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Chapter 6. Fixing and Retouching Photos > Blending Image Elements with the Smud...

Blending Image Elements with the Smudge Tool

The Smudge tool is one of those specialty tools that’s a little hard to classify. Traditionally, it’s grouped with the Blur and Sharpen tools in Photoshop’s toolbox and is often used for retouching tasks. The Smudge tool’s closest cousin may be the Blur tool, as it can also be used to soften edges and transitions in an image. Its real strength though, lies in its ability to push and pull image pixels around in your picture. Drag the tool through an area, and its pixels smear and blend with the adjacent pixels as if you were pulling a brush through freshly applied paint. Use the Smudge tool in backgrounds and other areas where you may need to smooth flaws or imperfections and retaining detail isn’t critical. With a little practice, you can also create some convincing painterly effects by varying the length and direction of the brushstrokes. As with the Blur and Sharpen tools, the Smudge tool’s effects can be adjusted with controls on the options bar.

To use the Smudge tool:

Select the Smudge tool from the toolbox, or press F (Figure 6.44).

Figure 6.44. Photoshop Elements’ Smudge tool.

On the options bar, select a brush size using the Brush Size slider.

Just as with the Blur and Sharpen tools, you can select a blend mode and enter a Strength percentage. The higher the percentage, the more the affected area is smudged.

Move the brush pointer to the area of your image that you want to smudge; then hold down the mouse button and drag through the area (Figure 6.45).

Figure 6.45. Images with a lot of dust specks and other small imperfections (like this man’s suit, left) are good candidates for retouching with the Smudge tool. Work on one small area at a time to blend away and soften the dust and scratches (right).

As you drag, the area is softened and blended.



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