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How To Retouch Skin in Photoshop Using The Healing Brush Tool

Last Updated on November 1, 2020 by Devaun Lennox

Today we are gonna talk about a basic tool that that you can use in Photoshop to simplify and make it just that much easier for you guys to be able to smooth skin with one simple tool not a lot of settings super super quick a the image that’s attached right here was a photo shoot that I did about two weeks ago with creatives with a creative team that I work with out here in Las Vegas and this is our model right here mica so today we’re gonna just show just using the the Healing Brush tool in Photoshop how you can go from this to this in just roughly about five minutes

so here’s I’m gonna zoom in a little bit so you guys can see what I’m talking about so my mouse cursor is gonna kind of highlight some of the areas that we’re gonna fix all these blemishes and spots and discolorations and skin and some freckles and just all this stuff in just in about five minutes you can go from that to just this so we just we smoothed out a lot of that I didn’t go through and spend quite as much time as I normally would if I was only using this tool to just fix absolutely everything but in

about five minutes is how far we can get so let’s hop over in Photoshop so here we are in Photoshop Photoshop CC 2017 The Healing Brush tool which is the tool that we’re gonna use today is in pretty much every single version of Photoshop if you have even remotely late version of like cs5 cs4 and higher this tool will be in there granted how to get to this tool may be a little bit different based on the Photoshop version that you have but the tool that we’re gonna be using today is the Healing Brush tool just

like the video that I posted previously on our channel channel regarding how to actually use the Spot Healing Brush tool which basically just does everything in kind of one swing today we are going to be using the Wacom tablet as as before so I am using a Wacom or Wacom tablet I do have some shortcut keys that are on the tablet ever customized right now one of which is going to be the the undo button the other of which is actually gonna function as the Alt key the alt + or option key you’re using Mac I am using

Mac so I use the option key so the option Keys gonna allow us to select the area that we want to sample from and then we’re gonna just paint over that with the area that we’re trying to get rid of so those keys are already set up on the Wacom tablet I will be doing a video on how to set that up but for the time being just note setup and let’s hop into Photoshop let’s not dance around here okay so what we’re gonna do just like before we are going to let me undo that we are going to make a new layer so layer on

normal 100% about opacity and fill 100% just a standard layer so we’re gonna go over here into our our brush tools our spot patch and content-aware and we’re gonna select the Healing Brush tool oh that was I should spot you so Healing Brush tool it’s fine Healing Brush tool up here’s for our settings we’re gonna leave it on normal as opposed to replace if you put it into the replace function it kind of functions the exact same way or similar not exactly the same ways the clone brush so we’re gonna leave it on

normal so that it can it can do some more blending and it’s not gonna like literally just place and and like stamp the exact exact area that we’re sampling from if you leave in on normal long story short it’s gonna it’s gonna blend a little better so just leave it on normal you’re welcome to put our replace if you want it to actually be more like the clone stamp which we’ll talk about in a future video but long story short we’re just gonna leave it on normal the source is gonna be sampled and supposed to

pattern and then we’re gonna select right here it’s it’s targeting algorithm and make sure that it’s it’s sampling from the current layer and below so boom which allows us to basically sample on this new layer right here and actually it pulls from this layer right here and then we can just put place it on the new layer so we can work on non-destructively so let’s let’s zoom in and we’re going to start to get started here and it’s 10:35 p.m. right now we’re gonna literally just spend five minutes it’s just five

minutes and just go super hand man so what you have to do when it comes to utilizing the Healing Brush tool you you have to select a place a skin texture tone and color the extra samples from all of those things but you have to select an area of the photo that you want it to pull the sample from my computer is gonna get a little bit laggy doing this functionality so just bear with me but that’s what you do with the alt + or option key that key is already shortcut on my Wacom tablet that’s what I’m pressing right now

when it’s changing the cursor on the on the actual display that you guys can see it’s changing it from the actual brush where you can adjust the size and it shows you the opacity of a round circle of where it’s actually going to wash over changes that to an actual a sample sample selection indicator wherever you tap from here is where it’s actually going to sample and then when you use the brush it actually samples from there and it pulls texture tone and color information from exactly where your sample based on

how big the brush actually is and then it just replaces that over and then it’s it uses a predefined algorithm to determine the feathering and it tries it’s best based on Photoshop and it’s a it’s mathematics or whatever to match the actual sample to the best of the visibility to where you’re actually brushing that’s basically what this tool is doing and and that’s what you really have to do so in general best practices it’s 10:37 I haven’t really started yet I’m just kind of giving you guys some some overview and

