of normal we’re gonna actually set that to content-aware so that we can go over here and select sample all layers if you leave it here on normal it’s only gonna it’s gonna go under the assumption that when you’re patching your patching on the actual layer that has pixels in it this layer right here is just a blank layer it doesn’t have any

information at all leaving that mode on normal only works if there’s actually information there whether it be color or an actual image whatever they may be it needs to see pixels to actually be in the patch since we’re not doing it that way we have to go down to content aware and then select sample all layers which allows us to use this tool non-destructively so I’m gonna spend the next roughly about six seven minutes and and just kind of show you how far we can get in that short amount of time and then give you some talking points as far as best practices on

how to use this tool and then also best practices as far as how to set it up and and what is it best at and some kind of some other kind of funky results that you can get if you you’re not really using it properly but let’s let’s just hop and jump right in and shall we just heads-up when I’m using this particular tool the way that it samples it’s gonna be very laggy I’m just letting you guys know as as as we kind of begin just as caveat so what you’re doing patch tool you are literally just selecting area dragging over to an area that you’d prefer to be I’m starting in glory

but you’re you’re basically just dragging around a blemish or an area and then you’re gonna like click and drag and then Photoshop is going to analyze the color texture and tone of that area that you are moving the sample to and and then it’s going to basically use an algorithm and based on where you actually want that layer to be poke that like paste it or put it down it’s gonna do its best to blend it according to some of the settings that you have up here I need to do a little bit more research as far as when you’re doing that’s this technique utilizing it in a non-

destructive manner how did these two settings right here as well as also these functions over here impact that so there’ll be a future better a video as I figure out how how that actually changes things cuz I’m sure it’s surely it’s time to change something but that’s basically what you’re doing so you’re gonna drag over a blemish and then just boom hey I’m telling Photoshop I’d rather this skin from where I’m dragging right here be placed in in that position right there so that’s that’s literally it so we’re gonna spend the next spin about five minutes so far so

we’re gonna spend another four or five minutes here and we’re just gonna just see how far we can get as with all healing related tools they become blurry after a certain point each of them has different points that they actually get blurry and you start to lose detail as you can see right here it’s it’s kind of just blurry I will do a future video on how to fix that specific issue but for the time being right now we’re not going to focus on on how to actually fix that just know that if you go over and you’re doing a very large sample with all of these healing tools they’re

gonna get blurry but unless you’re zooming into the same magnification level that I’m zooming into right now you’re never gonna notice that it’s actually blurry just being honest if this is a massive print in a billboard type situation then maybe you will notice it people are very close to the photo but on Instagram you’ll never actually you’ll never see see this this loss of detail right here you don’t really have to worry about it but there is a way to fix that and recover some of that detail because it does get really really blurry that’s just kind of how it this dual functions

in a lot of cases there are fix it however but yeah you guys just can kind of see me just kind of scrolling around just doing some jazz here they try to do this as fast as possible so I don’t bore you to tears with how tedious this specific technique can be but then I also will show you how far we are we’re getting here I’m spending maybe another three or four yeah maybe just three more minutes I’m not gonna spend a lot of time and like I was saying before at after a certain point the computer is gonna just basically start to bog down we’re basically at that point

here because I am recording a video and it’s just it’s not very not very good when it comes to this situation this is a very difficult task for the computer because of how how much of an area this tool actually samples from especially something like this they’re gonna be about your business like that as far as best times to really use the patch tool because I’m just showing you guys a really in theory how it’s how it’s works and how did how to use it but as far as best practices the patch tool is definitely best when you’re doing longer more wrinkles and longer

Brown and blemishes as opposed to these smaller ones it’s just it’s it does okay with the smaller ones not saying that it’s bad or anything like that it’s it’s totally usable but it’s just a really slow way to do this process there’s just much faster techniques but when it comes to getting rid of full wrinkles though the patch tool works absolutely fantastically you can just drag and do a selection over the entire wrinkle and then just go down granted that’s probably not gonna be perfect you may need to kind of recover some of that detail right here because they did get a

little bit blurry recover some of that detail and then put some of the texture back over there but in literally five or six seconds here you’re able to get rid of this entire wrinkle and like literally no it doesn’t take any effort at all yeah I mean the patch tool is in those situations is the best it’s good for getting rid of stray hairs it’s good for fixing I guess weird textures and stuff like that and clothes and bracket background elements anything that’s really just a longer kind of obstruction a blemish that you want to fix is when the back the patch tool is gonna be best to be

used otherwise you’re better off using the clone and healing brush and paging two little things that nature they just they just do this job lot faster a lot more efficiently and they they have better sampling algorithms in my experience will do like another minute here I’m just gonna go really quick it’s gonna be super blurry but that’s fine I’m not really focused on making sure the samples are absolutely perfect I just want to show you guys what’s actually possible in just a few minutes with this tool it doesn’t really matter if some of the skin is gonna be blurry again

that’s not the purpose of this video I’m not showing you how to fix everything off we’re literally just trying to get through oh you spend like 30 more seconds just to see how much more we can get rid of here and call it poly good getting a lot further than I did when I originally but this isn’t on being this nearly as particular about it that was before which is great it’s hopeful our lives easier okay let’s zoom out and see where we go okay zoom out right here granite I did miss a couple of areas okay so we’ll go right about here let’s go back to the layers panel and let’s

see how far we got in just about five and a half minutes yeah I mean just like that granted like I was saying before a lot of the areas that I did use the patch tool over are a little bit blurry there like smudgy looking if you zoom in close right around here especially yeah you can just see that it’s just really blurry right around here the goal of today’s video is not to show you guys how to fix that I’m literally just showing you what the patch tool is actually capable of doing it there is a way to fix that however will probably do a future video on how to fix that but this is

what we were able to do with just patch tool now this is not my this is not my preferred way of doing this but again goal just to show you guys what is available so you have another tool in your quiver in your arsenal of what is actually possible but I hope this kind of help you guys kind of demystify what what the patch tool is able to do some of the best tips it’s not grated edges none of the tools that I’m showing you guys are good at edges besides possibly the comb brush 

Photo of author

Devaun Lennox

I'm a fashion, beauty, and commercial photographer turned impromptu photojournalist. Based in Las Vegas, my images are graphic, bold, and full-on contrast.