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Chapter 4. Retouching Techniques > Problem : Solution Eliminate skin flaws

Problem : Solution Eliminate skin flaws

Problem: Skin flaws mar an otherwise good image.

Solution: Use the Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, and Patch tools to touch up the image.

Most people want to look as good as possible when their pictures are taken, and even supermodels get the occasional blemish. Luckily, Photoshop can tackle skin conditions better than any cream, powder, or cleanser currently on the market.


Your first line ofdefense against blemishes is the Healing Brush tool Similar to the Clone Stamp tool, the Healing Brush tool clones the texture from a selected area, but samples the color from the area where you apply the brush. Specks of color in the affected area (like pimples) are replaced with more prevalent nearby hues. This is especially valuable when working with flesh tones, where color matching can be dicey. In many cases, the Healing Brush tool can make fast changes that make pimples vanish like magic, but be sure to look closely at the result. Sometimes the path of the brush is visible under close examination, especially if you've dragged it rather than stamped it on small areas.

The Patch tool works in much the same way as the Healing Brush tool, but it's used to copy large areas all at once. This is often useful when removing laugh lines around the eyes and mouth.

For more precise control over color selection when cloning pixels, use the Clone Stamp tool . While it doesn't have the “ooh-aah” effect of the other retouching tools, it can give you a bit more control.

Our Problem image shows a photo that needs a little work. The model has several minor blemishes on his cheek and a mark near the bridge of his nose, suggesting he wears glasses when not in Renaissance costumes.

We used a combination of the Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, and Patch tools to touch up this image. To use the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush tool:

1.
Sample a portion of the image that has the desired texture. If you're lucky, there will be a large area that isn't close to the spot you're editing, but more often than not you'll only find similar pixels close by.

2.
Select the tool you think will be best for the job, hold down the [Alt] key ([option] key on the Mac), and click on the desired source area. Photoshop lets you know you're defining this point by changing the pointer to crosshairs.

You can set the Clone Stamp and Healing Brush tools to clone pixels the same distance between the defined point and the first area you apply the brush by selecting the Aligned check box. Or you can set them to reset to the starting point every time you click by deselecting the Aligned check box. (You can change the settings for each option on the tool options bar.) The Clone Stamp tool is aligned by default, while the Healing Brush tool is non-aligned. Whichever alignment setting you choose, it's best to “stamp” with these tools rather than drag them. This preserves the grain of the image and makes your alterations less obvious. For larger areas:

1.
Use the Patch tool to “lasso” the element you want to remove. Photoshop highlights the selected area.

2.
Drag the selection to a smooth area of skin. When you release the mouse button, the selection snaps back to its original location, applying the texture of the selected area. Our Solution image shows the final version of the image, with blemishes and wrinkles removed.

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