stuff like that so you understand what this tool is doing let’s get started right now let’s actually put five minutes and I’ll just keep on talking over this stuff is you have a basic idea what you guys are gonna see me doing yourself as part as far as trip tricks though on best uses and best practices when it comes to the Healing Brush tool as opposed to the Spot Healing Brush tool typically you want the you want the brush size to be slightly bigger than the blemish you’re removing and then what you’re gonna do

is use the alt or option key to select slightly outside of the blemish in an area of skin that you prefer to actually be there to basically rush over sample over and it’ll it’ll it’ll do its best to replace the texture tone and color from where you action sample so basic you’re telling Photoshop hey this is where I’m sampling could you please put this skin or texture or whatever it may be if it’s a garment or you’re actually working on someone’s skin and you’re working on blemish removal and skin smoothing

you’re just telling Photoshop hey like I’m sampling over here can you like like do some math and like put this like in this area so it looks good – that’s basically what you’re telling Photoshop wherever you sample is where Photoshop is going to pull it’s it’s it’s information from as far as texture tone and color and then it’s gonna just basically rub over wherever you’re actually brushing and that’s literally all I’m doing my computer is gonna be very very laggy because I am recording a video while I’m talking and

doing some Photoshop intensive work yes so it’s gonna be a little laggy it’s gonna just take a little bit of time for us to kind of catch up and understand but that’s literally what I’m doing here not doing anything revolutionary I’m just sampling slightly outside of where I wanted to sample from or sorry so I’m sampling right out of where I want the blemish to be removed or that has an area of better skin sometimes it’s not always right outside the blemish but I’m sampling in an area of good skin and I’m just

basically just brushing over the area that has bad skin now you do get kind of funky results from time to time with this with this tool so this is part of the reason why I personally don’t use it that well it’s just really time consuming if you’re really picky about it you can get it you can get really industry-leading and professional photo retouching and skin smoothing result and quite honestly this is how some of the high-end Beauty retouchers and commercial retouchers that that work for big clients they actually

retouch on the zoom in a lot further than I’m zooming in right now but ultimately this is kind of how they end up doing it there it’s it’s I usually mixture this in the comb brush sometimes it is just this tool sometimes it’s specifically just the comb brush they everyone has the difference on their opinion with that but nonetheless that’s this is basically the basic premise of how you actually use this tool and it’s it’s now been three minutes we’re a little bit going a little bit slower there’s quite a lot of

things to remove here as far as blemishes and uneven tones and she does have freckles when I’m which I’m just smoothing out the freckles so you guys can see the impact of how far we can get in about five minutes biggest tips when it comes to using this this tool outside of the brush size is making sure that when you run up edges that you either zoom in or you’re gonna have to use another tool because this tool is infamously bad when it comes to edges I mean it’s just really not that great the comb brush would be

a better alternative the patch tool would be a better alternative when it comes to edges there’s a couple other techniques that you can do as well as far as selecting and yeah I mean you could just use little selection tools and you can get a little bit closer there as well but this tool is not really the greatest when it comes to it when it comes to the edges as are most of the chosen and this healing brush palette over here so 41 we got about two more minutes so just keep that in mind if you’re if you’re getting

up to edges you may want to you’re welcome to experiment and see if you can finagle a way to have it work for the specific edge that you’re trying to to edit on but overall it’s usually not very good at edges so you’re gonna have to use alternate alternate techniques to tackle a blemish on an edge it’s just kind of the truth there’s just there’s better techniques to pick that stuff taken care okay 40 – we’re getting close we’ll do one more minute here I don’t want I don’t want to bore you guys with how tedious

this this particular tool is and just yeah you just got to get in there man and then all I’m doing is just just pressing them all and then brushing over put some brushing over and not really in a position where I need to adjust the brush sides that much just because most of these blemishes are roughly the same size so I don’t need to really worry too much one thing to note though if you go over areas multiple multiple times it’s gonna start to get kind of blotching it’s also going to start to leave a lot of

texture I will do a future video on how to actually fix that but if you go over in area more than let’s say two or three times it’s going to to lose a lot of texture in detail and it’s gonna get really really blurry there are definitely techniques to fix that but for the time being just know that’s gonna happen so don’t go over don’t go over an area more than let’s say twice maybe three times if you’re like really trying to fit something specific okay so it’s already forty three and let’s kind of zoom out and see

where we got here centralize that and we’ll just go on and off okay so let me turn it all the way off and turn it all the way back on and boom five minutes there you go guys five minutes now obviously I wanted to get the whole face done but in five minutes with this tool it just takes too long and I’m recording a video so it’s it’s honestly just go just for you guys that we don’t need to we don’t need to go in in the weeds here just have me do the whole face I mean honestly it’s the same exact technique one of

the things I will kind of definitely highlight for you guys though you really only need to zoom in very very close to at least the level that I was at right there I don’t know exactly what the percentage of zoom was I’m not in the zoom tool to know what that is but you do need to zoom in pretty close to blemishes you don’t need to necessarily go to one-to-one or like maximum a hundred to one hundred percent to zoom or whatever it is but you do need to get as close to the blemish as possible so that when you’re

selecting the area that you want it to fix that it’s it’s clear and it’s a good it’s a good sample selection as you further and further out you may not be able to see some that information and then also you’re gonna make your brush size a lot bigger which is also going to get other blemishes so just keep that in mind you definitely zoom in a little bit closer and get a little bit tighter upon the blemishes and get a little bit higher up on the skin so that you can get a best sample selection now the biggest thing

on that front as well is when it comes to using this technique just to just the thick skin in general you really need to pay the most amount of attention and zoom the most amount in when it comes to the face because the texture as you go through different areas of the face it’s actually very different some people have very fine texture here and they gets very loose and fine right here and it’s loose right here everyone has very different texture on their skin and the face is where the most amount of texture and

the variety of texture exist as you get further and further away from the skin so you start getting down to the neck and the chest and the legs and arms as you get to those areas you don’t need to be as picky and you don’t have to zoom in as much you can you use a much bigger brush setting like when I’m when I’m doing most of the blemishes I’d be at a let’s say 20 pixel yeah roughly about a 20 somewhere between ten ten to ten to thirty 10 to 40 pixel wide brush by the way these the brush settings and literally

default brush you’re welcome to change the hardness if you want it to blend better or you want the their actual surrounding outer edges will brush to be softer that’s gonna be very based on hardness I don’t normally change that personally again I don’t really use this tool that much I’m just kind of showing you guys but that’s that’s that that would be how you would make the brush softer then making the sample selection more smooth that’s what that would do but back on the brush size I was talking about so with

with that when I’m working on the face I’m only doing usually five somewhere between 5 to 30 pixels maybe 40 pixels when I get out to the rest of the outer body I mean it could be 50 to 100 pixels it’s a way big it’s a much larger brush like it as we get down here to the arms there’s just not as much texture the variety of texture is just not as much it’s a lot more consistent in one terms of texture or one type of grain and type of texture so you don’t worry about as much but you do have to be a little bit more

cognizant of what you’re doing on face but that right there’s really I’d use the the healing brush to it that’s really all it is you don’t really need to do much else it’s a pretty easy tool to use the only other thing you have really to play with is the hardness and then really get a feel for how to sample and then brush over it will give you some funky results from time to time but just undo it and just sample somewhere else and just brush it over zoom out a little bit and see if the results make sense and

something that blends in relatively nicely with with that you’re fixing but that right there my friends is is how you do the the this just the heel just really just this just basic tool right here you know in this palette just brush you know nothing special nothing special about it there’s are some other tools in here that we’ll cover in the future video but that’s how you guys do it man so I hope that was beneficial I hope that helps you guys out helps give you some clarity and a little bit more insight on how

to use this tool to best tackle it to get the results if you guys want when it comes to beautifying the space you know I’m saying as with all videos my friends you know definitely absolutely hit that sub button down below man that sub button that’s super fat sub but man if that subscribe button man what are you waiting for to subscribe hit that button man come on brother that button man and then while you’re down there you know just kind of mouse over a little bit on this side oh uh sorry this side right here this

side right here and then just hit the like button – man come on come on man hey but you know it’s all good man hey just leave us comment if you guys have any specific techniques or specific questions that you have we respond in real world we looked at every single comment and email that we do get if you have any recommendations you have any feedback let us know you know shoot us a comment shoot us an email message us in whatever platform that you have and access to and available and we’ll get back to you man we
are here absolutely for you guys so until next time my friends peace out

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.